Book By: Van Kavelaar, Eileen K.
Review By: Amanda A. Turner
Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities
Lamar University

Conducting Training Workshops is an excellent guide for new workshop facilitators. As the book highlights various components of a successful training workshop, one message remains clear throughout: the key to a successful workshop is a clear understanding of the audience of learners. The facilitator who is aware of an audience’s strengths, weaknesses, and starting point is better prepared to respond to the learning styles of the group and thus provide the type of training needed.

Van Kavelaar’s book covers a series of topics from identifying learning objectives to evaluating the effectiveness of the training workshop. Each chapter begins with a lesson from Aesop’s Fables applicable to the author’s message. Of particular interest is the chapter dealing with instructional strategies and methods (Chapter 3) that suggests we organize a workshop according to audience knowledge—introductory, intermediate, or advanced. For example, an introductory workshop designed for those with little knowledge of advising methods may use a lecture or guided practice format. However, for a group of more experienced advisors, it may be more appropriate to use a case study or in-basket approach to learning. Included with the instructional methods are descriptions of teaching strategies that can be used to complement the chosen format— subgrouping, buzz sessions, panel discussions, and brainstorming.

The author provides information regarding instructional method limitations as well as solid ideas for appropriate use of training aids—flipcharts, handouts, videos, etc. A notable strength of Conducting Training Workshops is the inclusion of worksheets at the end of each chapter. These worksheets (lesson plans) offer ideas for workshop organization and provide depth to the various ideas presented in the chapter.

This book will not only help the new training facilitator but will also benefit the experienced workshop director who seeks alternative and innovative training methods. However, the book is somewhat outdated as it fails to discuss the more modern uses of computerized technology. Nevertheless, the author’s message that the effectiveness of training aids rests in quality, not quantity, is especially important any advisor who tends to have an excessive number of handouts or read from PowerPoint slides.

Anyone charged with training students in the use of student-friendly advising tools or a group of advisors on a newly implemented advising technique will find this book useful.


Conducting training workshops: A crash course for beginners. (1998). Book by Van Kavelaar, Eileen K. Review by Amanda A. Turner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. 174 pp. Price $30.00. ISBN 0-7879-1118-6.

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