Action Learning in Education and Training
Action learning is a process that involves people working in a group to resolve real problems, taking actions and learning as a team and as individuals. It helps develop creative and flexible strategies to problems; taking steps to solve a problem and also evaluating its effectiveness i.e. learning from the actions you take.
Action learning principles must be employed within a course for students to resolve and take action on real problems and learn while doing so. It encourages new theories and ideas to take place without having to go through traditional teaching methods. It is based on the idea of growth and development of individuals with collaborative professional learning with the belief that teachers shall be provided with the opportunity and structures to share their expertise and reflect on their practice to identify and resolve significant learning challenges.
Moreover, the process includes innovative ideas and methodologies such as case studies, teaching others and peer problem-solving. For instance, a group case study will help solve a problem as defined in the case by suggesting multiple solutions per group and contributing individual expertise to learn about others’ opinions and solve a problem. This is an example of a powerful action learning assignment.
It, therefore, facilitates reflection, the action may not directly lead to learning but reflecting on the action leads to learning. For example; if we elaborate on the case study example further we can understand and reflect on the follow-up activity as part of the case study session that takes into account various reflective questions such as:
1. What was the learning point in the activity?
2. How could I have done differently?
3. Was the approach correctly used by all team members to solve the problem?
Answering these questions will lead us to a point where we elaborate on the experience and learn to make it better and much more effective in the future. Hence, following the action learning approach.
Is action learning essential for teaching students?
Action learning is not a specific teaching method but an approach that encourages learning within a team environment.
Learning is acquired through dedication to the task where users show an urge to learn through collective activities and practices.
An action learning program will cover aspects of traditional learning models and a series of presentations and topics specifically, building knowledge for a live project. And throughout the course participants are expected to work with other participants and qualified facilitators who observe them throughout and provide feedback in the end. A facilitator is not an advisor or a supervisor because that might end up creating an environment not suitable for free discussion, reflection and critical analysis.
Moreover, the process is assessed in the end by using some key performance indicators that are not a part of the traditional forms of teaching methodologies. However, conventional forms such as surveys and examinations can still be used as per the training course outline.