Resource Orientation

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In citizenship education the impact of a training or seminar approves in practice - often far long after our work as facilitators is done. When participants need to take the next steps into practice independently from us, we could strengthen their self-esteem and trust in their already existing knowledge and skills. This idea of resource orientation contrasts with the approach of deficit orientation in trainings.

Resource Orientation

Deficit Orientation


  • Takes into account participants’ existing knowledge and expertise
  • Focuses on options and possibilities
  • Focuses on developments
  • Identifies learning material within the process


  • Based on teachers’ or experts’ knowledge and expertise
  • Elaborates on the complexities and disadvantages of various options
  • Emphasizes on the learning material
  • Defines of learning material in advance

As resource-oriented facilitators, we can strengthen learners’ self-esteem and trust in their existing knowledge and skills. We might also create an atmosphere that fosters a critical view of skill development. It makes a difference to learners whether you present yourself as a “glass-is-half-empty” or a “glass-is-half-full” type of person and if you apply this perspective to them. This is not a question of methodology, rather of attitude – the right method and the wrong attitude simply don't fit together.

One way to show this attitude is to interact with the group. Be willing to share resources if you expect your participants to do so as well. Tell them about your experiences if you want them to share their own. Show a supportive attitude and mobilize solidarity with participants if you expect them to develop a trustful and open atmosphere for deeper experiential learning.

The attitude proves its worth in practice, especially in complex situations such as a lack of time, a goal dilemma or a conflict. Keeping this in mind, we remain friendly, active facilitators, no matter how challenging the circumstances are.

Facilitators take participants’ resources seriously by...

  • Relating to others in a authentic way and equally.
  • Making learning steps and goals transparent
  • Adjusting the methods and the plan according to participants’ wishes and needs. Explaining their underlying needs as facilitators, negotiating fairly.
  • Participation: Giving the group opportunities to decide on relevant issues and accepting their decisions
  • Implementing Cooperative Learning
  • Strengthen learners ability to find solutions, be careful and conscious with giving advice.
  • Activating the learnes' ressources in the educational concept
  • Respecting their rights and needs

Measuring Developments

Facilitators may observe or measure a development, the degree of knowledge and to some extent as well, how able a person is to use his or her skills. These informations help our participants to motivate for further self-learning.


Willingness and ability to progress depend from motivation. Such, resource-oriented facilitation seeks to strengthen self-motivation and creates motivational conditions.

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Editor of Competendo. Coordinator of the project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship. Network Secretary of the DARE network. Topics: active citizenship, civil society, digital transformation, non-formal and lifelong learning, capacity building. Blogs here: Blog: Civil Resilience. Email:

Holistic Learning


Planning experiential, inspirational and participatory learning processes in non-formal education.


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