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Engaging Participants in Reviewing

Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips 12.2 ~ ISSN 1465-8046
A free monthly publication from Reviewing Skills Training

ARTips 12.2   Engaging Participants in Reviewing

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: What does engagement look like?

What does active participation in reviewing look like? What does it take for your participants to get fully engaged in reviewing? How often is each participant fully engaged?

Imagine that each participant draws a graph showing how
their engagement level fluctuates during a reviewing session.
Here are some examples...

Always 100% engaged:

Variable engagement:        /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Occasional brief engagement: /\___/\_____/\_________/\__

No or low engagement: __________________________

It looks simple. But suppose each participant has a different
understanding of what you mean by 'engagement'?

Some may interpret 'engagement' as happiness: they get engaged
more when they are having fun. Others may get more engaged
when there are conflicts and problems, while others turn away
from conflict and see it as a cue for disengaging.

For some participants, 'engagement' might correspond to pulse
rate, But if your review is a relaxing, meditative style of
review, those who are most 'engaged' in the process are probably
those with the lowest pulse rates!

For those who like to be busy doing something, 'engagement' in
reviewing might mean speaking or writing or drawing or acting.
But others may find that they are more engaged in reflection when
they are less 'busy' and have time to make sense of what others
are saying or doing - without feeling rushed.

Perhaps you think of 'engagement' as being fully alert in the
present moment? But for others 'engagement' does not really
happen unless and until there is some significant connection
between the present moment and a past or future event that

So drawing individual engagement lines can be the start of an
interesting discussion about engagement: what is 'engagement' and
what are the conditions that generate full and meaningful
engagement in the reviewing process?

I welcome your views on engagement in learning as well as any
links on the subject that you would like to share with other
readers in the next issue - which is about what facilitators do.

Roger Greenaway

~ 2 ~ ARTICLE: Engaging Participants in Reviewing

Preface/Editorial (above): What does engagement look like?
  1. Why engagement matters
  2. How full is "full engagement"?
  3. Ten tips for achieving optimal levels of active participation
1. Why engagement matters

Engagement matters because without engagement nothing much
happens. For example, I know that I need to engage you in this
article pretty soon if you are going to read much further.

There could be a brilliant section half way through this article
that is new, inspiring and ready to apply to a current issue or
opportunity in your work. If I do not engage you now, you may
never discover that 'buried treasure' further down the page.

That is itself a tactic for creating engagement - dangling a
carrot - even if in this case, the carrot is a bit vague and

"If you stick with it there may be a reward of some kind" is not
a very compelling offer. But in the context of reviewing this is
perhaps the best honest offer you can make. You can talk
(honestly) about how other people have benefited. But you never
know just where a review and reflection process will lead.

For example, personal feedback is one aspect of reviewing that
can be very powerful, positive and practical. But there is no
guarantee that a feedback session (however well managed) will
produce a positive result for each and every person. And there is
a risk that a negative or disappointing experience of feedback
will disengage that person from everything that follows.

To avoid the risk of disengagement, you may decide to play things
safe and keep things light and fun. But you then have the problem
that 'light and fun' may not engage everyone. And 'light and fun'
is a long way from 'deep and meaningful' - which is probably an
aspiration you have if you have read this far.

2. How full is "full engagement"?

If you want to engage people in reviewing, which 'parts' of them
do you want to engage? You will clearly want to engage their
thinking - and perhaps many kinds of thinking including memory,
curiosity, convergent and analytical thinking, divergent and
creative thinking and more. Some of this thinking involves
picturing and visualising and exploring, stepping beyond normal
boundaries, taking fresh perspectives and seeing things from
other points of view.

'Full engagement' implies engaging 'whole persons' in reviewing -
not just their thinking but also their emotions, actions, values,
spirit, etc. Is this a case of the more the better, or do we want
to be selective about which aspects of self we do and don't engage
in the process of learning?

Can we throw ourselves in to being detached?? Reflection implies
a kind of detachment from what is being reflected upon, but
surely this does not diminish the value of mind, body and soul
within the process of reflection itself?

There is a view that activity gets in the way of reflection. And
there is another view that activity supports reflection. So the
following ten tips explore what kinds of activity ENHANCE the
quality of learning, and in what situations activity can be a
DISTRACTION from learning. And tip #10 will help you find out.

3. 10 tips for achieving optimal levels of engagement in reviewing

1. Don't have people sitting or standing for too long. Look out
for signs of discomfort or disengagement and use this as a cue
for moving on.

