Action Learning is essentially a theory of learning through experience, primarily for work-based problems and is underpinned by a belief that the potential of individuals harnessed in a group dynamic can create knowledge, solutions and change (Weisnstein, 1999). This means working and learning simultaneously, or learning from what we do.
While the experience may suggest this self evident in all that we do, Action Learning is defined through a cyclical process of experiencing, reviewing, concluding and planning (Mitchell and McKenna, 2008). Serrat (2008) defines the cycle slightly differently in terms of planning, acting, reflecting, learning, but it is essentially the same. In that Action Learning is cyclical and over several sessions the process continually shifts through this cycle as group members begin to interact, discuss and analyse, create knowledge and come to conclusions about the problem at hand.
From the Action Learning Association (2011) website we can see that constitute parts of an action learning cycle consist of the following:
The problem or focus for activity.
The Client - the person who’s problem it is.. They know, care and can implement its solution. •
The action learning set – the place, time and group membership where participants meet to share their experience. This is the central aspect action learning; questioning, confrontation, challenging, reflecting and the support which takes place provides the dynamism, encouragement and stimulus for the group to create. •
The facilitator is an individual who 'facilitates' the learning through questioning, mirroring, challenging and supporting. •
The sponsor - takes responsibility for the programme. In a work based environment this may be the manager.
The role of the facilitator is of particular importance in the early stages of the process as the group develops and the problem is unpacked. As the emphasis of Action Learning is on the group interactions and the outcomes...
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