View the


ACTIVE Reviewing Tips
for dynamic experiential learning

How to
for free

Visible Reflection Techniques

Active Reviewing Tips 6.1   Visible Reflection Techniques
  1. EDITOR: Why 'Active' Reviewing?
  2. TIPS ARTICLE: Visible Reflection Techniques   [Easy Print Version]
  3. TIPPLES: Leadership and Teamwork Questions
  4. LINKS: Brain Connections
  5. NEWS: Interview and Workshops
  6. SITE UPDATE: What's new at http://reviewing.co.uk
  7. QUOTE: Appreciative Facilitation

~ 1 ~ EDITOR:  Why 'active' reviewing?
Each issue of this newsletter is a combination of news and tips.
Headline news: new dates for my next open workshop in the UK:
Wednesday 23rd - Thursday 24th April, 2003.
Details are in section 5 below.
Some time has passed since the last issue of Active Reviewing
Tips. Thank you for your patience - and welcome to many new
readers. I hope that readers, old and new, will appreciate this
(re)introduction to ''why active reviewing''.
If you attend one of my reviewing skills workshops you will be
spending most of your time as an active participant - actively
learning about active learning and how to facilitate learning
from experience. You might be walking through a model that
I have drawn on the floor, or searching for a picture or object
that focuses your thoughts, or drawing a graph showing the
emotional profile of a learning experience, or climbing steps as
you achieve higher levels of communication. You might be
directing the group to re-enact a significant moment, then
pausing the action to interview people about what was really
happening at the time. You could be walking into the future to
experience your vision and to learn from what you experience on
your journey.
Why don't I just let people sit down and talk?
Well occasionally I do. All-talk reviews can work well, but often
they don't. There are many alternative and complementary methods
that are more engaging, more lively, more versatile and that
produce better results. Most trainers I work with are already
committed to 'learning by doing' or 'experiential learning', but
when review time comes along they drift from active learning
into a more traditional (and more passive) mode.
I have never understood why 'activity' and 'review' got separated
in the first place. I see experiential learning as a living,
dynamic and holistic approach to learning. This is emphasised by
most writers on the subject of experiential learning - from John
Dewey to John Heron.
From a practical point of view, active reviewing methods provide
useful tools for sharpening the process of learning from
Active reviewing methods can help to:
- improve the quality of communication for giver and receiver
- engage more of the whole brain
- speed up processes that discussion slows down
- intensify processes that deserve close attention
- bring talk and action together (improving the quality of both)
- make the learning process more memorable
- make the learning outcomes more transferable
Active reviewing methods arise from the belief that experience of
the review is as important as the experience of the activity.
Participants need to be as 'switched on' in the review as they
are in the activity. If review time becomes 'switching off' time,
something has gone wrong.
Instead of thinking of interesting activities feeding energy into
reviews, try thinking of interesting reviews feeding energy into
activities. For the transfer of learning within and beyond a
course, this is the critical gap that has to be crossed - from
the review to the next activity. Having a review immediately
before the next activity helps learners to bridge this gap - if,
in the first place, you have a review that is dynamic enough to
generate energy, interest, curiosity, commitment and a growing
appetite for learning and development.
A more complete answer to the question 'Why Active Reviewing?'
can be found in my article at
The 'tips' article below describes four active reviewing
techniques that make things more visible.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 2 ~ TIPS ARTICLE: Visible Reflection Techniques
''What did you learn?'' is rarely a good way to start a review.
Even though some learning may have happened already, further
learning often depends on more information being available. All
of the techniques described in this article make information
available by making it more visible.
'Reflection' is an internal thinking process. Another meaning of
'reflection' is what you see in a mirror. Let's explore what can
happen by re-combining these two ideas. Here are some
're-viewing' techniques that use visual reflection to stimulate
thoughtful reflection.
2.1 Q JUMPING: makes contribution levels visible.
Recommended use: for encouraging more balanced participation.
2.2 MOVING MARKERS: makes the quality of the group process
Recommended use: for monitoring group process while working on a
2.3 CHANGING PLACES: seeing yourself as others see you.
Recommended use: for developing empathy and providing feedback.
2.4 REPLAY: noticing what was missed first time around.
Recommended use: for easing conflict and for building trust and
Taken together, these 'visual' reviewing techniques will
accelerate the development of a group and lay important building
blocks for effective teamwork or further learning.
You will notice the words 'anything can happen' within each
description. It is a gentle reminder that reviewing (especially
active reviewing) is a dynamic process that turns out differently
on every occasion. To make these techniques work well, explain
the basic concept and purpose and get it going with minimal
briefing. Be ready to adjust or abandon the technique depending
on how it is working out. Anything can happen!

