Managing the action/reflection polarity through dialogue: A path to transformative learning

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
ISBN
0 908557 54 X
Abstract 

It has been said that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Yet, in the current work and educational climate of increasing pressure to produce relentlessly, a key to success has been all but eliminated. Our recent research (Laiken, 2001; Laiken, Edge, Friedman & West, forthcoming) has highlighted managing the paradox of task versus process, or action versus reflection, as a critical factor in blocking or conversely, facilitating, transformative learning. This article examines the design of a graduate course to help students experience and apply their learning in managing the action/reflection tension to team work in organizations across work sectors. By creating an environment in which learners can safely experiment with new behaviour, reflect on the outcomes, and extrapolate principles which can then be applied in future team experiences, the graduate course results in learning which is described by students as “transformative”. The application of this learning to improve the functioning of their own course “team”, as well as teams in their workplace settings, is demonstrated through scenario descriptions drawn from final course papers. A case is made for attention to managing the action/reflection polarity through dialogic processes, in order to create classroom and workplace contexts which are, indeed, authentic learning environments.

Keywords: Action/reflection; dialogue; transformative learning

Managing the action/reflection polarity through dialogue: A path to transformative learning

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Laiken, M.