ACTIVE Reviewing Tips
for dynamic experiential learning


Encouraging Participation

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

Active Reviewing Tips 3.2   Encouraging Participation
  1. INTRO: Encouraging Participation
  2. TIPS: Encouraging Participation
  3. LINKS: Save People and Rainforests
  4. NEWS: Open Training Workshops

Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning - http://reviewing.co.uk

Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips 3.2 ~ ISSN 1465-8046
This free opt-in publication from Reviewing Skills Training
reaches 770 enlightened people a bit like you :-)
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Please forward to friends who share your interests.
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~ 1 ~ INTRO: Encouraging Participation
~ 2 ~ TIPS: Encouraging Participation
~ 3 ~ LINKS: Save People and Trees
~ 4 ~ NEWS: Open Training Workshops
~ 6 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

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~ ~ A C T I V E . R E V I E W I N G . T I P S
~ ~ the free monthly newsletter associated with the
~ ~ 'GUIDE TO ACTIVE REVIEWING' http://reviewing.co.uk
~ ~ Editor: Roger Greenaway roger@reviewing.co.uk
~ ~ Vol. 3.2
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How to encourage participation in reviews

Despite your best efforts to get everyone fully involved in the
learning process, some people still choose to stay on the
sidelines. So how can you get everyone eagerly taking part?

Here are some tips to encourage participation in reviews. If you
have any to add, please let me know  - and I'll include them in
the next issue. Send your email to: roger@reviewing.co.uk

Please note that these tips assume that participants are
reasonably happy about taking part in the ''doing/experiencing''
part of experience-based learning, but that in your group there
are a few people who switch off during reviews and who contribute
very little.

Here are 7 strategies to encourage 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.

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Find out why people are not participating
This is an obvious place to start, but it can be a 'Catch 22' if
people remain quiet when you ask them why they are quiet. By
putting people on the spot you also risk making them feel even
more uncomfortable - and even more reluctant to get involved. So
find a way of finding out - perhaps asking them on their own or
via someone who knows them well. You are not guaranteed (and may
not want to hear) the whole truth and a full explanation, but you
should learn enough to improve participation levels.

Find out what would make it easier for people to participate
Review the initial experiences of the group by asking people to
complete the following sentence beginnings in paired interviews.
If you use these as rounds in the whole group, be sure to allow

What's good about the atmosphere in this group is ...
It is difficult to speak up in this group when ...
This group is good at ...
This group is not good at ...
I would be happier in this group if ...
I would take part more in reviews if ...
I would learn more in this group if ...
I would benefit more from reviews if ...

Sequencing - yours or theirs?
Sometimes people will find it difficult to contribute because the
sequencing of your questions or review tasks is out of tune with
the stage that they have reached (however sound the theory on
which your sequencing is based!) . Find out if you are going too
fast, too slow or are heading off in a different direction. Allow
for individual variation in learners - who have each had
different experiences and who each learn in different ways at
different depths and different speeds. Encourage diversity in
learning however convenient it might be to streamline the process
and attempt to find one pace and style for all.

Make contributing easy.

Use tasks
If people like doing tasks but not reviews, then set up reviews
as tasks for groups or sub-groups to carry out independently e.g.
creating cartoons, maps, graphs, collages, songs, news reports
about what they have done. This may not take learners all the way
round the learning cycle, but high levels of participation are
likely both during and after such tasks.

Ask direct questions to individuals
but give some warning to the quieter people so that they have
time to prepare a response.

Give people questions to think about
Give out questionnaires to help individuals (or pairs) to think
things through in preparation for a group review. Questions can
be the same for everyone, or can be personalised, random or
self-chosen by everyone from a group-generated list of questions.

Give people time to think
In ''guided reflection'' people lie down while you talk through
the events and prompt their thoughts with questions (that they
answer silently inside their heads). After 5 or 10 minutes finish
by focusing people's thoughts on what they will say to the
group - or to individuals in the group - e.g. thanks,
appreciates, apologies, regrets, congratulations. Well judged
''guided reflection'' can greatly improve the quality and
quantity of communication within a group.

Encourage alternative ways of communicating
Encourage the use of pictures and objects as visual aids - to
help people to focus and express their thoughts and feelings.
Visual aids are also useful 'props' for those who lack

Clarify mutual expectations (about the processes)

Create a climate in which it is easier for everyone to
contribute. Some 'ground rules' may help you achieve this. Try to
get 'rules' expressed positively - as DOs rather than as DON'Ts.
If 'rules' sounds too much like school, find a more positive (and
accurate) title such as 'Mutual Expectations' or 'What we expect
from each other' or 'How we can encourage each other'.

