Babystepping into Interactive Training

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Norfolk Naval Shipyard [NNSY] was named one of this year’s Pike’s Peak Award recipients because of its successful implementation of participant-centered training methods which has realized an increase in retention and skill-transfer based on Kirkpatrick level three evaluations.

NNSY develops corporate training for about 12 naval shipyard facilities. Their relationship with participant-centered training began after attending an annual The Bob Pike Group conference and agreeing with the concepts. “We took actions to implement the techniques into the training we develop and distribute,” said Cindy Smith who works with the Corporate Radiological Training Program in Norfolk, Va.

“[Our] first exposure was at a local ASTD [American Society for Training and Development] one-day conference in 2006 with Bob Pike. This was the first ‘a-ha’ moment; however, we were 'too busy' to stop and try to implement the techniques. There was the feeling that we had to 'redo' all of our products to implement,” Smith said. “After attending our first Pike Conference in 2007, we decided baby steps were better than no steps, so we chose three topics in each product that were areas of weakness and revised how those were taught to be more participant-centered.”

NNSY brought in Bob Pike Group senior consultant Rich Meiss to help get all team members on board philosophically with participant-centered training as well as practically by doing additional facilitation and workshops on incorporating participant-friendly training methodologies. “Cindy Smith has indeed been the champion for this project at the Naval Shipyards, and along with her colleague Sonya Gardner deserves much credit for making this shift to a better way of training,” Meiss said.

Outside of the Corporate Radiological Training Program group, Gardner was the first to modify the entire three-week course which was very helpful by getting several managers 'onboard' to further support PCT.

Since re-designing with a participant-centered methodology, a three-week engineering course was modified. “We showed a 13 percent increase in exam scores consistently since the modification and no failures,” Smith said. The training also has received “glowing reviews” from students, one of whom said, "This is the best class I've ever attended in 30-plus years of civil service." One manager said, "This was the first time my employees were upset that training ended." Smith’s group also modified a continuing training course for production radiological supervisors that was very well received.

The Pike’s Peak Award is a formal recognition of learning leaders and/or their organization for their implementation of Participant-Centered training that positively impacts performance. Award winners are encouraged to share what they have implemented and the successes or progress made. Candidates are nominated by colleagues, other learning professionals and Bob Pike Group Trainer Consultants.

If you want to nominate yourself or someone else for the Pike’s Peak Award or would like to just share how you’ve seen participant-centered training work, either email us at or fill out the form found here where qualification guidelines can also be found.

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