Learnership Management System


Index cards or post-its, or indeed previously prepared and printed cards, can be used in a variety of ways in a training setting. This technique of offering participants a set of prepared and printed cards is especially useful when participants need to become more familiar with important information.

These card exercises can be used with participants for ranking, sorting, and prioritising, or as a follow-up to a brainstorming exercise where a large number of ideas have been suggested that then need to be processed (see section on brainstorming above).


Card sorts: Various ranking exercises are based on the use of index cards, each one containing one item from the original list of suggestions. Sets of these cards are given to small groups who, through discussion, sort them into their preferred order of priority. Sets can also be given to individuals who, having sorted their cards, compare their choices with another individual in the group.

Combined sort: In this variation of a card sort, each individual is given a complete set of the same cards. The individual then prepares his/her personal set of priorities. Individuals then combine as pairs and discuss their individual priorities and agree on a joint list. Pairs then combine as quartets to compare pair sets and produce an agreed set of priorities as a quartet. This process continues until one priority list is agreed and produced by the whole group.

Diamond ranking: A further variation of the card sort is best used when the facilitator has more control over the number of options available since it requires exactly nine items to be ranked or prioritised. One of the difficulties with ranking exercises is that people often want to give two or more items the same rank placement. Diamond ranking recognises that there is often a most preferred and a least preferred item and that the others are bunched up in the middle. The facilitator will have prepared sets of nine items on separate cards to be prioritised.

Small groups are given a set of the cards and are asked to rank them in a diamond shape (see below).


The single items at the top and the bottom of the diamond are the most and the least preferred; the two items below and above these are the next in order; the three items across the centre are of middle order importance, with little to differentiate between them. This exercise is useful for those occasions where it is not easy/possible to rank strictly in order of preference sequentially.

Ranking and prioritising options are almost inevitable in most training courses where participants have the opportunity to generate ideas. The facilitator should have a repertoire of these techniques that can be brought out as required to suit the circumstances of the situation.

Examples where ranking, sorting, and prioritising might be used effectively

• To reinforce familiarity with specific clauses of a legal standard.

• When participants are required to make difficult choices between a number of alternatives.

• To explore underlying values in a non-threatening way.

• To examine differences of view between individuals and groups.

Situation cards: This exercise uses a number of postcards or post-it pads to present to participants examples of real-life situations that they may encounter and to encourage them to think about what they would do next in certain situations.

Cards often take the form of:

• What would you do if…?

• How would you feel if…?

• What would your response be if…?


Participants can work together in groups of five or six. Each group has a set of cards that are distributed to the participants who then take it in turn to read out their situation and describe to the others how they would react. Other members of the group are encouraged to add their reactions and responses and to suggest other alternatives. According to the needs of the exercise, debate can continue until the best solution is reached.

Examples of where situation cards might be used effectively

• Situation cards describing different options for the future development of a project can be used to clarify the implications of choosing certain courses of action.

• Where participants are exploring the ways in which they handle particular situations, cards can be developed and distributed for discussion.