Example: The early stages of Horseshoe (find your position on the
spectrum and speak with a 'friendly neighbour') usually create
full engagement, but the next stage (essentially a group
discussion while standing) can result in discomfort and
disengagement. Solution: invite everyone to sit down at their
chosen position or (better) ask a related question within the
same topic so that people move and speak with a new neighbour
(rather than spending a long time with just one question).


2. Don't let the reviewing 'activity' rush people so much that they do not have enough time to reflect or participate.

Example: If the seat changing in a Turntable discussion happens
too quickly, some participants may never get a chance to speak.

Solution: You can slow things down. But if you go too too slowly,
the energy goes and the pattern of participation may not even
change. So a better solution is to intervene in a way that gives
everyone time to think and prepare: give each 'side' a minute or
two to work together to prepare what they will each say, before
resuming the whole group Turntable.


3. Involve the 'audience'.

If using methods in which some people are presenting or
performing while others watch and listen, you will no doubt be
wanting the audience to reflect. You can help the audience to
reflect by asking them to form pairs or small groups to discuss
their responses. You can even ask for their response to be shared
in the form of a presentation or performance (for which the
previous performers now become the audience). Frequently
switching roles between audience and performance,
helps to generate full engagement in reflective processes.

4. Switch roles frequently

Example: If using observers within a 'learning buddy' system,
those in the less active observing role will generally disengage
sooner than those involved in the activity they are observing. So
time the switching of roles to suit the less active role.  Extra
benefits of frequent switching (say every 5 minutes) are that it
puts pressure on the observer to be more attentive (engaged),
while also accelerating the feedback cycle and speeding up the
learning process. Pause during the switch so that learning
buddies can talk to each other before moving on.

5. Vary the pace

Example: In Action Replay, you (or a participant) can use the
remote control to fast forward to raise energy levels and then
hit 'slow motion' or 'pause' to focus on a seemingly critical
moment. A 'pause' can be sustained for longer if people need a
rest following an energetic fast forward. In Action Replay, you
are not seeking an 'optimum pace', but you are deliberately
varying the pace to bring calm and focused attention to what seem
to be the most significant moments. But even in pause mode,
engagement tends to be high, especially if the interviewer is
bringing out new and interesting information from the 'players'.

Action Replay:

6. Go for a walk

Why: A paired walk with a partner can create a dynamic that is
conducive to many kinds of reflective conversations. It seems
particularly well suited for loosening thought patterns or
freeing up conversations that have got stuck. Because people tend
to look straight ahead when walking together, the speaker can
more easily choose whether to get absorbed in their own story, or
whether to look at their partner for reassurance or other
reaction. In suitable outdoor locations, it is easier to have
confidential conversations. And regarding the 'optimal level of
activity': pairs tend to automatically find the mutually perfect
pace for walking and talking. Beyond these basic benefits, you
can frame and structure the conversation as much as you like by
providing topics or questions for each section of a walk.

7. Use maps for meaningful journeys

Why: So much of our language about personal and career
development is wrapped up in the metaphor of life as a journey
(or of a project as a journey) that it seems fitting to create a
map on which people can walk their journey (past and future).

Examples: Story Line, Objective Line, Back to the Future, Future
Walking, Metaphor Map. Each of these methods involves
constructing a map on which the learner walks (and talks). In
most cases there is a starting point and a destination. Metaphor
Map is the exception: it is a more complex map on which many
different journeys are possible (past, present or future).
Physically moving along a line or from location to location seems
to result in more focused reflection, perhaps because the map
becomes a stage on which the learner becomes a player.


Objective Line (forerunner of Back to the Future):

Metaphor Map:

8. Use physical scales for reflecting on 'how much?' questions

Why: If you just ask for a show of hands indicating 'how much',
people quickly forget the relative heights of each other's hands.
Whereas if you have a linear scale on the ground, people stand in
their chosen position and everyone's answer remains clearly

Example: Spokes is a two part method which starts with each
individual moving to a point on their own individual scale which
shows how they assess their own performance in answer to the
question asked. People then look around and are encouraged to
invite others to move further along their scale if they feel they
have under-rated their performance (while also providing evidence
to support their invitation). It is called Spokes because each
self-assessment line converges into a central hub (like a wheel
with spokes).


