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Facilitated Learning Groups

What are they

They are groups of 5 or 6 peers who meet regularly (face-to-face or virtually) to develop together, using a method called “Action Learning”. Action learning is a form of learning intended to have both action outcomes (in the workplace – with organisational results) and developmental outcomes (individual learning and development).  It breaks down the boundary between learning and doing, creating a flow of insight and application in everyday life.

How they work

Individuals bring real work issues, challenges or problems, and take it in turns to be the ‘client’ in the group, when they are being listened to, receive help, challenge and support from their colleagues in order to find new ways of working with their issue.

An action learning group acts simultaneously as a place of learning and challenge – and of refreshment and support. It actively builds networks and collaboration while leaving the major responsibility for change and learning with the individual.

The group provides a balance of support and challenge, creating a “safe” environment which enables each member to act and learn effectively, becoming more aware of group processes and gradually developing more effective teamwork.

The role of each person in the group is (in descending order of importance) to help the client by:

  • Listening – giving their full attention
  • Reflecting back their understanding
  • Summarising
  • Asking questions
  • Letting their intuition work
  • Noticing and sharing their own and others' feelings and insights
  • Offering hypotheses or own experience
  • Not trying to solve their problem for them

The Facilitator is not the owner of ‘expertise’ in the group and is not there to consult to each person in turn on their particular issue.  His/her main role is to create and maintain an environment, a “space”, where the whole group can use its capacity to consult and counsel each other.

Individuals within an Action Learning group learn at three levels:

  1. about the issue being worked on
  2. about themselves (and other members of the group)
  3. about the process of learning itself i.e., learning to learn

The 2nd and 3rd levels are essential for the transfer of learning to other situations.

Participative and active learn through joint inquiry and reflection (reality, context and practice)

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