For a successful Investigations initiative, select qualified facilitators. Then train and support them.
The importance of the facilitator’s role can hardly be overstated. Investigations and Getting Ahead (the precursor to Investigations) graduates rave about their facilitators at graduation celebrations and in interviews. They appreciate the facilitators for “never telling us what to do,” for challenging the group, for being persistent in questioning, and “for keeping us on track.”
Here are some tips that can help ensure strong facilitation for your Investigations initiative.
Typically, an Investigations workshop is facilitated by a person who may or may not come from the middle class or wealth, and a co-facilitator who is a graduate of Investigations.
Investigations facilitators may be faculty members, student services professionals, individuals who work in other departments of the college, or even people from the community who are familiar with a college environment. Ideal facilitators are both born and made, combining the right knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will help them guide investigators through an intense process of change.
For example, facilitators should be familiar with College Achievement Alliance concepts as taught in the one-day workshop, Understanding and Engaging Under-Resourced College Students, and understand the approach to Investigations presented in the Facilitator Notes for Investigations into Economic Class in America.
They should be able to make connections with others, especially people from poverty; translate from formal language register to casual register; facilitate another person’s self-discovery; and be empathetic without being “taken in.”
And, they should like people from poverty. They should understand that the answers must come from the participants, not the facilitator; and they should be able to see the best in those who often can’t see it in themselves.
These and other qualities described in the Facilitator Notes for Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World provide a strong foundation for conducting a successful Investigations course.
Successful facilitators typically go through a three-step training process:
Step 1. Attend an Understanding and Engaging Under-Resourced College Students workshop or an alternative introductory workshop such as Bridges Out of Poverty or A Framework for Understanding Poverty.
Step 3. Read the Facilitator Notes for Investigations into Economic Class in America and, if possible, learn from an experienced facilitator in either Getting Ahead or Investigations.
Ongoing Facilitator Support
Investigations facilitators often feel alone, especially at the beginning. And even veteran facilitators encounter situations they haven’t seen before. Here are some sources of ongoing support for facilitators.
At the community level, establish a local Investigations network for facilitators within your college and in other nearby colleges offering Investigations. Or join a local Getting Ahead network for Getting Ahead and Investigations facilitators within your community.
At the national level, facilitators can join the Investigations Facilitator Network, made up of colleges throughout the nation that are offering Investigations. To access resources and connections, contact Lynn Jackson or Ruth Weirich.
Facilitators also can attend aha! Process’s annual national conference, Addressing the Challenges of Poverty, to hear how others are using Investigations and network with facilitators from throughout the country.
To learn more about bringing Investigations to your campus, go to Launching Investigations, You can also find information about the following topics:
To find out what others say about Investigations and their experiences with the curriculum, click on these links:
To learn more about selecting and training Investigations facilitators, call (800) 424-9484 or request more information.