Employer Resource Page
This page offers tips and suggestions for employers or service managers who are supervising techs enrolled in the MST Academy. We update this page periodically to incorporate feedback and ideas that we get from employers who are using the Academy.
Online training can be very effective, especially with a motivated student. Since motivation may vary among your employees, it is critical that you or someone in your office communicates clearly what you expect out of your tech's studies at the Academy and then monitors their progress.
Enrolling Your Tech in the MST Academy
NOTE: Make sure that you've let Team Samurai know if you are the employer or service manager of a student at the Academy! We need to know who to stay in touch with.
Keeping Track of Student Progress
1. Click here to see how you can 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/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.
Here's a video showing what's available in the Member's Area:
2. E-mail. There are a number of communications that occur between the MST course software, Team Samurai, and the students. These include quiz grades, module completions, exam scores, etc. If the tech's email address for the Academy is a work-specific address, then you can set it up (in their email account) where you also get a copy of emails sent to them. That way you'd see these emails as well, which is a very convenient way to track progress.
Some business owners have a company email address set up for their techs. Others simply set up a free Gmail address that is for work/training use only. You can arrange for either of these to forward to you. (Note: this is not done on our end - it has to be done in the email account itself.)
If you have any questions at any time about your techs and their progress, please contact us!
How to Structure the Tech's Study Time
Online training offers a lot of flexibility, which often makes supervisors wonder what is the best way for a tech's day to be structured when they are taking MST courses. Here are some general suggestions based on our experience with students and feedback from employers.
1. Communicate your expectations clearly. Whatever schedule you decide on after reading the rest of this page, create a clear set of instructions for your tech as to his/her study schedule and performance goals (quiz scores). Most employers want their techs to achieve MST Certification - 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.)
2. Mix studying time with "hands-on" time. Retention and interest in the course material are optimized when there is a combination of studying and application. In other words, for every hour or two of studying, a student-tech should have a few hours of doing service calls. If they are a rookie, then they would do service calls as a second tech alongside a more experienced tech. (See other possible variations at the end of this page.)
3. Work on the courses should be done at a steady pace, not too fast or too slow, without long breaks in between study sessions. Ideally the student should work on the courses most every day of the week, an hour or so each study session.
4. Encourage repetition. While it's great to have incentives and encouragement to make steady progress in a course, sometimes the most important progress is made when a student repeats some lessons. This is especially true in the Basic Electricity module of the Fundamentals course. Even though it is near the beginning of the course, this is challenging material that often takes some repetition to master. It pays off in the long run, big time! So watch out for signs that they are rushing through in order to "get it over with," and be sure any incentives you've set up don't accidentally encourage this.
5. Encourage Use of Interactive Features. We witness so many "aha" moments when we interact with students in the Student Forums or at Office Hours! It's a shame when students don't take advantage of these opportunities for personal help from Team Samurai. Encourage your tech to ask questions, especially if you know they are struggling in some way. We generally answer questions within 24 hours (usually much less) at the Forums, and the Office Hours always features some time for live Q&A. If you think your tech would benefit from the live Q&A, consider helping to make time for that when needed.
6. Be flexible. Every student learns a little differently, so be open to tweaking your MST Academy training program in response to how your tech is doing with the course(s).
Emphasize Academic Honesty
In a multi-tech shop it can be tempting for a tech to ask a co-worker for help on a quiz or exam. They may not think that they are cheating, but it can often result in getting an answer correct on an exam without them having actually learned the material. We have a clear Honor Code at the site that each student agrees to, but supervisors should also emphasize the importance of a tech doing 100% of his work on quizzes and exams.
If they are 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!
Something to consider: for the Fundamentals course, require your techs to take their midterm and final exams in the office. Some employers require this as an extra accountability measure.
How to Evaluate a Tech's Performance
Every unit in the course has a quiz at the end, and every module has an exam, which is comprised of quiz questions from the units in that module. These quizzes and exams are automatically graded, and there are two attempts allowed. This gives the student a chance to study and retake any quiz or exam a second time in order to improve their score.
In the Fundamentals course, there are two exams (a midterm and final) with "open answer" questions that are graded by Team Samurai.
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, and a 90% or higher score on each module, midterm, and final exam, where applicable. Certification requirements are NOT based on averages.
In any event, each student 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 Student Forums or at our live, weekly webinars.
Where Should They Study?
We've gotten a lot of feedback from business owners and service managers who have put their techs through the MST Academy, so we've seen various methods and structures employed. 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. Which is the best environment that is conducive to concentration? That's not always a simple answer, because each student has his own particular characteristics. Does he concentrate better with a little activity going on around him, or does he need some uninterrupted quiet time? Which location is he most likely to get that environment? Also, some techs simply need more supervision than others.
A positive attitude towards learning, where a student holds himself/herself 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 Student Forum (assuming they are in Bundle 1). Then they can take the quiz a second time and aim to get 100%.
Certification is not actually the ultimate goal - being well-trained is. Certification just sets the benchmark, and is an incentive to help celebrate that ultimate achievement.
Here are some other variations we’ve heard of on how to schedule a tech’s studies at the Academy.
Two-week Fundamentals: One of our business owners recently experimented with giving a new hire 2 weeks in the office to focus on taking and completing the Fundamentals of Appliance Repair course. If he achieves his MST Certification, then they start putting him on the road. If a tech is ever unable to complete the course or achieve high enough scores to get Certified, then they figure that will be a sign that this isn’t the right career for that person. So far this has worked well for them. You would have to pay attention to the temperament of the student. Some folks my have a hard time focussing on computer-based lessons for that long of a stretch. You may have to do a blend: half day in the office, half day riding along. Or one day studying then one day riding along.
Group training: (Note - group training is fine using the material in the Academy as long as each tech has his 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.