A study in stand up: Roles and behaviors of excellent trainers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Heimstra


corporate training, professional development, Continuing education, Business education, Teacher education, Inservice training

Subject Categories



A qualitative study of fourteen corporate trainers in Central New York was conducted. The purpose of the study was to understand and identify the repertoire of roles that trainers play as they deliver professional development programs in organizational settings. The purpose was also to show what behaviors evidence the various roles that trainers play, how roles are selected, and how roles are used to pace and lead the participants.

Interviews and observations were conducted throughout 1994-1995. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with each participant, and observations of training seminars, workshops and classes. Data analysis consisted of reviewing interview and field notes, and using the constant comparative method, looking for consistent themes. The data were coded and analyzed using HyperQual2, a customized personal computer software package.

Results of this study are presented in the form of a role competence model, showing the six primary roles of the trainer: expert, entertainer, questioner, coach, listener and counselor. Evidence of how each role was portrayed is offered in narrative form, including numerous quotes from the trainers.

The use of roles to hold interest, individualize instruction for the participants, and create a more interesting and dynamic learning climate were key findings in the study. Role correlations were also explored, and the data offered as prescriptive for training design, reminding trainers of the importance of selecting the most appropriate roles to offer the learners the optimum training experience.


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