How to involve your audience at a YDI
Road Safety can sometimes sound a bit dry to students. It is important to acknowledge that they already have knowledge and experience and survey what they already know, before you start. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to employ a variety of learning styles.
Quick tips to improve engagement:
- Variety – include more than one element.
- Interactivity – get the audience involved by talking or through exercises or even through playing a game.
- Discussion – encourage discussion, find out what the young people think and encourage debate within the group. Ask about their experiences, find out who drives, who wants to drive, who does not want to drive and why.
- Be flexible – even the best-planned presentation can fall flat for reasons beyond your control. If you feel the groups interest slipping be flexible and change your approach or move forward to a different section for your presentation which you think will engage.
Incorporate the CfE
Curriculum for Excellence embraces an approach to learning that encourages participation, questioning and collaboration; employing creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. There is a place for passive learning, but only as a part of the learners’ overall experience.
It’s important to tailor the learning activity to suit the group that you are speaking to. With a large mixed ability group in a lecture theatre, you need to consider how best to engage them. Making a pitch for the middle ground can engage some of the group but perhaps not all.
Having a smaller group gives more opportunity to invite the young people to get involved in their own learning, have a chance to ask questions and discuss commonly held misconceptions about road safety.
Cooperative and collaborative learning
We no longer consider that a ‘good’ learning environment is necessarily a quiet one; we understand that learning is frequently most effective when learners have the opportunity to think and talk together, to discuss ideas, question, analyse and solve problems, without the constant mediation of the supervising adult.
Although these approaches vary to some extent, essentially they all promote the idea that young people’s learning is best served when they have opportunities to learn with and from each other, and are shown how to do so effectively.
The rationale behind peer education is that peers can be a trusted and credible source of information. They share similar experiences and social norms and are therefore better placed to provide relevant, meaningful, explicit and honest information.
Peer education is an approach which empowers young people to work with other young people, and which draws on the positive strength of the peer group.
By means of appropriate training and support, the young people become active players in the educational process rather than passive recipients of a set message. Central to this work is the collaboration between young people and adults.