How to debrief a training session
When you google ‘How to debrief a training session’ you will find out that debriefing takes place in many different fields. Originally, debriefing sessions were used strictly for military purposes. Nowadays, in healthcare, education, and psychology research, it is also very common to gather together after a training session and discuss what really happened during that session.
What is debriefing?
After a certain activity – such as a simulation session, a mock interview, or a training exercise – follows a meeting (the debriefing) in which a number of events that occurred during the activity are explored, lessons are learned, and extra information is given. A debrief is a simple, yet powerful tool that enables participants to reflect on what happened during a session and why it happened.
Debriefing takes place soon after the activity, so that the events are still fresh in mind. This way, gaps in knowledge and performance can be identified. By reflecting on and recognizing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes used in the session, participants develop personal awareness and insight and become cognizant of personal learning goals to ensure future success.
What to expect of debriefing?
- It facilitates recall and insight
- It clarifies learning points
- It builds trust and self-confidence
- It improves (team) performance
- It promotes a positive change in behavior
How to debrief a training session
Good, thorough preparation of a debriefing session is required to establish a safe and engaging learning environment. During the debriefing, the group explores what happened (the What), why it happened (the So What) and what should happen in the future (the Now What).
You can start with some general, open questions, such as ‘how did it go?’, ‘what did it feel like?’, and ‘did you accomplish your objectives?’. Subsequently, the important events can be identified and the personal experiences of the participants can then be supported with video images. Video reviews give substance to the understanding phase, and help answer the questions of why things happened, were said, and were decided.
That’s where Viso comes into play: Viso is the user-friendly system used to create and play back audio- and video recordings. At its core, Viso is a video feedback tool, which allows users to add feedback with personalized markers. Trainers can set markers and/or add comments either while watching the training session in real time or while reviewing the recorded video after the fact. While playing back the recordings during debriefing, you can see at a glance which behaviors were annotated and when. Participants will see what actually happened, discuss the annotated moment and consequently gain deeper insight.
Summarize the main learning points
To conclude a debriefing session properly it is important to explicitly summarize lessons learned from the session and consider how the main learning points can be incorporated into future practices. Ask questions such as ‘What did you do well; what did you find difficult and why?’ to reinforce learning points. Finally, determine how the participants can improve on these points. Focus on one or two topics, as more than that can be overwhelming.
Using video recordings for debriefing sessions
Example in clinical psychology: With a multi-room, fully equipped training space for students, Delaware Valley University trains its students to become professional counselors. Viso allows the faculty and trainers to record all sessions, particularly the mock counseling sessions. Equipping the facility with Viso has allowed faculty and students to quickly debrief at the end of an interview to discuss the session.
Example in healthcare: The Maxima Medical Centre envisions life-long learning for all caregivers. In order to facilitate medical education, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology introduced simulation-based team training. Residents were divided into two groups; the first group participated in the scenario while the second group observed the first group from another room using the video debriefing system. Both trainees and trainers found the use of video recordings to be beneficial, since the system provides the opportunity to evaluate medical skills and non-medical skills in a more objective manner.
Example in education: Marie Bocquillon trains future teachers to use the tools she and her research team has developed to improve teacher practices. After the trainees give a lesson to their peer students, a video feedback session takes place. During debriefing, the supervisor and the trainees watch and discuss how the trainees behaved during the lesson.