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REVIEWING: WHAT, WHY AND HOW?

10 Benefits of Reviewing | What is Reviewing? | Why Review? | How Review?

"Reviewing skills are transferable to every sector and have been useful even on construction sites along with a cup of strong tea."  Damian Hesdon

10 Benefits of Reviewing
[REVIEWING = PROCESSING = REFLECTION = DEBRIEFING]

  • You are more in touch with learners' perspectives.
  • You are developing their communication skills.
  • You are developing learning skills (yours and theirs).
  • You are adding value to what is already happening.
  • You are making benefits more tangible.
  • You are generating evidence for evaluation.
  • You become more alert and responsive.
  • You help learners clarify and achieve their objectives.
  • You make transfer of learning more likely.
  • LEARNERS ENJOY IT!
See stories for some evidence of this last point!

Some Extra Benefits of Active Reviewing

    Active Reviewing ...
  • is more likely to engage all learning style preferences.
  • creates better integration between talk and action.
  • provides more ways to communicate, learn and develop.
  • produces more dynamic, enriched and focused reviewing.
  • gives better access to intuitive and tacit knowledge.
  • pays more attention to the experience of reviewing.
  • generates more effective learning from experience.
  • allows more realistic testing of future plans.
  • increases the range of strategies for effective transfer.
  • is even more enjoyable!
See Active Reviewing for the related article.

10 Benefits of Reviewing | What is Reviewing? | Why Review? | How Review?

REVIEWING = PROCESSING = REFLECTION = DEBRIEFING

What is reviewing?

Reviewing is learning from experience - or enabling others to do so. Reviewing helps you get more from work, life and recreation - especially if you have the reviewing skills to match your ambitions.

A Definition of Reviewing

Reviewing is any process that helps you to make use of personal experience for your learning and development. These reviewing processes can include:
  • reflecting on experience
  • analysing experience
  • making sense of experience
  • communicating experience
  • reframing experience
  • learning from experience
Alternative terms for reviewing are 'processing', 'debriefing' and 'reflection'.

I use the term 'reviewing' in these two ways:

  • Sense 1: REVIEWING = LEARNING - the process of learning from experience itself (e.g. by keeping a diary, confiding with a friend, or talking with your mentor).
    Sense 1 is about what the learner does.
  • Sense 2: REVIEWING = HELPING OTHERS TO LEARN - the process of facilitating learning from experience for others (e.g. by asking questions, giving feedback, or exploring alternative explanations).
    Sense 2 is about what the facilitator does.
My main interest is in this second sense of 'reviewing', but you will find that many of these 'facilitation' skills (asking questions, giving feedback etc.) are also useful 'learning' skills. A good 'facilitator' uses their own reviewing skills (sense 2) to develop reviewing skills (sense 1) in others. A good facilitator will also use reviewing skills (sense 1) as part of their own continuing professional development. Facilitators should be learning from their own experiences too!

OTHER KINDS OF REVIEWING
You can also 'review' books, films, websites, safety systems, legislation etc. but these kinds of reviewing are not primarily about your own learning and development. They are more about making judgements about the value of other things - even though a good book or a good film (and even a good website!) might prompt you to reflect on your own experience.

MORE REASONS FOR REVIEWING - see next


10 Benefits of Reviewing | What is Reviewing? | Why Review? | How Review?

REVIEWING = PROCESSING = REFLECTION = DEBRIEFING

Why Review?

