Field practice blurs the lines between the artificial simulated context of a training environment and the full complexity of regular practice. It involves practitioners doing aspects of their core job as market systems facilitators, but with particular attention to a specific competency they are consciously trying to develop.
Using this mode
The ideal case for field practice is a task or activity that needs to be repeated several times with different actors and contexts. A senior practitioner should be available for support, feedback and mentorship. Field practice involves actively seeking to influence change in market actors. There is a key distinction between this and research assignment which involves simply collecting information.
This teaching and learning mode is very appropriate for teams that have been operating for a year or two and are seeking to sharpen their approach. Because there is an existing understanding of context it makes it more feasible to put new competencies into practice in the ‘real world’.
Guidance for trainers
- Use mock scenarios and role plays to ‘rehearse’ the field practice.
- Get the senior practitioner to overview the goals and desired behaviours before and after the field practice. Emphasise concrete feedback on specific behaviours that is actionable.
- Because field practice involves integrating multiple competencies this mode should come at the latter stages of a training programme.
Example competencies for field practice
Relationship building: competency C1
Run workshops where practitioners debate and compromise on issues where there is disagreement. Incorporate structured reflection that allows practitioners to internalise and feel comfortable with compromise.
Facilitation: competency C2
Ask practitioners to develop a plan or strategy for an upcoming meeting or workshop. Provide feedback and discuss potential pitfalls and contingency plans. Observe the practitioner facilitate. Provide specific evidence-based feedback and debrief the experience.
Influence: competency C4
Find low-stakes opportunities for practitioners to persuade new partners to work with the programme. Choose scenarios that have a clear behavioural 'ask' that mean practitioners can see the results of their influence skills. For example participating in an interview as part of a market analysis, or attending a promotional event as part of a crowding in strategy.
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