2.1 Q JUMPING: making contribution levels visible
Recommended use: for encouraging more balanced participation.
A frequent problem in reviewing (or in any group discussion) is
that some people do all the talking while others say very little.
'Q Jumping' provides a simple rule that allows everyone to see a
continually refreshed picture of the latest pattern of
contribution in a group.
This is the rule: ''Anyone who speaks for more than 10 seconds or
for more than one sentence, jumps to the head of the Q''.
So that everyone in the 'Q' can see each other easily, everyone
sits in a circle as for a 'normal' group discussion. Mark a break
in the Q by making a space in the circle. Place a rope (or
similar object) across the space so that it looks like the
squiggly bit of the capital letter Q. The rope signifies that the
rule is in force. The person on the right of the rope is at the
'head' of the Q. That is all you need to know, but some examples
might be helpful...
* If a person sitting opposite the squiggle speaks for more than
10 seconds, they walk across to the head of the Q. The former
head of the Q and everyone who was sitting between the speaker
and the former head of the Q moves back (anticlockwise) one place
so that the new head of the Q has a seat. Half the group are not
affected and stay in their seats.
* If a person sitting next to the head of the Q speaks for more
than 10 seconds, they simply swap places with the head of the Q.
* If the person at the back end of the Q speaks for more than 10
seconds, everyone moves one place in an anticlockwise direction.
Anything can happen. In essence, it is just a simple wordless way
of reflecting back the pattern of contribution in a group
discussion. It automatically brings the pattern to everyone's
attention. If the amount of movement is disrupting the discussion
you can extend the time that people can speak without moving to
(say) 20 seconds, or suspend the rule. You can join in as a
facilitator at the head of the Q, and perhaps have a secret goal
of trying to get to the other end of the Q (if, for example, you
happen to be trying to develop a less dominant facilitation
Other methods for encouraging participation are described in a
previous issue of Active Reviewing Tips...
Encouraging Participation in Reviews

2.2 MOVING MARKERS: makes the quality of the group process
Recommended use: for monitoring group process while working on a
This is a simple visual method for all participants to provide
continuous feedback about the quality of the group process. The
perfect situation for this method is for the group to be seated
around a large round table. The method exaggerates the typical
body language through which participants show enthusiasm (leaning
forwards) or lack of interest (leaning backwards).
Each participant has a playing card which they hold face down on
the table in front of them. Each person can move their own card
on an imaginary straight line between the edge of the table in
front of them and the centre of the table. [Replace the cards
with soft toy animals or other objects if you want to add a touch
of pizzazz.] The group now need a task that they can achieve
while seated round the table (e.g. a lateral thinking exercise, the
planning stage of a longer project, a decision about how to spend
the next hour of the programme, a discussion about how they will
transfer their learning after the course). Throughout the task
each person indicates any fluctuations in their support for the
group process by the position of their marker.
Anything can happen. Some of the things I like about this method
- People holding their markers near the edge of the table tend to
get invited to have their say about the process.
- People who assist the process receive instant positive feedback
as markers slide towards the centre.
- It makes the level of support for the group process
continuously and highly visible.
- This micro-attention to process as it happens can highlight
significant moments that would be unlikely to feature in a review
after the exercise.
A problem with this method is that people can use their markers
to show their level of agreement with what someone is saying
rather than to comment on the quality of the group process. If
this should happen, this problem becomes an opportunity to
clarify what group process is and is not.
Other ways of reviewing during activities are described in
previous issues of Active Reviewing Tips...

