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A fouth step …

February 17, 2008

There is school of thought that suggests a fourth or contemplation step for the student. If you downloaded the pdf version of the training cycle, you will have seen the reference to this step and why we don’t consider it as part of the training cycle. The argument I give is that it cannot be controlled or modelled effectively enough to include it our trainers tool box.

It can still be utilised though.

There are many sources that indicate that the student will need time to reflect on the training just as muscles need time to heal between gym sessions. Have you ever woken up at 2 am and thought ‘eureka – that’s it’ or ‘maybe I should try this approach’. What about not being able to do something one day but being able the next?

So how do we create an environment for this type learning to flourish?

Well, we actually already do i(n part) when we set remedial tasks or activities to be completed between training sessions. However, we need to relax our ‘goal based’ approach to the activities and focus more on students reviewing what they have already learned. We shift from defined outcomes to encouraging ‘reflective learning’ where the student is free to draw their own conclusions.

This type of learning is extremely powerful because if incurs a sense of ownership. It can also occur with traditional remedial activities to target identified weakness and stimulate development.

Tips for reflective learning

These are some reflective learning activities that I use:

  • ‘open’ exercises that encourage free thinking such as asking why something is done or how else a task may be achieved,
  • unusual references or resources e.g. Company policy says …., but what is the legislated or our competitor’s standard, or
  • Have student design a lesson or a guide for other students explaining a task or procedure (sometimes I throw in additional constraints – pictures only, demonstration etc).

I know that my focus is usually on ‘goal based’ learning where each activity has a specific, measurable outcome but occasionally we can drop the constraints. Don’t forget to review the results before the next session because ‘bad habits’ can be just as easy to learn as the good ones.

I personally consider this as technique as opposed to an actual step, otherwise it would be one I would regularly skip. I only use reflective learning when there is a problem to be fixed or area that needs to be developed and this is what I consider the best strategy . However I can honestly say that I have seen others use this extensively with good results.

I think you will need to carefully consider the topic, the student and the environment before relying on contemplative learning to achieve your training objectives, but it is still a handy utensil in our tool set.

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