ACTIVE Reviewing Tips
for dynamic experiential learning


Takeaways for Future Learning

Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips ~ ISSN 1465-8046

is no longer published but you can view more back issues in the ARCHIVES

For Roger's blog and other writings please see the Guide to Active Reviewing

Your participants will gain extra value if you provide takeaways that help them learn from future experiences.

ARTips 14.4 Takeaways for Future Learning


If participants leave experiential learning events with greater powers of reflection and better ways of doing it, that is surely one of the best 'takeaways' we can offer.

Improved learning ability is often seen as a welcome but accidental bonus - beyond the stated purpose of a training event. But what if we highlight this valuable takeaway as a deliberate outcome:

"As a result of taking part in this training programme you will acquire skills and tools to help you learn and develop from future experiences".

If you feel inclined to offer this most valuable of takeaways, then the tips in the following article may help you to do so. And if they do, please celebrate by writing to ...

Roger Greenaway

PS If you like this issue, please tell others.
If you can suggest improvements please tell me.
If you tweet, you can now follow @roger_review on Twitter
Up to index


You facilitate review and reflection and your priority is to help participants learn while you are working with them. If they happen to take away reflective learning practices which they use for their own future learning and development - then that is an accidental bonus.

If this roughly describes you, then please read on. You will discover ways in which you can add significant value for your participants - with little extra cost or effort.

'Takeaways' = reviewing processes that participants can re-use later.
  1. Adopting a standard reviewing routine
  2. Creating an individualised reviewing routine
  3. Finding a learning buddy
  4. Using storylines
  5. Keeping a diary
  6. Adopting a standard problem-solving routine


After Action Review (AAR) is a simple reviewing method based on a sequence of 4 questions:

    1. What happened?
    2. What was supposed to happen?
    3. Why the difference?
    4. What did/can I/we learn from this?

The origin of AAR is attributed to the US Army. This process can be carried out immediately in the back of a truck on the way back from an 'action', or it can happen a bit later in the relative calm of a meeting room. The process has been widely adopted. For example, it plays an integral part in BP's learning systems. The attraction of the method is that it is simple, it is easy to remember and it can be applied in many situations. One ex-army enthusiast is so addicted to the method that he feels he is missing something if he does not follow every 'action' with an AAR. This addiction has followed him into retirement: every shopping trip is followed by an AAR!

* More on AAR ...see my review of 'Learning to Fly' at:


The main problem when asking a standard set of questions is that it is unlikely to suit all situations. (For example, AAR questions 2 and 3 do not apply if the action or experience had no clear purpose.) Also, a learning routine is far more likely to be adopted and applied if it plays to a person's strengths and preferences as a learner.

The 4F (now 5F) reviewing system that I have developed is more flexible than a routine such as AAR. 5F is not a standard set of questions. Instead it highlights broad areas that are explored through questions or through other reviewing techniques:

1. FACTS (or First Assumptions) eg What happened? What appeared to be going on? What did you notice? What did you not notice?

2. FEELINGS (and Intuition) eg What were you experiencing? What were you sensing? What range of feelings did you go through?

3. FINDINGS eg Why ...? How did ...? How much ...? How well ...? What does this mean? What is its significance?

4. FUTURES eg What are the possibilities - for action or further enquiry? What learning do you want to take forward? What next ... decide? explore? practise? plan? create?

5. FREEDOM eg What else? What if? Think differently. Do the unexpected.

Although I usually view 5F mainly as a guide for facilitators, it could also be a useful takeaway that could help participants learn from future experiences - even when shopping!

* More on 4F/5F ... http://reviewing.co.uk/learning-cycle


Paired discussions and other paired reflective activities can provide excellent opportunities for learning during an experience-based programme.

- In some paired discussions both participants have the same role and are simply learning together.

- In other paired discussions the roles are clearly defined with one person reflecting on their experience while the other has the role of a coach or facilitator.

- Another format is where the roles alternate, perhaps spending 5 minutes in one role before switching over.

There are at least 3 ways in which co-learning can become a takeaway:

1. If two learning buddies have found that their learning partnership has worked particularly well, then they make arrangements to have regular 'learning meetings' or 'learning phone calls' after the event. The takeaway is your learning buddy!

2. If a participant found that co-learning with a partner worked well for them (but is not keen on option 1) you can encourage them to set up a learning buddy arrangement with someone they already know. Ideally such a relationship is a mutually beneficial one in which both people expect to learn from the process. The takeaway could be guidance on how to set up such a partnership.