2.3 CHANGING PLACES: seeing yourself as others see you.
Recommended use: for developing empathy and providing feedback.
One way of seeing yourself is simply watching a video. It may be
true that a camera does not lie, but a camera does not tell the
whole truth. You may not see yourself as others see you. Other
participants may have very different interpretations of why you
are behaving in certain ways.
'Changing Places' is a reviewing method that allows people to see
how others see them. It is a combination of several techniques in
one: a feedback exercise, a guessing game, an empathy exercise,
fish bowl and a buddy system. The basic concept is quite simple
but the method is only suitable for groups where trust is well
established and where individuals are open to personal feedback.
First set up a buddy system in which pairs (A and B) take it in
turns to be doers and observers. If there is an uneven number,
the person left on their own can get useful experience as a
co-facilitator. A task is set up. For the first few minutes A's
are doers and B's observers. After 5 or 10 minutes, call a review
break. Those who have just been observers (the B's) sit in a
circle, facing inwards, with their buddy (A) sat behind them in
an outer circle. The inner circle (of B's) can now talk while the
outer circle (of A's) remains silent. B's pretend that they are
the person they were observing. They participate in the review as
if they are their buddy.
The facilitator encourages all of the inner circle to take part -
if necessary by directing questions to particular individuals, or
by conducting rounds, or by asking everyone to show their
feelings at particular moments in the exercise being reviewed
(e.g. by asking each person to use hand height as a feelings
scale). The facilitator may also invite questions from
What everyone now wants to know is how well the inner circle
represented the feelings and views of those in the outer circle.
Ask A's to assess how well B's did on a scale of 0-10, and ask
B's to guess the mark that their buddy will give them. When
everyone is ready, ask buddies to face each other and reveal
their scores (using hand height or finger count).
Anything can happen. People are often surprised how well they
have been represented, but some guesses can be wildly wrong.
After a minute or two for buddies to talk things through, return
to the two concentric circles and give all A's a chance to
correct any misrepresentations that they would like to. These
'misrepresentations' may include important information (about how
they are misperceived by their buddy) that would not available if
watching a video replay.
'Changing Places' has many benefits. I use it mainly as an
exercise for helping people to see how they are seen by others.
Seeing someone else trying to be you provides an intuitive kind
of feedback that can be valuable information however right or
wrong it might be. For the inner circle it can be a very
demanding empathy exercise.
Such exercises help people to see how they are perceived by
others, while also helping people to appreciate something about
what it is like to be in the shoes of others. It develops many
useful skills and the increased interpersonal understanding
accelerates group or team development.
Yes, it is more ambitious than simply asking ''What went well?''
and ''What didn't go well?'' and ''How can you improve?''
'Changing Places' provides a very different perspective on what's
going on. It helps to expose and correct false assumptions and to
develop mutual understanding. A useful, but different, route for
improving teamwork.

2.4 REPLAY: noticing what was missed first time around
Recommended use: for easing conflict and for building trust and
I have introduced many people to 'no ball' games. A game of
'foot', 'volley' or 'base' can be a whole lot more fun without
the 'ball'. When such a strange activity is followed by video
playback without a camera, people are no longer surprised.
Whatever next? Reviewing without a facilitator? Of course! (But
that's another story.)
The 'video referee' will become increasingly common in sports.
The referee does not see everything. Neither do all the players.
Neither do the video cameras. But by replaying the action from
different angles it is possible to get a more complete
understanding of what really happened.
Using action replay is another way of making visible what was not
noticed first time round. Critical moments during the activity
are reconstructed and re-enacted (usually through mime rather
than by doing the real activity again). People do not simply
'see' the activity again (or from a different angle), they also
have the chance to stop the action and interview people to
discover what was going on in their hearts or minds at the time.
This brings out new information that was not apparent at the
time. This new information can be critical, and really does
result in a 're-view' of the incident, and leads to people
revising what they had originally learned.
Here are some examples of video replay without a video:
1) In a replay of a trust exercise in which each team was tempted
to cheat, both teams were asked to enact a replay showing their
moments of temptation. The watching team was allowed to pause the
replay at any point to ask questions about how people were
thinking or feeling at the time. As it happened, one team did
cheat and the other didn't, but both were knife-edge decisions.
Without the benefit of action replay, all kinds of guilt and
resentment would have continued simmering, ready to fuel further
mistrust. Action replay revealed a more complete picture and
brought out a level of honesty that helped both teams to overcome
their differences - partly by realising there wasn't a lot of
difference between them after all.
2) In a replay of an incident where a group had not confronted an
individual for his selfish behaviour, the group discovered what
had been going on inside his mind. This was not an instant
solution, but the start of a healing process that brought the
individual back into the group and which allowed the group to
function as a team again.
3) In a replay of a 'group building' exercise in which the group
split into three parts, each of the three parts showed their own
side of the story through action replay. Again this was the start
of a healing process.
4) A group succeeded in achieving an independent task that was
not witnessed by the facilitator. The facilitator requested an
action replay and was able to watch the recorded highlights. This
allowed the facilitator an opportunity to come up with suitable
questions and activities for continuing the review.
5) After completing a group exercise while blindfolded, the
participants removed their blindfolds and were walked through
what had happened by the team of observers. With this new
information, the participants were able to take a more informed
part in the review that followed.
These five examples illustrate just some of the possibilities.
When re-constructing the past, anything can happen! It can bring
out new information that will surprise you as well as the

