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No. 74 – Teaching Radiation Safety for Understanding – 4

May 30, 2012

Goals for Training

What do you wish to accomplish with training? Is training just to meet requirements of your radioactive materials license? What do your trainees need to know? What do you want from your trainees in terms of knowledge, attitudes, decisions, or behavior? If your training is successful, how will you know? What outcomes do you expect?

These are a few questions to consider as you begin developing your training program. Most often instructors think of training as a matter of conveying knowledge. Trainees demonstrate their grasp of the knowledge by applying what they have learned to solve problems (homework) or by their recall of facts for an examination. While this approach may have been the model for high school or college, or preparing for the certified health physics examination, this is not necessarily the best approach for training adult workers.

Knowledge goals are usually the primary focus for training. Transferring knowledge is usually the basis for presentation materials, manuals, handouts, slides, and demonstrations of equipment. Presenting knowledge usually deals with technical issues and avoids emotion. The transfer of knowledge is a goal that is often declared or shared with students as the reason for the training. However, training in radiation safety is more than a matter of providing knowledge. We also want our workers to understand and practice the principles of time, distance, and shielding, for keeping exposures as low as reasonably achievable.

Attitude goals are usually not declared and are much more difficult to achieve. Such goals involve influencing the state of mind of the trainees. Students will often interpret the content of training in terms of individual values, beliefs, and images. For example, they might believe that all radiation is harmful and that the instructor is biased or paid to say otherwise. Thus, an attitude goal could be to win the trust and acceptance of the trainees by showing that you are both caring and knowledgeable.

Decision goals have to do with leading the trainees to certain decisions or conclusions that you want. For example, you might want your trainees to consciously decide to accept the risks of working with radiation at your facility and to accept the requirements of your radiation safety program.

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