Dealing with a Diverse Knowledge Base and Experience: What to Do?




Dear Dr. Dialogue:

I often find myself working with groups of folks who have a wide range of exposure or experience with the topic/content of what I am working with. What suggestions do you have to help deal with the discrepancy of ‘where folks are at?”



Supporting people with change in order for learning to occur is important. People adopt innovations at different rates, and everyone brings a different background and attitude with them when they are introduced to a new or modified concept, You are dealing with a common issue that can be addressed through a facilitator’s knowledge of, and work with, the CBAM Model – a Concerns-Based Adoption Model.

This model guides a facilitator of professional learning through seven Stages of Concern that offer insight into and address an individual’s common concerns regarding change. The stages are: Awareness, Informational, Personal Management, Consequence, Collaboration and Refocusing. A reference for this is The Learning Principal. October 2008. NSDC, sourced from Taking Charge of Change, by Shirley Hord, William Rutherford, Lesle Huling-Austin and Gene Hall, ASCD. 1987.

I also suggest that you think about your own theory of change, so that you are clear about your own values in regard to how people accept and adapt to change. It is also helpful to think about cognitive science/brain research and the fact that emotion trumps cognition. In other words, if there is an emotional reaction to what is being introduced or taught, the emotional reaction will over-ride thinking.

Working with the C-BAM model can be very helpful by providing insights into an individual’s concerns, with suggestions of how these concerns might be addressed.


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