Body Image
To encourage everyone to contribute to this process of clarifying
expectations, place a big sheet of paper on the floor - big
enough for a volunteer to lie on. Ask everyone to help draw the
body outline. Then give everyone a felt pen and ask them to write
down what they want to experience during the course within the
body, and experiences they don't want outside the body. (This is
about processes rather than about goals.) Then ask everyone to
step back and say what they can do to help prevent the 'unwanted'
experiences (outside the body) from happening and what they can
do to help generate the 'wanted' experiences - those written
inside the body.

Clarify personal objectives
Understanding people's motivation towards the course as a whole
will help you (and them) to see where reviewing fits in. Will
reviewing help them establish or clarify objectives, or help them
achieve their objectives? Or both? Rather than coming up with a
standard explanation of why reviewing is important, you can
explain how reviewing (of a particular kind) can help them
achieve their particular objectives.

Show how experience-based learning works.

People may expect to learn simply by taking part in activities
and just listening in reviews. People may not fully appreciate
why their participation in reviews is so important - especially
if this is a new way of learning for them. You can urge people
with slogans like ''The more you put in the more you get out.''
But it is far more convincing (and easier to understand) if you
can involve group members in an active and credible demonstration
of how experience-based learning works.
[Remember the scenario - everyone IS taking part in activities
but some are taking a back seat in reviews.]

Blindfolds and Observers
One of the most effective (and fun) ways of demonstrating the
value of reviewing is to set up a team of observers watching a
group carry out a task blindfolded. At review time, the people
who were blindfolded are keen to find out what was happening that
they didn't see. Feedback can be one-to-one if half the group are
observers. Then ask people to swap roles (i.e. the blindfolded
are now observers and vice versa) and continue with the task or
set up a new one. After a second review everyone will have been
asking questions and giving answers. To put the icing on the cake
explain that all the exercises on your course are in a sense
'blindfold' projects - i.e. no-one ever sees the full picture
(even when not blindfolded), and that by sharing thoughts and
observations we can all see and learn a lot more.

Time-Outs or Process Breaks
Another good way of explaining how experience-based learning
works is to create a half-time break in a physical
problem-solving exercise. Explain that this time-out is like
half-time in a game of two halves, and that this break makes it
easier for everyone to think about possible changes in strategy
before going in to the second half. For some people reviewing at
half-time will make a lot more sense than having a review when
the game is over. When this is the case, encourage frequent
'process breaks' rather than saving everything for a
'post-mortem' at the end (when it is too late to make changes).
Encourage groups to take time out from working on the task and to
take a look at how they are working together as a group and how
individuals are feeling about the part they are playing.

Observation Walk
One of my favourite introductions to how experience-based
learning works is to send a group on a short independent walk
that I call 'Observation Project'. The walk ends at a meeting
place that is inspirational and makes people want to open their
eyes wide and look around (e.g. a scenic viewpoint on top of a
building or a hill, or a place beside some amazing architecture).
The review at this point is a series of rounds (passing allowed -
as always) in which people report one observation at a time. If
prompting is needed I ask people to comment on what they observed
about the environment (near and far), about each other, and about
themselves. I then point out how experience-based learning (in
groups) depends on the sharing of observations about things,
others and self. The more you open your eyes and your mouths the
more you will learn.

Change the dynamics

Create smaller groups
The size of the group can be critical. People tend to speak up
more the smaller the group - depending (of course) on the mix of
people in each small group.

Create smaller groups of like-minded people
First ask a question that can be answered on a scale and define
the two ends of the scale. For example: ''If you think the
quality of teamwork was brilliant stand at this end of the line.
If you think teamwork was hopeless stand at the other end. Or
find a point in between that fits your point of view.'' Before
anyone moves, ask them to choose the point they are going to.
Once in position on the line, people find themselves standing
close to people with a similar opinion. They have found
like-minded people on this issue! Divide people into 3's and give
them 5 minutes to prepare to report back to the whole group on
why they chose their particular position.

Silence the louder group members
If you are not careful you will end up embarrassing the quieter
members and upsetting the louder ones. So how you set up these
'gimmicks' is important. Say something like this: ''I believe
that everyone in this group will get much more value if the
quieter members participate more. Do you share this belief?''
Discuss any issues that arise in response, then (if appropriate)
say: ''Sharing a similar belief is a good start. I have a few
gimmicks that will help get you there more quickly. I'd like you
to give them a try. But please speak up if you feel these
gimmicks are getting in the way.''

