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TrainingZONE Glossary: Action Learning


Action Learning

Definition: Although difficult to define clearly, Reg Revans, commonly regarded as 'the father of action learning' puts forward this formula to explain it: learning = questioning + programmed knowledge. What this means is that for real learning to take place, one has to ask searching questions of oneself and others.

Revans was one of a team of research scientists working at the University of Cambridge in the late 1920s, who felt that questioning their own actions - whether they led to success or failure - provided an insight into how to proceed. Revans developed the idea of reflecting on past behaviour into a learning process for groups of people to use to support eachother - known as an Action Learning set.

According to Action Learning, the learners' combined ignorance gives them the power to develop their own thinking, free of having knowledge 'imposed' on them by a 'supposed expert' in a lecture room. Instead, the Action Learning set are free to define their own syllabus and agenda, supporting eachother and sharing their existing knowledge, as well as undertaking further research. This allows the agenda to mirror the learners own activities in the workplace - Action Learning has a strong appeal to managers looking to develop their decision-making or strategic thinking at work.

Action Learning is an interesting concept which challenges much of accepted wisdom about education as we know it.

Feature articles on Action Learning:

Interview of the month: Richard Hale, International Management Centres Association

Self-managed learning: A breakthrough or a cop-out?

Action Learning - the way forward

Resource materials:

Online CPD Business School - enroll on an Action Learning programme.

Providers using Action Learning in their work:

Coming shortly - e-mail us to list your company here.

Related institutes:

Action Learning Institute


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