Once you’ve enrolled your techs (hopefully with your company discount code), it’s time to consider how they should train. The best training outcomes happen when techs are well-supervised by their manager during training. Here is all the information and tools you need, as an employer or supervisor, to get the most out of your training investment.
Documents You’ll Need
Supervisor Information Sheet: Download
Training Plan: Download
Tech Progress Sheet: Download
Example Tech Progress Sheet: Download
Creating a Training Plan
How to Structure the Tech’s Study Time
Online training offers a lot of flexibility, so it’s fair to wonder what the best way is for structuring a tech’s study time. Here are some general suggestions based on our experience with students and feedback from employers.
- Communicate your expectations clearly. Fill out the training plan above to give your tech clear training instructions and goals, and use the tech progress sheet to create a regular study schedule. If you want your techs to become Master Samurai Tech certified, make sure they understand the criteria for earning that! (Average of 80% or higher on all unit quizzes, plus at least a 90% score on each module, midterm, and final exam, where applicable.)
- Mix studying time with “hands-on” time. For every hour or two of studying, a student-tech should perform a few hours of service calls. This improves their interest and retention of the course material. If they are a rookie, then they should accompany a more experienced tech on his/her service calls. (See other possible variations at the end of this page.)
- Work on the courses at a steady pace. Though students can train at their own pace, for optimum results, students should work on the courses most every day of the week, with an hour or so per study session.
- Encourage repetition. While it’s great to incentivize your tech to continue progressing through the course, sometimes the most important progress is made when a student repeats a lesson. This is especially true in the Basic Electricity module of the Core course. This is challenging material that often takes some repetition to master (though it pays off in the long run, big time!). So watch out for signs that the tech is rushing through in order to “get it over with,” and be sure any incentives you’ve set up don’t accidentally encourage this.
- Encourage note taking. Each tech should have a notebook and take notes on each lesson. It’s especially important that they get in the habit of taking notes on the videos. If the tech seems to be struggling, ask to see their notebook so you can evaluate how well they are practicing this important study habit.
- Encourage use of interactive features. We witness so many “aha” moments when we interact with students in the Ask the Teacher Forums that it’s a shame when students don’t take advantage of the opportunity for personal help from Team Samurai. Encourage your tech to ask questions, especially if you know they are struggling with a concept. We generally answer questions within 24 hours (usually much less) at the Forums.
- Be flexible. Every student learns a little differently, so be open to tweaking your training program in response to how your tech is doing with the course(s).
Where They Should Study
We’ve heard from a lot of business owners and service managers over the years, and what we’ve learned is: there’s no one right way to do it. A lot depends on your business structure and each individual tech.
Some techs are asked to do the coursework from their homes, and others are given time and space at the office during the work day to study. Ask yourself: which environment is more conducive to their concentration? Do they concentrate better with a little activity going on around them, or do they need uninterrupted quiet time? Also remember, some techs simply need more supervision than others.
Setting the Right Training Attitude
A positive attitude towards learning, where a student holds themself accountable, produces powerful results. Not all techs come to their training with this attitude, for a variety of reasons. Some never felt they were good students in school, some have developed lazy habits, some don’t understand why they are required to spend the time and effort to go through the courses. As their manager, you will need to identify any of these negative attitudes and help them shape more positive ones.
Training at the Academy is ultimately for them. They are the ones who will benefit most from gaining the knowledge and skills taught here, as it will increase their earning potential and job security. These courses aren’t filled with fluff or non-useful information, like they may have felt their previous schooling did.
Here’s an important example of holding themselves accountable in the Academy. When they take a quiz for the first time, they should look over the results and identify any questions that they missed. Even if their score is technically acceptable (say, over 80% for a unit quiz), why move on when there is something they didn’t get? They can go back over the material to try to figure out the answer, or ask a question in the Ask the Teacher Forum. Then they can take the quiz a second time and aim to get 100%.
Certification is not the ultimate goal – being well-trained is. Certification just sets the benchmark and attests to that ultimate achievement.