9. Use physical activity that fits the desired mental activity

Examples: If you want to walk through what's happened, then get
walking - don't just talk about it. If you want people to see
something from a different perspective, then ask them to move to a
new position that represents that perspective (as in Turntable).
If people are talking about how they would do something better
'next time', create a quick test of that learning/intention by
letting them try out some key aspect of this better way - perhaps
through a short role play. Whatever the situation that people are
talking about (past or future) bring it to life by inviting them
to enact key aspects. If envisioning ideas through diagrams is
useful then enacting those ideas allows people to see (and even
test) the ideas in action. Facilitate that move from envisioning
to enacting: from seeing the change, to being the change

10. Review the review

Once you recognise that the level of activity in reviewing can
help to engage, focus and intensify the quality of a review, then
be sure to keep a dialogue going with learners about how the
activity is helping or hindering their learning. If this extra
layer of review/evaluation would be intrusive, then put time
aside for getting feedback relating to the optimal level of
activity in review. Through this dialogue learners will become
more wise and responsible for how they learn, and you will become
wiser about the level (and nature) of activity in reflection that
will be optimum at this time with this group in this situation.
[You get bonus marks if you use an active method for getting

And double bonus points if you write in with suggestions for tips
11, 12, 13 etc. for full engagment and active participation to roger@reviewing.co.uk

~ 3 ~ INTERVIEWS: Experiential Learning for Universities

What are the advantages of Experiential Learning for

Universities regularly ignore the research finding that
demonstrates the ineffectiveness of lecturing as a teaching
method. If universities paid more attention to research about
learning (especially to research about adult learning) they would
become much more committed to 'experiential' approaches to
learning - and would become much more successful too.

According to Colin Beard. author of The Experiential Learning Toolkit: "Speech and visual presentations are dominant in lectures and seminars but can discriminate and exclude some people: they represent one type of learning experience, and they can be very linear in format. Speech for example is not good for example to explain spatial-relational complexity, or even a simple shape!"

Experiential learning requires and develops a broader set of
learning skills. Students are exposed to a fuller range of
learning experiences which help them become more versatile and
successful learners.

Experiential learning is also more inclusive and offers something
for everyone: it can serve to stretch gifted students while also
more readily engaging students of all abilities. PhD students
become more employable if given the opportunity to develop
interpersonal skills through experiential learning.

What kind of learners and educators are developed by experiential

Educators become more versatile because experiential learning
gives them a broader range of strategies for facilitating
learning. And students develop a broader set of learning skills
and are more likely to thrive in the workplaces where 'reading
the situation' can matter more than 'reading the book'.

Once teaching skills are considered to be important, experiential
learning offers a wider range of teaching strategies for enabling
student learning. Much depends on how high on the agenda
universities place 'teaching skills' (or student outcomes).

That change is already well under way. Colin Beard writes: "The
spaces and places in which learning takes place are changing due
to a global increase in more experiential methods of learning. In
addition the whole experience of university is becoming
increasingly recognized as being of significance to learning. The
development of knowledge is increasingly recognized as only a
part of the mission of the university student experience."

The text above is an edited version of interviews with Roger
Greenaway and Colin Beard that were recently published at the
ICEL 2011 conference website for the imminent conference in
January 2011. Conference details and full text of interviews:

Colin Beard is the author of
The Power of Experiential Learning (with John Wilson)
http://digbig.com/5bdcaq and
The Experiential Learning Toolkit (2010)

4 ~  ACTIVE LEARNING BOOKSHOP ... keeps growing

The Myth of Generational Differences in the Workplace

"Despite all we've heard recently about the differences between
the four generations in the workplace, a new book flies in the
face of the conventional wisdom on the subject. Jennifer Deal's
research shows that regardless of age, we all want the same
things: respect, trustworthy leaders, and opportunities to grow.
(And nobody likes change.)"

"The conventional wisdom about generational differences in the
workplace is mostly wrong, according to a new book by Jennifer J.
Deal, a research scientist with the Center for Creative

Read more about Deal's findings at http://digbig.com/5bbepb or
buy the book 'Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young
and Old Can Find Common Ground'.
Find Deal's book at amazon USA: http://digbig.com/5bdctc or at
amazon UK: http://digbig.com/5bdctd

Making Learning Happen

Making Learning Happen by Phil Race provides an accessible and
practical discussion of teaching and learning for the post-
compulsory sector of higher and further education. The book is
centred around Phil Race's well-known 'ripples on a pond' model
of learning, which has identified five fundamental factors
underpinning successful learning: 'wanting' to learn; 'needing'
to learn; 'learning by doing'; 'feedback'; and 'digesting -
making sense of what has been learned'. This text will allow
teachers and learners to address these factors head-on in a wide
range of contexts, including large-group teaching, small-group
work, online learning, and in their use of formative feedback to
help their students. Included in the book is a self-analysis
questionnaire, to enable learners to reflect on how these factors
contribute to their own approaches to learning. (Amazon)

Roger's Active Learning Bookshop has raised 1,776 for
Save the Children since January 2006. Thank you for your

Do ALL your Amazon shopping (not just books) via
http://reviewing.co.uk/reviews. You get a good deal and so do
children around the world who need our help. I worked for Save
the Children for 4 years so I know about the value and quality of
their work. Please support Save the Children by buying your books
(or other Amazon goods) via Roger's ACTIVE LEARNING BOOKSHOP at:

~ 5 ~ ARCHIVE: Encouraging Active Participation

Here are 7 strategies to encourage active participation in reviews. This list also serves as a numbered index to examples that you will
find further down the page.

