October 2021
Issue Map
Four puzzle pieces put together
TD Magazine

Engagement Is in the Puzzle Pieces

Friday, October 1, 2021


When you initially design a training course, you may decide that lecture-style delivery will suffice. Then after a couple of runs, you receive learner feedback that the course lacks engagement opportunities. You can't change the course content, so how do you improve? What strategy can you use to adjust the course delivery to make the learning experience more engaging and meaningful?



Your next step depends greatly on the content. If it is possible to divvy up the curriculum into decisive, digestible chunks, then the jigsaw strategy could be a great solution. Not only will it foster engagement, but it provides an experiential learning experience for participants. What's more, you can apply the jigsaw approach in traditional and virtual learning environments. Here's how it works.

1. Divide the group. Say you're facilitating a class on generations in the workplace. Assign one group Gen X, assign Gen Z to the next group, and so on. Four topics usually work best. Prepare learners for the activity by providing the class with specific instructions and timing. For example, "Spend five minutes reading and researching on your topic and five minutes collaborating and discussing among your group. Then together decide the top five things the rest of us need to know about your topic."

2. Regroup and relay findings. Now that each subgroup has become knowledgeable on its piece of the puzzle, the larger group can reconvene, and the stage is now set for participants to learn from each other. Provide specific instructions on how to report findings to the larger group so that this teach-back opportunity is consistent for everyone.

3. Debrief as a group. Now that the groups have covered all the components and each has contributed to the learning process, learners should see the full picture. Prepare your own list of takeaways for each portion of content and compare your lists with each group's findings during the debriefing session. That gives you an opportunity to fill in any knowledge gaps and opens the door for added conversation to reinforce learning.



Get creative with group arrangements as needed. If you have three participants and four content areas to cover, assign each individual one area to research and report on, and then have them work on the fourth as a group. For larger classes, two different groups could tackle the same topic.

About the Author

Nikki O’Keeffe is an internal ATD Facilitator. She is dedicated training specialist who delivers a positive, memorable, and meaningful service that repeatedly meets or exceeds the expectations of the client. She has experience creating strategies and visions to ensure training requirements and deliveries are in line with quality, probability, and client need. 

Nikki has worked in varied industries, including education, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. In her role as the global senior training and development specialist at PAREXEL International, her focus was on managing and developing courses for new and existing staff on technical systems, process changes, new products, and soft skills.  Her educational background includes a BA in psychology from Butler University and a master’s degree in exercise science, health, and wellness from Northeastern Illinois University. Her specific areas of interest include virtual training, facilitation techniques, and mentoring new trainers. 

Nikki is skilled at providing face-to-face and online learning programs for global participants of varying experience levels. In addition to delivering training, she has performed training needs analyses to identify gaps and recommend training solutions, worked with SMEs as a consultant to develop courses and curriculums, and evaluated programs for effectiveness. 

As a certified ATD Master Trainer and certified ATD Master Instructional Designer she understands the value of solid training plans and strong facilitation. Nikki looks forward to sharing her experiences and expanding her knowledge base by learning from her participants in the upcoming ATD courses that she leads.

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