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Action Learning: Some principles. Experiential learning Reflection Experience Testing Generalisation The Kolb cycle.

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Presentation on theme: "Action Learning: Some principles. Experiential learning Reflection Experience Testing Generalisation The Kolb cycle."— Presentation transcript:

1 Action Learning: Some principles

2 Experiential learning Reflection Experience Testing Generalisation The Kolb cycle

3 The learning process Planning Experience Action Understanding Observing and reflecting on the consequences of action in a situation Forming or revising understanding of a situation as a result of experience Planning actions to influence the situation based on newly formed or revised understanding Acting or trying out the plan in the situation

4 The learning process (2) Learning = Progammed Knowledge + Insightful Questions (Revans, 1973) Programmed knowledge What we usually deal in Conveyed through books, lectures structured learning Revans associated with poppycock platitude professor Insightful questions Asked at the right time Based on experience or attitudes to project work objective to drive work forward Revans associated with query quiz

5 Features of action learning Voluntary Reflection on experience Participant experts Mutual support and challenge Empowering Gradual development Holistic approach

6 Implementation in final year Action learning used in final year course, 25 students Class divided into three sets at the start of the semester Introductory workshop + top-up reviews of process Involved students in setting syllabus and learning outcomes Possible problems Not understanding process of action learning Trying to solve each others problems Lack of subject knowledge

7 Implementation in second year Action learning used in three courses (75, 70 and 35 students) AL sets combined for first two courses – eight sets Separate sets for third course (semester 2) Introductory workshop + some guided discussion Single sets met in my office Substantial differences in attitudes between semesters Possible problems Not understanding process of action learning Trying to solve each others problems Lack of subject knowledge Fear of sharing knowledge – perception of zero sum game Limited fluency in English Ownership of space – physical and intellectual

8 Student attitudes (1) A lot of your lectures are clean cut, this is the question, this is how we want you to do it,... with a lot of coursework it was just answer this question. For a lot of your kind of exams and that stuff, it is very focused, so you dont really have a choice of how you go about it. Action learning required a different type of engagement

9 Student attitudes (2) Initially you presented your faults and your progress and then others were asking through constructive questions to understand in more detail what you were actually doing….it was the first time Ive done any such thing as action learning and initially I found it a bit challenging encouraged to do much more personal research and actually take our own initiative where we want to go and sort of do our own research, what topics to choose... and go really deep into them Action learning promoted deeper learning and reflection

10 Student attitudes (3) [G]radually it became better as we all got deeper into the research questions or the questions we were researching because then it became much clearer who was keen on working and we started to ask the right questions because we knew a bit more [B]e the active member of the discussion and be sort of the one who can direct the speaker through constructive questions to help them learn and reflect on how they do their own research and how they go about doing their other coursework. Action learning is a useful skill that requires practice

11 Staff expectations Students will use action learning sets to reflect not just upon the projects that they were ostensibly set up to support, but the much wider range of issues that they confront in their learning. Students would use action learning sessions to identify the resources that they needed in order to solve the problems that they had identified, and, especially in the context of project work, that this might include consulting a subject expert on the teaching staff. Students will approach their work in a semester as a project, and plan early on how they are going to assign resources across activities, so that from a given starting point, the desired outcome might be achieved.

12 Communities of practice Final year students: established common knowledge and understanding repertoire of approaches to engaging in supporting each others learning believed this was necessary for them to learn effectively together

13 You couldnt have done it in second year. Theres no way you could have done it because there wasnt the knowledge. Maybe in some other subjects you could have got away with it but I dont think in economics you could have pushed it much earlier. Communities of practice The background knowledge is really really important for the success of the action learning. That you were actually able to give people enough understanding for feedback We knew enough of the subject roughly to make comment on what they were trying to do. And to understand that we could sort of see where they were trying to come from rather than just listening for 10 minutes to something we hadnt a clue about.


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