Four Questions to Increase Ownership in Course Design

by Lee Kang Yam

What?Whenever I start a workshop, I would ask participants 4 questions. I called them questions of ownership and commitment. The questions are:

  1. How participative do you plan to be?
  2. How valuable an experience you plan this workshop to be?
  3. How much risk do you plan to take?
  4. How much do you care about the learning of others in the group?

I would ask the participants to rate on a scale of 1-7 on these questions, for example a rating of 1 on question 1 would indicate that the participant is here to relax and not to be depended on for contributions in the workshop. A rating of 1 is perfectly alright. The point is for participants to be authentic and to take ownership for their decisions and behavior.

I once had a participant gave a 1 rating because he was sent at the last minute to attend a workshop which he thought had no use for him. I appreciated his authenticity and as the workshop progressed he participated and contributed more than his 1 rating. Asking these questions allowed me to explore issues of commitment and ownership. The point is for participants to be authentic and take ownership for their decisions and behavior.

I would also ask participants their thoughts about these questions. All the questions focus on actions, more specifically they focus on intentions. These questions confronts participants with a choice, they can either choose to commit themselves to the experience or choose to withdraw from it. It passes the ownership for their experience back to the participants. The facilitator is not the entertainer and the learning of the participants does not depend on how well the facilitator “entertained” them.

So next time you begin your workshop or course, try posing these questions and see the responses you get. You will be surprised how these questions can make people confront their sense of responsibility and ownership in the workshop.

Written by Lee Kang Yam from The Flame Centre.

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