Happy Charts (with ropes)
Happy Charts (with paper)
When trainers talk or write about 'visual aids' they generally
refer to aids that will help trainers to communicate information
to learners. In this article I have described some of the
reviewing methods that put 'visual aids' in the hands of
learners. These visible reflection techniques help participants
communicate more effectively with each other. Used wisely, and
with imagination, they accelerate and enhance the process of
learning from experience. I think this is a more empowering use
of 'visual aids'. What do you think? If you are attracted to the
idea, try creating a mind map that connects the ideas in this
article visually.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 3 ~ TIPPLES: Leadership and Teamwork Questions
It surprises many people that you can use reviewing right at the
beginning of a course. Brief Encounters is an ice-breaker that
involves sharing experiences related to the purpose of a
programme. Brief Encounters (just) qualifies as 'active'
reviewing because everyone is walking around and frequently
changing partners. For a day about 'success' I created a series
of questions on that theme. For example:
Brief Encounter Questions about SUCCESS
* What is one of the most mouth-watering meals you have ever
* As a consumer, what's the most successful complaint you have
* When have you most deserved a prize for your negotiation
* If you were awarded a medal for bravery, what would it be for?
* What is one of the best things about your job?
* Can you describe a success you are proud of outside work?
For more questions about success (and a full description of Brief
Encounters) see
But if your training event has a different theme, you may want to
generate questions that have a special focus. Here are some
starting ideas for questions about leadership and teamwork.
Brief Encounter Questions about LEADERSHIP
* Who was you hero as a kid and why?
* How did you develop your leadership skills?
* When have you willingly followed someone else’s leadership and
* What positive feedback have you received about your leadership
* Have you ever provided leadership in a crisis?
* Have you ever provided leadership to create more harmony in a
* What kind of leadership do you respond to well?
* What kind of leadership demotivates you?
* Have you ever been in a group that didn’t need a leader?
* In what situations do you like being a leader?
* Who are the people who have most influenced your decisions in
life? What kind of leadership were they providing?
* Have you ever witnessed a good leader transform a situation (in
life or on film or TV)? How did they do it?
* What kind of feedback has helped you to be a better leader?
* As a leader, do you pay most attention to getting the task
done, keeping the team motivated or looking after individual
Brief Encounter Questions about TEAMWORK
* Describe an example of good teamwork that has really inspired
you e.g. in sport, music, business, entertainment, customer
service, emergency services, community action.
* How did you learn to work in a team?
* If you have ever been part of a high performing team, what was
it like and why did it work so well?
* What is one of your best/proudest teamwork moments.
* Have you experienced or seen good teamwork within a family?
* Have you ever experienced or seen a team that picks itself up
from near disaster? How did this happen?
* What makes you a good member of team? Why would you be picked?
* What is it about teams that brings out the best in people and
demonstrates that the whole is more than the sum of the parts?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 4 ~ LINKS: Brain Connections
Have you noticed how trainers are increasingly referring to brain
research that underpins their particular approach to training? It
could be reassuring to know this, even if the best test is
whether a particular training approach actually works. An
authoritative website (and newsletter) for checking the
connections between brain science and learning is:
Kaizen's website covers similar topics but gives more emphasis to
the practical applications for trainers. For a taster see Larry
Reynolds' article in which he wonders why more trainers do not
adopt accelerated learning methods.
James Neill's portal for outdoor education research has moved to:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 5 ~ NEWS: Interview and Workshops
Listen to a 30 minute audio interview with Roger Greenaway about
reviewing teamwork activities - for which you need the latest
version of Windows Media Player, a comfy chair and a steaming mug
of coffee.
Thank you Tom Heck of http://www.teachmeteamwork.com for making the phone call, asking the questions and enthusing me about this project.