Find out why people are not contributing, what would make it
easier for them to contribute.

Make contributing easier. Use tasks. Give preparation or thinking
time. Encourage the use of visual aids.

Clarify expectations and objectives

Show how experience-based learning works.

Change the dynamics. Create smaller groups. Silence louder group
members. Use temporary rules and gimmicks.

Consult the group. Give responsibility. Ask the group to come up
with solutions. Be open. Use transparent training.

Be radical - do the opposite, change the routine. Be
imaginative - make reviewing at least as appealing as the
activities being reviewed. Above all, ensure that reviews are
alive to learners' needs.

You can find the rest of this article on Encouraging Participation from issue 3.2 at:

The Archives of Active Reviewing Tips include these four articles
about engaging learners:

Getting Involved 1.6

Reviewing for Development 7.6

Reviewing For All 9.2

Turntaking in Group Reviews 11.1

~ 6 ~ EVENTS: Reviewing and Facilitation Skills Training


Upcoming open training workshops are listed at:
These include:
> China Feb 14-17: Shenzhen
> England Mar 5-6: Castleton (at the Outdoor Learning Festival)
> Devon April 15-16: Chulmleigh, Devon
> Denmark April 13: Aarhus
> Scotland May 12: Aviemore
> England Nov 18: Carnforth

See: http://reviewing.co.uk/_news.htm for more details

If you would like to host an open event or arrange for an in-
house customised trainer-training programme please get in touch.
Write to: roger@reviewing.co.uk

Sample training workshops are listed at:


If you are a provider of facilitation training, please send me
the details if you would like the details included in future
issues of Active Reviewing Tips.

10-14th January, 2011
The Energy of a Learning Experience
ICEL Chile 2011
International Consortium for Experiential Learning
How do we ensure that learners get the most out of their learning
experience? And how do we release the powerful energy of deep

3rd February 2011
Making the Most of MTa Materials
Leeds / Bradford, M62 J26
MTa workshops are experiential learning in action. They are a
dynamic mixture of activities, thinking and discussions with
minimal theoretical input. So join us, have some fun and learn!

17-18 March, 2011
Facilitation Fundamentals
Your next opportunity to attend our two day training workshop.
Freshen up your facilitation skills, increase your confidence and
leave with a host of tools and techniques to get the most out of
meetings & events.

27 April - 1 May, 2011
Experiential Educators Europe
15th EEEurope annual conference
Debeli rtic peninsula, Slovenia

Discover more events for experiential educators & trainers at:

~ 7 ~ LINKS: Other perspectives on reviewing and debriefing

Reflection Activities
Short descriptions conveniently grouped for using at the
beginning, middle, and end of a learning process.

Reviewing Exercises and Activities by Stella Collins

Critical Friends: A Process Built on Reflection

Debriefing Sessions: Opportunities for Collaborative Reflection
Mary E. Henry, Montclair State University

The essentials of debriefing in simulation learning: a concept
Nursing Education Perspectives


Reviewing for Different Ages (Part Two) is now at:

Or BETTER STILL you can now read the complete article at:

The next issue sets out to answer the question 'What do
facilitators do?' - especially facilitators of experiential
learning. Most of my writing deliberately focuses on what
learners do, so I am looking forward to providing some balance by
looking more closely at what facilitators do.

Please let me know what you would like to see in a future
issue of Active Reviewing Tips.


As well as the more user-friendly home page at
you will find siginificant updates to ...




including a new article on Chaotic Meetings and the appeal of
chaos (listed near the foot of the page under 'other articles').

~ 10 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
9 Drummond Place Lane STIRLING Scotland UK FK8 2JF
Feedback, recommendations, questions: roger@reviewing.co.uk
phone (UK office hours): +44 1786 450968

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"Your site is a 'goldmine' for lots (and lots) of people.
Thanks from all of us!" Chris Cavert

COPYRIGHT: Roger Greenaway 2010 Reviewing Skills Training

CONTACT: Your active participation is always welcome. Get engaged with your thoughts, comments or questions by writing to: roger@reviewing.co.uk

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