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Answer steps are valuable teaching tools that are just as useful as the worksheets you make. Answer keys that include steps break down the thinking process into a teachable strategy. This ultimately helps promote consistent thinking patterns that are transferable to other tasks. It also helps you to pinpoint exactly where in the process an apprentice is having difficulty.

When writing answer steps, keep the following in mind:

1. Number each step

The numbers show a sequence which makes it easier for learners to follow.

Answer keys aren’t just for instructors – they are invaluable for apprentices too. Well set up answer keys help apprentices navigate through material and make them better organized with locating information and answering questions. The set up of these answer keys guide apprentices to find the information they need to get the answer, which, in turn, will encourage independent thinking and learning.

Below are some tips to help you write answer keys.

Apprenticeship used to include long talks and job shadowing between a journeyperson mentor and apprentice, but times have changed. With today’s demanding production targets and changing demographics, companies have become more dependent on technical training to fulfill this mentoring role.

Apprentices with Level 2 Essential Skills will struggle with technical training. They need clearly laid out learning materials and are not very good at explaining what they are having difficulty with. They may require individual tutoring.

Typically, 30 to 50% of apprentices have Level 3 Essential Skills. At this level, apprentices are becoming independent learners and can explain what they are having difficulty with, but they are still struggling with some technical training material. They need help with strategies for organizing material from different sources and need extra practice with trade applications. Technical instructors can teach learning strategies to help apprentices strengthen the skills they need to pass technical training.

Many apprentices, regardless of Essential Skill level, do not spend a lot of time reading outside the classroom. As a result, they may need more practice in reading regulations, standards and codebooks. You can help apprentices to overcome reading challenges by drawing attention to the way text is organised and by teaching reading strategies.

1. Identify the purpose for reading

To help apprentices with low reading skills, explain:

Consider how often you ask your apprentices a question or give instructions, either verbal or written. When communicating, more words mean more information, and sometimes extra words aren’t necessary for making your point.

Using plain language is an effective way to make your point efficiently.

Compare these two technical training tasks. The second version of the same task (on the right) is written in plain language. Fewer, precise words keep the task brief and easy to scan.

When apprentices organize information on paper as they work through a complex math question, they improve accuracy and minimize calculation mistakes. An instructor should model how to organize work while completing a question and point out the benefits of this approach.

Some apprentices need support to build math confidence, especially at the beginning of technical training. Students entering trades training might have weak math skills and feel anxious about the math component of technical training. They may have dropped math courses early in their secondary school education or it may be a long time since they were in school.

Your apprentices can take an active role in their learning, whether it is in the classroom or working on site with a journeyperson. Teaching them about closed questions and open responses is one way of getting them involved in how much and how quickly they learn.