Hi, and welcome again to our Top Tips blog... 


The best training models make learning personalised, meaningful, lasting and enjoyable for all participants. Creation of a successful learning environment requires planning, and effective planning requires a knowledge of the factors which encourage students to perform at their best. 

 A successful learning environment has the following five qualities:
(Brian Dwyer, International Journal of Educational Management 15/6 2001, 312-318)

  • Emotionally safe. The student should feel safe from such emotional challenges as bullying, flirtatious behaviour, or unwanted attention. There can be a marked difference here between different student's perception of the same situation. For example, one student's learning may be compromised by the fear that they will be asked to contribute; another may be eager for the chance to make this contribution.
  • Freedom from intimidation. Although a teacher can, and should, push students to achieve their best performance, this should always be in a positive way, without confrontation.
  • High in acceptable challenge. When a student knows their learning will be needed to fulfil a challenge, such as an assignment, test, or to deal with the everyday problems of their job, they will concentrate on learning; the learning is given a purpose to which they can relate in an immediate way. 
  • Active participation. This needs to be within the bounds of 'freedom from intimidation', and is most useful if participation is offered by the tutor and volunteered by the student, rather than demanded by the tutor and submitted to by the student.
  • A place where learners can experience a relaxed awareness. Ideally, we create an environment where the mind can become 'in flow', a pleasant condition of single minded concentration, such as we experience when absorbed by a good book.

It is the responsibility of any teacher, tutor (or, indeed, employer or manager) to be acutely aware of the potential sensitivity of students. Most people are, by nature, more scared of getting negative feedback than they are desirous of praise or success, and will therefore shrink from exposing themselves to the risk of criticism. Any risk of receiving a negative comment will reduce participation. In order to participate, students must listen, consider and offer contributions. If they are scared to contribute, why should they listen or consider?

This same principle holds true in meetings, discussions, training sessions, consultations and any interactions:
The more consistent and positive the feedback given, the more likely it is that the meeting/discussion/learning session will be successful. By the same token, people give their best in businesses and schools when they are not frightened to make mistakes!

As an example, in group meetings, there are often individuals who contribute minimally. They may be shy, or feel under-qualified relative to others present, or worry unduly about negative reactions to their ideas. They are, of course, likely to have useful contributions to make! A consistent, positive and encouraging manner will help them to feel emotionally safe and not intimidated. Other ideas may help: for example 'storyboarding' (which will be the subject of a future 'Top Tips') allows ideas to be contributed in writing, and anonymously, within a group meeting situation.

This helps to explain why computer based learning is becoming a key part of businesses' training armoury: it can be easily built to fulfil all five of Dwyer's qualities. It removes all intimidation, and allows participation in a relaxed and safe environment, where contributions will be accepted without risk of criticism. It will never fully replace practical training: real-life practice will always be necessary; but as a means of passing on knowledge in a non-threatening, easily accessed environment, it is a uniquely placed tool.

Happy Training!

Best wishes,


Hi and welcome to our top tips blog!

Today's topic:     LEADERSHIP

When a client is judging a practice, there are many factors that influence a client's desire to stay with the practice, or leave for pastures new. These include leadership, relationship, WOW factors, costs, quality of premises, and many others. 
Of these, leadership is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT item. Every staff member who interacts with the public should be aware that they, and therefore their practice, are judged on their leadership. Younger staff find this difficult at first, but it's a skill well worth practising!

What is leadership?
If you consult various dictionaries, two words keep recurring in the definition: Guidance and Direction. The perfect staff member will guide, direct, and educate, giving the client all the information they need to arrive at the correct decision, whether that be to purchase the best product, make an appointment, or join the practice. Just telling people what they should do is not leadership! People comply with advice when they believe, like, and trust the advisor. Great leaders engender these feelings, causing others to follow their advice with confidence that they are doing the right thing. 
Veterinary Training - Delighting the Client Summary
For example, asking...

"Would you like to make an appointment?"
leaves the client to make the decision. Whereas saying 
"It would be best if the vet sees Tibby to make sure we are doing the very best for her. Would 10a.m. tomorrow suit you?"
is guiding the client toward the correct action, and gives a reason for the advice.

That's it for this top tip, I hope you found it useful, if you'd like to do a quick online free trial course to experience Chunk Training, please click the button below.

Happy Training!

Best wishes,

Chunk Training at BSAVA Congress with Prof. Michael DayNow been back a few days after BSAVA Congress in Birmingham and have just about caught up with the stack of work I left behind, so thought I'd write a couple of notes about our time at BSAVA.

We had an excellent 4 days there, quite a few of us went along to man our stand; Liz, Bill, Charlotte & me - because we knew it would be busy and we wanted all hands on deck!

There was a real buzz at the event and we met loads of people both from veterinary practices and other businesses providing products and services to the industry - a huge number of which also had a go at our online training course demo we had going on a number of iPads on our stand and I'm pleased to say the feedback was excellent and we are now looking forward to supporting many more clients in training their practice teams. We also had a lot of interest in the possibility of us creating bespoke courses for other businesses which is something we have not promoted heavily but is a really fun thing for us to do, so we're happy to help with these also.

The biggest event for us at Congress was winning the BSAVA Small Shell Stand Award - we were really pleased (and pleasantly surprised by this!) so huge credit to Bill who designed and created our stand and also the team for how they interacted with the attendees (apparently we were nice and this was a big factor in winning the award!).
The photo here is of us receiving our prize with BSAVA President Prof. Michael Day.

So, a really good (but exhausting) event overall - I'd better crack on with my follow-ups... Looking forward to next year!