Facilitation: A Tool for Learning

Facilitation is a great way to engage the audience and help them learn skills through ongoing discussion. Third-year Marketing Management student Anisa Sayani and fourth-year Global Management Studies student Saad Khan, who both work as Peer Academic Coaches at the Academic Success Centre (ASC), write about facilitation as a learning tool and why it is important both within school and beyond.  

What is Facilitation?

Facilitation can be defined as the act of engaging participants to learn something new so they can apply the concepts learned within their own daily lives (Association for Talent Development, 2020). It can be done either in person or in a virtual environment, depending on the situation. Given our current circumstances, facilitation is taking place virtually.

Facilitation at a Glance:

Facilitation is a valuable technique used by teachers to help students acquire, retain and apply their knowledge (Association for Talent Development, 2020). During a typical facilitation session, participants are introduced to the content being learned and are asked to share their thoughts through group discussions. The facilitator’s ultimate goal is to guide students towards a specific learning outcome so they can readily apply the concepts learned within their own daily lives.

Facilitation vs. Presentation:

In a presentation, the presenter spends most of their time speaking, and questions are answered at the end of the presentation.

Facilitation requires everyone to participate in ongoing discussions and activities throughout the session. Everyone plays a role by sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Although the term facilitation is often considered synonymous with presentation, they are actually two different concepts. When it comes to presenting, the presenter typically delivers the information through a lecture, and spends most of their time speaking. Questions are typically asked during the end of a presentation (Association for Talent Development, 2020).

On the other hand, facilitation enhances learning for everyone through ongoing discussions or activities. The facilitator encourages the attendees to share their thoughts and experiences to learn from each other. The facilitator asks questions throughout the session and promotes speaking so that questions can be answered (Association for Talent Development, 2020).

Why is it Important?

For the Facilitator:

As Ted Rogers School students, we believe facilitation skills are critical to possess as they translate to better communication between ourselves and the groups we’re working with (Duffy & Moran, 2011). By facilitating conversations, we are able to meaningfully engage with our peers towards the accomplishment of team goals and objectives (Holst Workplace Effectiveness, 2016). Apart from small group settings, facilitation skills also improve our own listening, questioning and reflection skills within larger class environments (Duffy & Moran, 2011).

Fall 2020 Train to Learn Workshops

At the Ted Rogers School, students are applying their facilitation skills by: co-facilitating Bootcamps offered by the Business Career Hub, facilitating Train to Learn (T2L) workshops at the ASC, becoming Teaching Assistants and participating in course-specific discussion boards and breakout rooms. 

For the Participant:

Facilitation enhances participant learning by providing opportunities to share one’s thoughts and experiences. By creating an interactive group environment, participants are able to relate their experiences to their peers as well as the facilitated content. The ability to establish these connections further deepens one’s understanding of the content.

In addition, facilitation improves the participant’s critical thinking by creating spaces to actively question and analyze topics. This enhanced learning can be particularly useful for students when completing assignments or preparing for tests and exams.

Beyond the Ted Rogers School:

Facilitation skills are also an asset to possess as we move beyond our journeys as students towards our professional careers. Within a business setting, facilitation skills allow us to better gage the strengths of our colleagues and leverage team expertise for projects and tasks (Holst Workplace Effectiveness, 2016). By being able to facilitate, we will also be able to quickly adapt to the needs of our intended audience and communicate our messages accordingly (Holst Workplace Effectiveness, 2016).  

A great way to put these facilitation skills to practice is through the ASC’s Train to Learn Workshops. In these workshops, Peer Academic Coaches guide students through the different learning skills and strategies necessary to becoming successful students. The Train to Learn Workshops cover a wide range of topics pertaining to goal-setting, time management, motivation, purposeful reading, productivity and exam preparation. 

For instance, our Back to Basics (II): Time Management as a Tool for Motivation workshop guides students through the series of connections between time management, motivation and other elements; the implementation of time management tools; and the identification of other online resources and supports.


When it comes to the facilitator, developing skills such as communication, active listening and collaboration are essential to enhancing our experiences as Ted Rogers School students and business professionals. In addition, participants are also able to share their experiences, interact with one another and understand the content on a deeper level. The ASC’s Train to Learn Workshops are one of the many ways students are putting their facilitation skills to practice as they help students develop their own learning skills and strategies.

Association for Talent Development. (2020). What is Facilitation? Retrieved September 28, 2020, from https://www.td.org/talent-development-glossary-terms/what-is-facilitation

Duffy, G. L., & Moran, J. W. (2011). Applications and Tools for Creating and Sustaining Healthy Teams. Retrieved from http://www.phf.org/resourcestools/Documents/Applications_and_Tools_for_Creating_and_Sustaining_Healthy_Teams.pdf

Holst Workplace Effectiveness. (2016, November 29). Focusing on facilitation: Why is facilitation important? Retrieved from https://weareholst.com/why-is-facilitation-important