What is Frontloading and How Is It Done?

Frontloading means punctuating the key learning points before an activity or experience takes place, rather than or in combination with, debriefing it afterwards.


When does Frontloading take place?

Frontloading may take place either before, during, or after an instructional briefing, before participants take action.


What are the benefits of frontloading? 

  • It helps participants use the upcoming activity to build on prior knowledge and experience
  • It helps participants set purpose and intention for the activity
  • It distributes expertise to the participants before the activity begins, as opposed to the facilitator or instructor being the only expert


How can I incorporate Frontloading in activities or experiences that I’m facilitating?

Direct frontloading typically addresses one or more of the following types of questions that you may wish to incorporate in your program. The following question examples are from Priest & Gass’s Effective Leadership In Adventure Programming, 1993:


Objective Questions: ask about the aims of the activity and what can be learned or gained from the experience.


Motivation Questions: ask why experiencing this activity may be important and how learning relates to daily life.


Function Questions: ask what behaviors will help bring about success and how the group may optimize them.


Dysfunction Questions: ask what behaviors will hinder success and how the group can avoid or overcome them.


Revisiting Previous Dysfunction: Revisiting reminds group members of the behaviors they pledged to perform after the last activity. For example, after a facilitator explains the task they can pose a question such as “What were the commitments that the group made last time?”. “This will bring the previous answers to the “do things differently next time” question to the front of clients’ minds so that clients re more likely to act on their revisited affirmations during the activity”


*Beware of overwhelming participants with too much frontloading: the average person can juggle 5 to 9 thoughts in the mind at once. Activities and challenges often have numerous instructional points. Consider your intentions and objectives carefully when selecting appropriate frontloading questions.



JUMP! Facilitator Notes

Priest & Gass, Effective Leadership In Adventure Programming, p.208, Boulder, Co Association for Experiential Education,1993.

Daniels and Zemelman, and Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. Frontloading: Preparing Students For Success. Boise State University. Accessed October 17, 2014. http://www.slcschools.org/departments/curriculum/language-arts/documents/Frontloading_2013-02-05.pdf)