3. An alternative is to make the previous option more informal - perhaps because the participant does not want to suddenly make an informal relationship a more formal one. The takeaway would be a commitment to seek out opportunities for mutual learning.

* More on 'Reviewing for Two' (several options described):


Storylines are graphs. Participants are often familiar with the uses of graphs in the worlds of finance and science. But once people discover that graphs can be used in the worlds of emotions, achievements, and the self- monitoring of good and bad habits, then charting becomes a personal development aid with limitless variations.

The takeaway is a visual reviewing tool that is quick to produce by hand or on a computer. [Let me know if you know of an app for charting your life on a smart phone!] Storylines are a valuable aid to personal reflection. They also work well in combination with Takeaway 3 (Learning Buddies).

For example, when I was first learning to facilitate review sessions I would record my own ups and downs by sketching a storyline. The chart often became the focus of a review with a colleague after the session. Yes - a review of a review!

* More at: http://reviewing.co.uk/articles/ropes.htm#STORYLINES


Maybe your participants already use learning diaries? Amongst the benefits are that learning diaries are highly personalised souvenirs - and can become greatly valued for that reason. I encourage participants to write only on the left hand pages so that the right hand pages are reserved for another layer of reviewing when re-reading their notes at a later time. The right hand page can be for:
- summarising
- or for recording belated 'aha!' moments
- or for converting learning into action points

Some diary pages can be for comments from others. Some pages can be for reviewing with others. Other pages can be designed for showing to stakeholders after the programme.

Whether or not the learning diary is kept private, is shared with a learning buddy or shown to a boss - it is in every case a valuable takeaway.

The other takeaway is maintaining the habit of keeping a learning diary - easily done if there are blank pages to fill, and especially if some of the pages have ready-made review questions to encourage further reflection at intervals after the programme.

* Learning Diaries:

* Learning Journal (TM) with Self-Facilitated Learning (TM)


Some people regularly get caught up in problems, react without thinking and end up in greater trouble. It is helpful for such people to learn and practise a problem-solving routine that they can apply to future problems. Instead of getting stuck or making matters worse, applying their problem-solving skills might just give them enough of a solution to stay clear from further trouble.

I first learned of this approach at the Airborne Initiative - a programme for working with young men with a record of offending. Each young person would leave the programme with the problem- solving routine listed on a small card the size of a business card.

What follows is my own adaptation of the process which Airborne themselves adapted from the Cognitive Centre Foundation Programme.
  • Recognise you have a Problem.
  • What is your Goal?
  • Obstacles - what is getting in the way (internal & external)
  • Resources - what resources do you have (internal & external)
  • Gather Information
  • Generate Options & Consequences
  • Select Option
  • Take Action
  • Review and Modify
  • Persevere
  • Who else can help you with any of these steps?
* More info: Cognitive Centre Foundation Programme


Each of the above takeaways is a tool or method or routine that can help your participants learn from future experiences. By investing time and resources in such takeaways you are helping your participants to become lifelong experiential learners.

Why not make learning skills explicit in all of your programmes - and offer the best takeaways in the world!

I welcome your ideas about any 'takeaways' you would like to add to this list.

Roger Greenaway
Up to index

~ 3 ~ RESOURCES: Labels Limit Learning

In this 20 minute video (filmed for TED talks) James Nottingham explains how labels get in the way of learning whether the labels are positive or negative. Drawing on Carol Dweck's research he argues that labelling children stifles learning, whereas labelling their actions allows children to learn from what they do. For example, labelling children as bright, clever, good, bad, stupid, racist, or naughty limits what they can learn, but labelling their actions in these ways creates opportunites for learning (such as why their action attracted that label)*.

James Nottingham also presents the case for a focus on progress rather than on attainment. He introduces the topic with this equation from Eccles (2000):
If expectation is zero, then application is zero (even if perceived value is high). A low level of attainment (eg relative to the test scores of others) creates low expectations, whereas an expectation of progress will increase application. For example, an individual's progress can be represented in an individualised progress chart. Each chart can have a different starting point for each child. James points out how one-off tests do not show progress, whereas a pre-test followed by time for learning and then a (post-)test readily produces a progress score. He also recommends the value of providing learning support in advance (eg previewing the next day's lessons) rather than always seeing learning support as 'catch-up'. Preview makes it easier for all pupils take part in the subsequent lesson - following which 'catch-up' may not be needed.