Tracking Student Progress
To help you track the progress of each student, use our tech progress sheet. Here are some other ways to track their progress.
- If you have two or more techs enrolled at the Academy, we can create a Supervisor Dashboard for you, so that you can see all of your techs’ progress in one location. Just use our contact form to request this. Please give us the names of the techs who you want on the dashboard, and any additional supervisors at your company who should have a dashboard as well.
- If you only have one tech enrolled, log in (with your tech’s username/password) and check on their progress and quiz scores at a glance. This is how most business owners and service managers supervise their technician-students. The supervisor should have a regular routine of checking on the student’s progress through the course and quiz/exam scores.
- There are a number of communications that occur between the Master Samurai Tech course software, Team Samurai, and the students. These include quiz grades, module completions, exam scores, etc. If the tech’s email address for their account is a work-specific address, then you can set up automatic forwarding to receive a copy of each email to track their progress.
NOTE: Occasionally we make changes or additions to a course. For students that have completed the course, this could result in the software showing less than 100% progress. That’s just how the software interprets the scenario. Keep this in mind if there seems to be a discrepancy in percentage complete vs. what your tech is reporting to you.
If you have any questions at any time about your techs and their progress, please contact us!
Evaluating a Tech’s Performance
Every unit in the course has a quiz at the end, and every module has an exam, which consists of quiz questions from the units in that module. These quizzes and exams are automatically graded, though in the Core course, there are two exams (a midterm and final) with “open answer” questions that are graded by Team Samurai. Two attempts are allowed per quiz and exam, giving the student a chance to study and retake any quiz or exam a second time in order to improve their score.
You can determine what performance you would like your tech to achieve in the courses. Here is the standard we have set in order for a student to earn MST Certification:
- 80% or higher on each unit quiz
- 90% or higher score on each module, midterm, and final exam, where applicable.
In any event, students should always be encouraged to figure out the answer to any questions they miss on a quiz or exam! If they can’t find the answers by looking back over the course material, then they can ask questions in the Ask the Teacher Forums.
Emphasizing Academic Honesty
In a multi-tech shop, it can be tempting for a tech to ask a coworker for help on a quiz or exam. They may not think they’re cheating, but if they get an answer correct on an exam without actually having learned the material, they’re not doing you any favors.
We have a clear Honor Code at the site that each student agrees to (you can read our Honor Code at our Terms and Conditions page), but supervisors should also emphasize the importance of a tech doing 100% of their own work and the consequences of violating the Code. Some employers, as an accountability measure, require their techs to take certain exams, such as the midterm and final, in the office under supervision.
If a tech is struggling, the best place to ask questions is in the Ask the Teacher Forums, where we can give them the help they need. We’ve got lots of experience of helping techs have breakthroughs in understanding, in a way that isn’t just giving them the answers.
Here are some other variations we’ve heard of on how to schedule a tech’s studies.
Two-week Core Appliance Training: One of our business owners gives a new hire two weeks in the office to focus on taking and completing the Core Appliance Repair Training course. If they achieve their Master Samurai Tech Certification, then they’re ready for the road. If they’re unable to complete the course or achieve high enough scores to get Certified, then it’s a sign this might not be the right career for that person. So far this has worked well for them. Pay attention to the temperament of the student—some folks may have a hard time focussing on computer-based lessons for that long of a stretch. You may have to try a blend: a half-day in the office, a half-day riding along. Or one day studying then one day riding along. It’s worth nothing though that retention of the material is often not as good when the course is completed so quickly.
Group training: Group training is fine using the material in the Academy as long as each tech has their own enrollment in the course(s)! At least one of our business owners took the Academy courses himself first, and now puts all of his techs through our courses. When possible, he will spend some time in group training with techs who are going through the courses – watching some of the presentations and videos together, discussing the quiz questions, etc. Then each tech will study and take the quizzes on his own as well.
If you have any questions or your own feedback for us, please let us know using our Contact Form! And thank you for trusting Master Samurai Tech for your training needs.