Training is what Scouting has relied on for over 100 years in order to maintain and develop quality Scouting all over the World. Scouting training is viewed as developing skills, knowledge and attitudes in Adult volunteers so that they can carry out the mission of Scouting through delivering the Youth Programme.


Training or developing competencies is typically focused on the learning of the individual. It is noteworthy that according to the 70/20/10 model only 10% of the learning happens in courses or other formal learning settings. Therefore, while having a functional training system in place, it is essential to realize that most of the learning happens on the job itself or through reflection. Additionally it has been shown time and time again in scientific research that learning efficiency highly correlates with motivation of the learner.


When designing training for adult volunteers, six principles on motivation (by Michael Knowles) should be taken into consideration:

  1. Need to know: adults and especially adult volunteers who are giving their most precious resource, their time, need to know the reason for learning something. This is achieved by linking the competence development either to the mission of Scouting or the Youth Programme, but also to the personal ambitions and motivation of an individual volunteer.
  2. Foundation: each adult volunteer in Scouting has built their unique experience through their lives from Scouting and in other learning environments. This experience provides the basis on which the competence development is built upon. Especially failures and mistakes should be identified and analyzed since they provide a tremendous opportunity for improvement and learning.
  3. Self-concept: Making the adult volunteers responsible for the decisions and involving them in the planning of their training increases their motivation.
  4. Readiness: adults have lives outside of Scouting too. Making the learning worthwhile not only from a Scouting perspective but for an immediate relevance to their work or personal lives, increases their interest and motivation.
  5. Orientation: Adult volunteers in Scouting are usually equipped with experience from Scouting and an ability to problem-solve so the learning should also orient more on problems rather than content.
  6. Motivation: It is essential to create internal (intrinsic) motivation for adults since they respond to motivation deriving from their person much better than to external motivators. External rewards are not likely to motivate people to learn something. In the worst case, external rewards (such as badges or insignia), can cause people to complete trainings without having learned anything.

Training systems

Training systems are developed in Scouting to ensure that a certain level of quality is met among the Adult volunteers. Courses in the training system gather like-minded adults together for a period of time to develop their competencies.

The contents of the training system may vary but typical subject areas are:

  • leadership
  • project management
  • scouting education and youth programme
  • unit management

For further reading on the training systems used in Scouting, you can refer to the World Scout Adult Resources handbook and WOSM Woodbadge Framework (see list of complementary readings at the end of this article).

Personal development plan

In a non-formal setting, the adult volunteers are equipped with certain skills, knowledge and competencies from previous life experience and these should be taken into consideration by focusing on creating a personal development plan for each adult. Through the personal development plan the adults can focus their efforts and time to reach their personal goals and to ensure that they build competencies that are relevant in achieving those goals.

How do you know if a training system is effective?

One of the most widely used framework for the evaluation of training systems is Kirkpatrick’s four-level training evaluation model (Kirkpatrick, 1994).

The four levels are:

  • Reaction: this level measures how your trainees (the people being trained), reacted to the training. Obviously, you want them to feel that the training was a valuable experience, and you want them to feel good about the instructor, the topic, the material, its presentation, and the venue. Typically reaction is measured with gathering of instant feedback.
  • Learning At this level, you measure what your trainees have learned. How much has their knowledge increased as a result of the training? When you planned the training session, you hopefully started with a list of specific learning objectives: these should be the starting point for your measurement. Keep in mind that you can measure learning in different ways depending on these objectives, and depending on whether you’re interested in changes to knowledge, skills, or attitude. It’s important to measure this, because knowing what your trainees are learning and what they aren’t will help you improve future training. Typically, learning is measured or evaluation with learner self-evaluations or evaluation discussions with coach or trainer.
  • Behavior At this level, you evaluate how far your trainees have changed their behavior, based on the training they received. Specifically, this looks at how trainees apply the information. It’s important to realize that behavior can only change if conditions are favorable. For instance, imagine you’ve skipped measurement at the first two Kirkpatrick levels and, when looking at your group’s behavior, you determine that no behavior change has taken place. Therefore, you assume that your trainees haven’t learned anything and that the training was ineffective. However, just because behavior hasn’t changed, it doesn’t mean that trainees haven’t learned anything. Perhaps other people won’t let them apply new knowledge. Or, maybe they’ve learned everything you taught, but they have no desire to apply the knowledge themselves.
  • Results: At this level, you analyze the final results of your training. This includes outcomes that you or your organization have determined to be good.. Of all the levels, measuring the final results of the training is likely to be the most costly and time consuming. The biggest challenges are identifying which outcomes, benefits, or final results are most closely linked to the training, and coming up with an effective way to measure these outcomes over the long term.

Complementary readings

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.