* Review by Roger Greenaway: James's opening anecdote about his wine-tasting performance neatly captures the essence of what follows. Labelling action or behaviour is an improvement on labelling people, but there are more sophisticated ways of responding to 'good' and 'bad' behaviour, such as considering the impact and consequences as well as considering the reasons behind the actions. There is also the question of who does the labelling (or describing) - the person, their peers or the teacher. James could have given some indication of these (and other) ways of responding to 'good' and 'bad' behaviour especially given the title of his talk: 'Labels Limit Learning'. The reasons why negative labelling limits learning are reasonably self-evident, so I would have really appreciated more insights into the problems associated with positive labelling. The video is well worth viewing, but I was left wanting more depth and detail - especially about how positive labelling limits learning. Maybe there will be a follow-up?


Up to index


Out this month ...

Roots and Wings: A History of Outdoor Education and Outdoor Learning in the UK
Ken C. Ogilvie (2012)

Publisher's description: This extensively researched book establishes clear foundations for a deeper understanding of the roots of experienced-based learning and personal development conducted out-of doors.

Roots and Wings supports the case for early connection with nature in each child’s life, and an on-going healthy and environmentally sustainable life style for all. It points to many activities that have sought to offset the social trends of restricting areas of recreation for children and removing risk from personal development.

It also provides a fascinating and illuminating account of how ideas garnered from experience were championed and developed within the competing pulls of centralism and localism in both government and the voluntary sector - how this led to differing approaches in the UK’s various national jurisdictions - and how safety, quality and accountability were developed without stifling innovation and constructive risk-taking.


Thanks to your purchases, Roger's Active Learning Bookshop
has now raised £2,550 for Save the Children

Do ALL your Amazon shopping (not just books) via
<http://reviewing.co.uk/reviews> and not only do YOU get a good
deal, so do CHILDREN around the world who need our help.

Thank you :-)

Up to index


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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

6th November 2012
UFA Helping my child to learn
Train to lead a 10 hour programme to introduce parents and carers
to a range of learning to learn strategies that would support
their children to become more effective, successful learners and
to overcome barriers to learning.

9th November 2012
METALOG® training tools Workshop
METALOG® training tools are multifaceted interaction activities
and learning projects for indoor and outdoor use

12-14th November 2012
Certificate in Training and Development
ITOL, London
"the essential skills for you to excel in the training room"

13th November 2012
Making the Most of MTa Materials
MTa workshops are examples of experiential learning in action.
They are a dynamic mixture of activities, thinking and
discussions with minimal theoretical input.

18-22 November 2012
Coaching Leader Programme
Brathay, Ambleside

21st November 2012
Whole Education's 3rd Annual Conference
Becoming world class: what we can learn, what we can do
Kings Cross, London

26-28th November 2012
Certificate in Training and Development
ITOL, Liverpool
"the essential skills for you to excel in the training room"

27-29th November 2012
Facilitator Masterclass
Hunton Park, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire
Kaizen Training

7th December 2012
METALOG® training tools Workshop
METALOG® training tools are multifaceted interaction activities
and learning projects for indoor and outdoor use

10th December 2012
Transfer of Learning
Jeff Gold, Professor of Organization Learning at Leeds Business
Venue: Leeds Metropolitan University
1. research on transfer of learning
2. a model to help increase the ROI of learning events
3. how the model can be implemented
Details: lucy@azesta.co.uk

11th December 2012
Making the Most of MTa Materials
London Heathrow
MTa workshops are examples of experiential learning in action.
They are a dynamic mixture of activities, thinking and
discussions with minimal theoretical input.

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>

Or view the sample training workshops at

Up to index

~ 6 ~ 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

ARCHIVES: <http://reviewing.co.uk/ezine1/art001.htm>

The Guide to Active Reviewing is at
<a href="http://reviewing.co.uk/">http://reviewing.co.uk</a>

FROM GUESTBOOK: "I like the way you look at everything and then
return to what is simple, effective and memorable."

COPYRIGHT: Roger Greenaway 2012 Reviewing Skills Training

Each month Active Reviewing Tips brings you:

ARCHIVES    CONTENTS of this issue

 INDEX to reviewing.co.uk - resources for dynamic learning
 How to find your way around reviewing.co.uk
Copyright © Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training, who promotes ACTIVE LEARNING via