Training – including mentoring – is an integral part of development support, but it can be difficult to demonstrate tangible effective results. A commonly practiced but unsuccessful approach is nicknamed parachute instruction, where a trainer “parachutes” (arrives) in-country, conducts a whirlwind training schedule over a few days, and departs, thinking that the training has been successful – but finding on subsequent visits that absolutely nothing has been retained by the trainees. This outcome can be avoided, but only with well-designed needs assessments; culturally aware and tolerant instructors supported by good translators when necessary; good training materials structured appropriately for the audience; collectable and supportable success evaluation measures; and with constant awareness and feedback regarding whether and how the material is being assimilated by the trainees. In hands-on training (in a laboratory or in the field) success may require removing students from a culturally prejudiced setting to one where the “correct” approach is always practiced, such as in another country or region, and thereby reinforcing trainees’ conformity to required protocols. Instructors also may have to modify their view of what constitutes “correct” (best practices) to accommodate local conditions regarding motivations and behavior in addition to technological levels. Still, there are procedures associated with laboratory safety and security, or sample collection protocols where little compromise can be tolerated and the trainer must persevere if international standards are to be achieved.
The Intersect Insight team is cognizant of these training challenges and strives to maximize the sustainable effectiveness of our training implementations whether measured in performance or learning.