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The Role Of Reflection In Learning It is a vital component to behavioral change By Emma Weber “The transformation of learning is a powerful story, and most organizations are still in the first or second act of this multi-act drama.” Bersin by Deloitte, 2016 Global Human Capital Trends A recent HBR article titled “Why organizations don’t learn” looked at why companies struggle to become or remain “learning organizations”. Interestingly, the number 2 challenge to this situation is that organizations are not allowing time for reflection. They challenge that workers being “always on” does not allow time for reflection on successes and also what went wrong. Authors Gino and Staats summarize that although it may be cheaper and easier to ignore failures and any time for reflection, this will limit the learning opportunities for the organization. By allowing time for reflection, organizations could unleash true improvement as a learning entity. Today reflection is recognized as a vital component to behavioral change as it encourages the learner to assimilate the change, making it personal and relevant to their situation. Without this, the information is abstract and one dimensional, so it is easy to dismiss or ignore the directive. If the employee is supported and encouraged to apply that information to a real situation at work and can see how positively the interaction turns out, then they are much more likely to maintain the change. Unfortunately, reflection is often ignored in favour of reinforcement. Instead of allowing people time to think about the change, they are either told and re-told about the importance of the change, or given supplementary information about the change. Reflection is very different from reinforcement and should never be ignored or underestimated. Reinforcement, sustainability, embedding and transfer of learning are hot topics, and with an increased emphasis on business impact, the pressure is on trainers to make learning truly valuable beyond a traditional classroom learning environment. But what do these terms really mean? In reality each is seeking behavioural change as the end goal. People must be supported with their behavioral adjustments after learning to allow their change to ‘stick’. As mentioned, at the heart of successful behavioral change is reflection. Another industry report from Towards Maturity; “Transforming Formal Learning”, found reflection to play a critical role in the learning COVER Article process, and, if used effectively and purposefully, can help embed concepts and theories from formal learning into practice. Learning from the Top Deck, we can see that of practitioners who are enhancing the application and transfer of learning into the workplace, 80% encourage and make time for reflection, and 45% encourage learners to keep reflective learning logs. Stefano, Gino, Pisano & Staats (2014) also found that reflecting on learning and experience is in fact far more influential than learning from experience. And that’s not all. A recent paper from Ruth Helyer (2015) found that when done well, reflection can facilitate ongoing learning and also provide a structure to make sense of learning so that it can be embedded into real change. The evidence is overwhelming. Reflecting on learning experiences can be a powerful method of progressing learning goals. Any behavioral change solution to support learners should have reflection at its core. Without reflection, learning is wasted. To make reflection truly effective, it needs to be paired with an accountability framework to maximise the results from change. We can’t force people to change, we can’t yell at them, plead with them, cajole or punish them to change. We can’t give them information and expect that they will automatically change work habits and processes that they have been using for years. They need a structured process of intervention and support that allows the individual to choose the aspects of the change they want to implement first, give them time to reflect on the outcome of those behaviors and hold them accountable to making the change. T&D Source: • Helyer, R. (2015). Learning Through Reflection: The Critical Role of Reflection in Work-Based Learning (WBL). Journal of Work-Applied Management, vol. 7, issue 1 (2015), pg. 15-27. • Gino, F., & Staats, B. (2015). Why Organizations Don’t Learn. Harvard Business Review • Stefano, G. D., Gino, F., Pisano, G. & Staats, B. (2014). Making Experience Count: The Role of Reflection in Individual Learning (June 14, 2016). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 14-093; Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 14-093. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn. com/abstract=2414478 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2414478 Emma Weber is CEO & Founder of Lever – Transfer of Learning and developer of the Turning Learning into Action™ (TLA) methodology. A recognized authority on the transfer of learning, Emma has been a guest speaker on learning effectiveness at conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and the USA. She shares her passion and expertise through her writing - ‘Turning Learning into Action: a proven methodology for effective transfer of learning’ which was published in March 2014 by Kogan Page. Connect Emma Weber Follow @emmaweber Would you like to comment? Training and Development Excellence Essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2017 Submit your Articles 5


T&D_APRIL2017
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