Reviewing Skills and Tools for Trainers
A 2 day trainer-training workshop with Roger Greenaway
at Log Heights, Ripley Castle, Yorkshire, England
Wednesday 23rd - Thursday 24th April 2003
'Reviewing Skills and Tools for Trainers' is about improving the
quality of the whole training experience - both during training
exercises and during reviews. You will learn how to maintain full
involvement throughout the learning process - ensuring that
learners are alert, motivated and curious. You will learn a
number of methods for keeping the connections alive between doing
and thinking - rather than just alternating between these two
modes of learning. Whatever the purpose of your training, a
skilled and confident approach to reviewing will help to generate
a highly productive climate for learning.
Topics include:
- how to use reviewing to accelerate group development
- how to fire up the process of experiential learning
- how to raise the quality of communication within a group
- how to keep reviews alive and moving,
- how to deal with resistances to learning.
- how to achieve specific objectives
- how to develop your skills in active reviewing
You will be able to try out a stimulating range of reviewing
methods using natural objects, visual aids, stories, replays and
other techniques from creative arts, drama, counselling and group
work. This workshop will extend your toolkit and develop your
skills in using these versatile reviewing tools.
Log Heights has since evolved into
- same castle, same Shirley, more twist

Most years I provide open workshops (from 2-5 days) in other
countries. This year I provided a 2 day event in the Netherlands,
and have another planned for the autumn in Romania. Last year I
provided open workshops in Denmark, Hong Kong and Namibia. If you
or your organisation are interested in hosting an open workshop
(or a tailor-made event) please get in touch to learn more about
how this can happen.
As a special incentive for getting in touch, I am offering
discounts for all workshops in 2003 if you make your initial
enquiry before the end of April. It sometimes pays to act without
reflecting too much!
email: roger@reviewing.co.uk
phone (UK office hours): +44 1786 450968

Annual meeting of experiential educators and trainers - workshops
with AEE members and friends
May 2-5, 2003
Mennorode, Elspeet, Netherlands
Here is an excellent event that is hosted in a different European
country each year: Belgium, Switzerland, England, Germany, Italy,
Portugal and now the Netherlands. I am offering a workshop on
'Visual Voices' - you can find details of this and many other
workshops at:
Enquiries: jac@rongen.com
Check the website at
for details of this event and past events.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 6 ~ SITE UPDATE: What's new at http://reviewing.co.uk
There have been several additions to Roger's Active Learning
Bookshop. New titles include:
- Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping
- No Contest
- Nonviolent Communication
- How to Make Meetings Work
- How to Make Collaboration Work
- Achieving Results Through Action Learning
- Path of Least Resistance for Managers: Designing Organizations
to Succeed
- Cooperation, Competition: Theory and Research
- The Artist's Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your
Creative Self
- Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development
All of the most recent additions are listed at:
Coming soon at http://reviewing.co.uk
- a major new section on 'learning styles' - including a critique
of instruments that label and stereotype.
- an article about facilitation in outdoor education
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ 7 ~ QUOTE: Images in our mind's eye
''There is a growing realization among professionals from diverse
disciplines that each of us plays a significant role in creating
the reality in which we live, work, and play. Our beliefs, our
attitude, where we place our attention, our thoughts, and the
language we use determine in large part the images that we carry
in our mind's eye ... and these images are compelling.''
Cherri Torres
in The Appreciative Facilitator (2001) Mobile Team Challenge

I hope you have enoyed this issue about visible reviewing techniques. For more ideas search this site for 'visual' or go to the section on reviewing with pictures. Many visual reviewing methods are also included in a later issue of Active Reviewing Tips on Reviewing with Different Ages

Each month Active Reviewing Tips brings you:
View the Active Reviewing Tips ARCHIVES |FREE Subscription |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