The Power of Reflective Learning Through Peer Learning Groups

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When Learners Reflect, Learning Happens

Reflective learning is when we recollect what we have learned, think deeply about how the learning is going to help us, and apply the knowledge we have gained. Reflective learners assimilate new learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and translate thought into action.

Learners do not just receive information only at the time it is given; they absorb information in many different ways, often after the fact, through reflection. The most powerful learning often happens when [learners] self-monitor, or reflect.

Reflective Learning Benefits are Maximized Through Peer Learning Groups

The benefits of reflective learning are maximized through the Peer Learning Group Model

The Model is a management development program that uses onsite self-facilitated peer learning groups. The groups are designed to tap into the tacit knowledge of managers, who share their challenges and expertise in a specific management topic during two 90-minute sessions spaced a month apart.

The following information identifies the four key benefits of reflective learning and how the Peer Learning Group Model makes the best use of them:

  1. Reflective learning encourages knowledge sharing.

The two sessions of the Peer Learning Group Modelfoster active group discussion among the managers in the peer learning groups. In the first session, the group members explore a specific management topic, reflecting on their experience and hearing others’ experiences. They also learn new techniques they will practice during the 4-week interim between the first and the second session.

They receive micro learning tips and keep a reflective journal during this practice stage. In the second session, group members reflect on their learning experiences. Throughout the different stages of the Model, the managers share knowledge as well as gain knowledge from their peers.

  1. Reflective learning gets learners to think by asking open-ended questions. In the Peer Learning Group Model, the second session is dedicated to reflection. Group members report their experience practicing what they learned in the first session. They answer these questions: (1) Who was involved? (2) When and where did it take place? and (3) What happened? What was the sequence of events?
  2. Reflective learning promotes deep learning experiences. Learning is a continuous process. When learners are encouraged to reflect, this automatically promotes a deep learning experience. A reflective journal can help this occur.

In the Peer Learning Group Model, group members record on a weekly basis what they have done in relation to their practice goal in My Peer Learning Journey. Before the second session, they also reflect on what happened during the practice stage and what they learned from it. Each reflection opportunity takes the members’ learning deeper.

  1. Reflective learning improves learner competencies. Reflective questions help group members understand the consequences of their decisions and, in the process, improve their competency levels. They review the appropriateness of their actions and attitudes and evaluate what changes might be desirable in similar problem-solving situations.

In the Peer Learning Group Model, the group members are asked to reflect on the results of their practice situations by answering these questions: (1) What did you do differently than what you would usually do? (2) How did the outcome compare to previous similar situations? And (3) What can we learn from this?

Reflection and Transfer

Reflection is critical to both learning and transfer of learning back into the workplace. In the Peer Learning Group Model, the group members are asked to generalize how their learning can be extended to other situations. Finally, they report their plans to adjust their approach to these and similar situations in the future. Reflection concludes the active learning experience and ensures that new knowledge becomes a resource for the managers to use.

Do you use reflection activities in your training programs? If so, how do you structure them?

Peers are the best coaches when it comes to sharing experiences and learning from each other. They offer the comfort of learning and sharing among equals.

For more information about peer learning and how to engage your managers in effective reflective learning, please visit http://www.

Deborah Laurel

Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer

The Peer Learning Institute

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