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See-Try-Do for On-the-Job Training Can Work for You

Jazmin Webster outlines a simple approach to OJT delivery called See-Try-Do.


Mon Apr 08 2024

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Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to learn how to perform a task. Many variables are at play. You may ask yourself questions like:

  • How quickly do I need to learn and apply this information?

  • What is my trainer going to be like?

  • Will the trainer or event meet my learning needs?

  • Will I get to practice?

  • Why is it important for me to know how to do this task?

  • Am I even going to enjoy what I’m doing?

As learning professionals who aim to deliver quality experiences, we’ll be in the seat of the learner at some point. It is important that we consider methods of delivering on-the-job training (OJT) that keep the learner’s experience in mind. David Merrill’s Principles of Instruction can help us maximize training effectiveness for our learners during OJT events by targeting five key areas, as shown in Figure 1. These areas link directly with the simple approach to OJT delivery called See-Try-Do.


Figure 1: Overview of D.S. Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

Jazmin Webster - Figure 1 - Overview of D.S. Merrill’s Principles of Instruction

Let’s start at the center: Real world relevance. What about this learning is important, and how does it fit into the bigger picture? As you prepare to deliver training, consider how the learner will be engaged in problem solving that matches concrete, realistic situations. Second is activation, which refers to helping the learner to SEE the connection with prior knowledge, while matching with the right level of relevance. Have you ever followed a recipe to make something or followed a set of instructions to put something together? Following a recipe or constructing something requires decision making. Consider using an example to activate prior knowledge, which can anchor the learner before bringing in new concepts.

Third, we have the demonstration, or the “show time.” This is not just about a verbal discussion, with some pictures and slides, but about being in, or as close as possible to, the point of performance. This is where observation happens, and the learners should have the opportunity to see what success looks like.

Fourth, the application stage is the trainer facilitated learning that gives the learner the opportunity to TRY the task in a safe way. Safe can be interpreted in many ways. In this instance, it means that the learner can feel comfortable with making a mistake, knowing that no harm will come to themselves or their environment.

And last, it’s time for integration of knowledge gained with the learner’s existing experience. The DO it and prove it stage is the verification that the learner can complete the task independently and can explain it reflecting performance understanding. Although organized sequentially, any of these stages can be revisited based on the learner’s pace, comfort, and confidence.


Organizing the learner’s OJT experience by syncing the See-Try-Do approach with D.S. Merrill’s Principles of Instruction can help keep the learner’s experience front of mind while also ensuring the desired training outcome can be met.

Interested in putting these principles into practice within your world of work? Join the session See-Try-Do Can Improve Training Effectiveness for You at the ATD International Conference & EXPO in New Orleans, Louisiana, on May 19–22, 2024.

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