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How To Persuade People that Training Games Produce Effective Learning

If you are having difficulty convincing your managers and peers that experiential learning and games can result in effective learning, try the arguments from the article, "The Intelligent Choice", which appeared in the March 1998 issue of Thiagi GameLetter.

The Intelligent Choice

When trainers challenge me with "Why should I use games and experiential activities?", I list impressive research findings from cognitive sciences. These findings suggest that traditional training is severely limited -- and interactive, experiential techniques have great potential. Here are some specific details:

YOU ARE OF TWO MINDS. Professor Seymour Epstein at the University of Massachusetts has a ground-breaking theory of intelligence called Cognitive Experiential Self Theory (CEST), which suggests that we have an experiential mind and a rational mind. Our experiential mind learns directly, thinks quickly, pays attention to the outcome, and forgets slowly. Our rational mind learns indirectly, thinks deliberately, pays attention to the process, and forgets rapidly. Epstein's contention is that you need both your minds. Games and interactive strategies appeal directly to the experiential mind. When combined with debriefing discussions, they provide a powerfully balanced approach to whole-brain learning.

YOU HAVE THREE INTELLIGENCES. Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University, has demonstrated that someone can be highly creative and practical but have a low IQ. According to Sternberg's research, practical and creative intelligence are better predictors of job effectiveness than analytical intelligence which is measured by IQ tests. Interactive, experiential techniques can develop your practical and creative intelligence and enhance your success.

YOU HAVE SEVEN INTELLIGENCES. Professor Howard Gardner at the Harvard University developed the revolutionary concept of multiple intelligences. According to this theory, you have (at least) seven types of intelligence: linguistic intelligence (thinking in words and using language), logical-mathematical intelligence (quantifying and working with hypotheses), kinesthetic intelligence (acquiring physical skills), spatial intelligence (three-dimensional thinking), musical intelligence (working with pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone), interpersonal intelligence (interacting with others), and intrapersonal intelligence (understanding one's self). Traditional training caters almost exclusively to the first two intelligences. However, jobs demand other types of intelligence. Games and experiential activities tap into all of your intelligences and get you ready for the real world

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. In his national bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman draws upon brain and behavioral research to show that being smart goes beyond your IQ. You need emotional intelligence with self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, motivation, and empathy. The principles and procedures related to emotional intelligence are best learned by experiencing these factors and analyzing their impact. Traditional training fails miserably to sharpen our emotional intelligence. Experiential and interactive approaches are obvious strategies of choice.

THERE ARE NO MAGIC BULLETS. But decades of research studies endorse games, simulations, and other experiential activities that use of different types of intelligence.

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