Review Reflection & Generalisation
(Extract from Book one of the series Enterprising Ways to Teach and Learn 2nd edition)
Put simply Review, Reflection and Generalisation (RRG) is about making sense out of what has happened or is happening. Recognising exceptions, Generalisation involves drawing conclusions, which may be useful in the future as principles or ‘rules of thumb’.
A common fault is that too much time is spent on the experience and not enough on reflection. When learners undertake projects, the learning does not just soak into their brains and stay there ready to be usefully applied next time. It cannot be left to chance and osmosis, otherwise the learning runs the risk of being shallow and transitory. The ultimate goal is to create an open and free discussion that is informed, efficient and democratic.
Without RRG you will waste about 35%* of the value of experiential learning!
Consider some of the strategies below:
• hold regular debriefing sessions
• organise quizzes about information and knowledge gained
• introduce debates
• appraise video recordings of processes and events
• require work/time/thought logs
• instigate peer/self-assessment
• use pro-formas
• require briefings to teacher on progress
• demand progress reports
• organise presentations and dialogue
The effective use of prompts will both focus and enrich RRG.
Use those techniques and strategies in the appendix and elsewhere to ‘prime’ students for further discussion and analysis; they are not ends in themselves.
Conduct RRG throughout the activity not just at the end
The major weakness of conventional review and reflection approaches is the notion of review is entirely retrospective. Reflecting throughout the entire experience is critical for a number of reasons. For example, projects and larger scale activities are characterised by a series of processes involving an array of situations and skills, which in themselves deserve significant analysis. These opportunities for greater reflection can be lost in an all encompassing debrief. At a more pragmatic level, constant reflection allows students to take stock and make adjustments as they go.
Use a structured approach
Another weakness of conventional RRG approaches is the over-reliance on unstructured discussion - typically involving the facilitator leading the group through a series of ad hoc questions (many of which the facilitator answers). As important as this process is, it is better preceded by a more structured investigation and analysis. A structured approach ensures that most learners are engaged, important areas are covered, and a basis for drawing conclusions is established.
Encourage individual thought
It is good practice to encourage learners, as individuals, to ‘think first’ before analysing ideas and drawing conclusions. This makes individuals think for themselves, and creates an expectation that everyone will participate in the RRG process.
Encourage a challenging mentality
The occasional use of negative prompts can challenge thinking and stimulate greater debate. "What was your foolhardy decision?" An over-reliance on the positive perspective can produce simplifications and clichés rather than robust analysis. For example, if you ask participants to draw up a set of negative criteria for an unsuccessful project, the criteria they put forward are likely to be more detailed and challenging, than if they were asked for positive criteria. Plus the occasional negative criteria invites disagreement, which is useful for reaching thoughtful conclusions.
Dedicate time exclusively for RRG
Planning designated sessions enhances quality RRG by ensuring that matters are not lost amidst the ‘action’, as so often happens. This is not to detract from the great importance of seizing opportunities for reflection as they arise during the course of activities.
Designing prompts and ‘tools’ beforehand will help you to target the outcomes you want.
Strive for specificity
Likewise specificity is important when it comes to prompts. It allows all involved to talk, analyse and respond in detail.
*This figure (35%) is entirely arbitrary, designed to draw attention to the importance of Review and Reflection.
This file details techniques, along with ready-to-use tools that are available in Book One of the Enterprising Ways to Teach and Learn series 2nd edition