Learning Through Self Reflection

I am getting ready to present a session at a NSW SES Region L&D Forum this weekend. The session is for trainers and assessors who are keen to expand their toolbox when it comes to facilitating great learning.

The best lessons I ever learnt about being a good facilitator were on SES leadership courses, so it seems like a good karmic deal.The best lesson I learnt about facilitation: Telling doesn’t ensure learning. The best learning comes from self reflection and realising things yourself. So a good facilitator asks questions and makes you do the thinking.

This is widely supported by research, such as Hatton & Smith (1995) who observed the benefits of discussions (having a “critical friend”) where another person talked with, questioned, confronted and helped the learner to reflect in a safe environment.So how do you build this into your training and assessment sessions?

Firstly, a good strategy already used across the emergency services and defence forces – The after action review:

  • What did we aim to do/actually acheive?
  • What worked well?
  • What could we do differently next time?

Secondly, using a combination of observations and tunnelling questions:

  • I saw….
  • I heard….
  • What were you thinking when you were doing that?
  • Why did that happen?
  • Have you thought about how a new/experienced person might do that?
  • What could have happened if…?
  • What would you have done if…traffic-light

And one more – The traffic lights! A quick but powerful way to end a session, either as a written reflection, group discussion or individual reflection:

  • What is one thing you will stop doing now?
  • What is one thing you will think about some more/investigate further?
  • What is one thing you will start doing now?

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