10 REASONS FOR REVIEWING

  1. ADDING VALUE TO THE EXPERIENCE
    The value gained from experiences depends very much on how experiences are reviewed. Reviewing is an opportunity to add value and meaning to experiences however 'small' or 'large', 'negative' or 'positive' they may be.
  2. GETTING UNSTUCK
    Without reviewing, groups and individuals can get stuck at a particular stage of development. Reviewing provides a range of strategies for moving beyond this stage and for getting the cycles of learning and development turning again.
  3. ACHIEVING OBJECTIVES
    Reviewing can help to clarify, achieve, measure and celebrate objectives.
  4. OPENING NEW PERSPECTIVES
    People may be in the habit of reviewing experiences from their 'normal' perspective. By also 'seeing' an experience from the perspectives of others and by 're-viewing' an experience through a variety of 'windows' (reviewing techniques), people can escape from tunnel (or normal) vision and learn from the bigger picture.
  5. DEVELOPING OBSERVATION AND AWARENESS
    The more involving an experience, the harder it is to observe what is happening. Reviewing can encourage observation, perception and general awareness both during and after experiences.
  6. CARING
    By reviewing activities we show that we care about what people experience, that we value what they have to say, and that we are interested in the progress of each individual's learning and development. When people feel cared for, valued, and respected as individuals they will be better learners!
  7. ENCOURAGING SELF-EXPRESSION
    It is not always easy to talk about experiences. An imaginative and sensitive approach to reviewing can help people to find the medium, situation, symbol or question through which they can most readily express themselves. This is where the expressive and creative arts can be particularly helpful.
  8. USING SUCCESS
    Focusing on success may be a strange experience if it is usually problems that are the focus of attention in reviews. Reviewing can help people to enjoy success, to understand how it happened and to get accustomed to the idea that they can be successful.
  9. PROVIDING SUPPORT
    Reviewing can be a valuable safety net. The reassurance that support will be available in the event of failure encourages people to take risks (of the kind that will be supported). Whether people experience failure or success, the causes can be analysed so that they learn how to avoid failure (or win from failure) and how to achieve success.
  10. EMPOWERING PEOPLE
    Reviewing enhances people's ability to learn from individual or group experiences. Improved learning ability, together with increased confidence, allows people to become more independent and more capable of self-development, and even ... of self-actualisation! ('Self-and-others-actualisation' may be a more suitable aspiration for those who acknowledge the mutually supportive nature of much reviewing.)
EXPERIENCE + REVIEWING = LEARNING + DEVELOPMENT + EMPOWERMENT +

EVEN MORE REASONS FOR REVIEWING!
'10 reasons' is just the beginning ... You will find even more reasons at the beginning and end of my article about active reviewing. See Introduction, Benefits and and Key Points. Yes - there are extra benefits if reviewing is an active process!

HOW TO REVIEW - PRACTICAL TIPS - see next


10 Benefits of Reviewing | What is Reviewing? | Why Review? | How Review?

REVIEWING = PROCESSING = REFLECTION = DEBRIEFING

How Review?

This Active Reviewing website is full of practical tips and articles about reviewing. The short article below is just one 'way in' to the subject. For other 'how to' articles see the articles index or the Active Reviewing Tips Archives or Tools for Change.

Here are some general considerations when planning and preparing for reviewing.
SOME PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS Thinking ahead obviously increases the chances of successful reviewing, but it is always better to have an unplanned or improvised review than to have no review at all. The questions below should not deter you from reviewing. For people in an optimistic frame of mind these questions will remind you of opportunities for reviewing that you may have overlooked.

OVERALL STRATEGY What kind of review would meet the needs of the participants? What preparation would help to produce this kind of review? What kind of experience would lead into this kind of review? What kind of activity would create this kind of experience?

PURPOSE When and how are group aims and objectives decided? When and how are individual aims and objectives decided?

TIMING Immediately after the event? After a short break? Next week? A quick on-the-spot review, followed by a longer one later? After another activity, and review both together? Same duration as the activity? Or shorter? Or longer?

PLACE Where the activity took place? (while experiences are fresh and are the natural topic of conversation, and while it is easier to demonstrate a point or repeat parts of the activity) While walking, travelling or eating? (providing a chance for informal reviewing, especially with 'loud' or 'quiet' individuals who find it difficult to participate in a group setting) The review room? (Ideal surroundings? Comfortable? Air-conditioned? Quiet? No interruption or distraction? Plenty of space and resources?)

CLIMATE How structured? How informal? Easygoing? Businesslike? Free-flowing discussion? Speakeasy? Challenging? Fun? Covering lots of ground quickly or one aspect in depth? Using several reviewing methods or just one?

GROUND RULES No contract or agreement unless problems arise? Rules are expressed positively? (more do's than don'ts) Agreeing principles rather than rules? (more respect for principles?) What is negotiable? What is not negotiable?

PARTICIPATION How will you maintain high levels of involvement for each individual? How will you help those who cannot express themselves readily? (especially as they may have the greatest need to do so)

ENDING How will you decide when to finish? Will this be agreed in advance? Will important points be summarised? How? How will you gauge and attend to emotional needs at the end? How will you help learners to work out realistic follow-up action? How will learners be supported in carrying out follow-up action?

THE ROLE AND STYLE OF REVIEWER Provided that you are consistent and sincere in your general attitude and values, variations in your role and style will allow and encourage participants to try out different roles and styles themselves. The reviewer's role and style can vary considerably according to which methods are chosen.

EMPOWERING PEOPLE Remember that you are helping people to learn from their experience. Encourage them to develop reviewing skills as well as activity skills. Listen to their ideas and you, and they, will have many more methods from which to choose.
adapted from Playback: A Guide to Reviewing Activities


10 Benefits of Reviewing | What is Reviewing? | Why Review? | How Review?

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