Ask the group to form up in a line with the most frequent
contributor at one end and the least frequent contributor at the
other end. Compliment the two or three people at each end ...
''the most frequent contributors - I/we thank you for giving so
much. The least frequent contributors - I/we thank you for your
consideration - thinking carefully before speaking up. The ones
in the middle - for getting it just right.'' Ask people to sit
down in this new order, and in the discussion that follows always
give those who normally contribute least the first opportunity to
speak. Explain that this is not ''pressure'', but is an
''opportunity'' to have your say before everyone else takes the
words out of your mouth. Check with the group from time to time
if they are happy with this new seating arrangement (and rule) or
would prefer to change.

The following gimmicks are described in Playback: Conch or
Talking Stick, Matchsticks, Biscuits, Ball of Wool, Sociometric
Diagrams, Question and Answer Only, Summarise First

Consult the group

When you face a problem as a trainer such as trying to encourage
more contribution in a group, there is rarely much to be gained
from being 'secretive' about the problem you see and how you are
trying to solve it. If the group don't know what you are up to,
this may slow down the building of trust between you and the
group. Also the problem you see is probably one that they are
also keen to solve. So explain the problem as you see it and how
you are thinking of tackling it - or why you are unsure about how
to proceed. Encourage comment. Ask for ideas. Enlist their
support. You may find plenty of ideas and support coming from
group members. Your toolkit is not the only resource you can draw
on. I call this 'transparent training'. It instantly gives you a
much bigger toolkit, but use it too much and the group may think
that yours is empty!

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 ...

Meeting Needs
''What's in it for me?'' Despite your best efforts, some
individuals may find that what you are offering during the
reviewing stage is neither meeting their needs nor helping them
towards their goals. It often happens that a lot of thought is
put into designing EXERCISES that will stimulate and engage
learners. But how much thought do you put into designing REVIEWS
that will stimulate and engage learners? It is not enough to
expect that the energies aroused during activities will keep
things alive during the reviewing process. This clearly does
happen on occasion, but if you find that involvement and
contribution levels drop off during a review, then maybe it's
time to put as much care into the design of your reviews. So what
are these needs that we should try to meet in both activities and
reviews? In Playback I have compiled a list of developmental
needs from a number of developmental theories. I also give brief
examples of how reviewing techniques can help to meet these
needs. The needs listed are:


If you can offer all of these in your reviews, there will be very
few people who could possibly resist taking part! You will find
the relevant extract from Playback on the following web page:

Since writing this article I have revisited this topic many times
 - each time from a different perspective. These articles are
brought together
in Active Reviewing Tips 12.2
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    Castlebar (Co. Mayo, Ireland)
    XCL (Mid England)
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You will find dates, titles, links and contact details below


IRELAND  Saturday 11th March 2000

Activities, Games, Adventures, Young People & 'Active Reviewing'
with Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

Castlebar College, County Mayo

For more information contact Stephen Hannon


NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND (April, May and June 2000)

A series of 3 x 1 day courses for trainers using the outdoors
with Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

Venue for all 3 events: Log Heights, Ripley Castle

20th April: reviewing at the BEGINNING of a training course
24th May: reviewing in the MIDDLE of a training course
20th June: reviewing near the END of a training course

Log Heights has since evolved into
- same castle, same Shirley, more twist


MIDLANDS, ENGLAND 10-11th May 2000

How to Transfer Learning and give your training lasting impact
with Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training

Venue: XCL, Reaseheath College, Crewe. 10-11th May

For more information contact Dig Woodvine at


DENMARK 10-11th April 2000

Working with young people in the outdoors
''Pædagogik & Friluftsliv''

Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
with Thomas Hojland and Henrik Kongsbak, Resonans

Gilwellhytterne - Houens Odde, 10-11th April


For more information contact Thomas Hojland at


DENMARK  12-13th April 2000

Outdoor Management Development

Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
with Thomas Hojland and Henrik Kongsbak, Resonans

Gilwellhytterne - Houens Odde, 12-13th April


For more information: contact Thomas Hojland at



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Future Issues will include: how to use reviewing methods to
develop teamwork skills, leadership skills, learning skills and
transfer skills.

If you would like to request particular reviewing
topics or contribute to them please let me know at

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

 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