TGI Newsletter Issue #36 Learning CAN be fun. Training SHOULD be fun.
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Creating a Culture of Reflection
About the Author . . .
Sallie Weems is the Program Manager for Continuing Medical Education at CHW-East Valley located in Chandler, Arizona. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing from Phoenix College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Grand Canyon University, and her MBA in Management from Western International University. She is pursuing her doctoral studies in Higher Education and Adult Learning. Sallie has worked in the health care industry for over 20 years, and has managed undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education since 1999. You can contact this author at [email protected].
The use of reflection in the learning environment is a powerful teaching method that often results in a more meaningful and lasting educational experience. Reflection, according to Sobral, "comprises the act of thinking about what one has learned as well as how one learns"(Sobral, 2000, p. 182). Reflecting on past experiences, ideas and beliefs and then applying those reflections when learning about new concepts helps the learner to be more engaged in the process and in turn, results in new knowledge that the learner can then build on. Taylor and Lamoreaux clarify "As adult educators, we are committed to learning that encourages adults to see themselves and the world around them in more complex ways" (Taylor & Lamoreaux, 2008, p. 49). This paper discusses how to incorporate reflective learning as a teaching method, and discusses the benefits and challenges associated with reflective learning. The conclusion encourages teachers to incorporate reflection as part of their educational practice, while considering the appropriate situations that this method is most valuable.

Culture of Reflection
It is important to understand how learning affects the human brain – in order to process new information, the brain searches for patterns from past experiences that can be applied to new learning (Taylor & Lamoreaux, 2008). When an educator incorporates reflection into their lesson plan, it allows the learner to connect their experiences with the new knowledge that is being introduced. The learner, using analogy, is able to absorb and synthesize the material much more efficiently.

Reflection in learning may seem to be an intuitive practice, however, Fiddler and Marienau report that "for many adult students reflection does not happen easily on command" (Fiddler & Marienau, 2008, p. 76). There are many reflective tools used by educators such as journals and blogs, discussions, and reviews of lessons learned. A recommended technique is the 'before-during-after' framework, in which the instructor leads a learning activity by asking the participants' a question such as "What do you believe about this topic?", and then moving on to asking the question "What did you learn?" and finally, closing the learning with the question "In what ways will you use this learning" (Fiddler & Marienau, p. 78)? This technique intersperses the practice of reflection throughout the educational activity, allowing the learner to link their past experiences and knowledge with how they will apply their new learning in the future.

Benefits of Reflective Learning
Much research has been conducted on the use of reflection in education. In a study published in 2007, the researchers asked 41 participants to describe their learning experience with and without the use of reflection. The findings showed that the learning without reflection resulted in 'surface learning', which the learner did not retain beyond the course. When reflection was used as a teaching method, the findings showed that the participants experienced a "deeper learning" with the learners reporting that their "reflection on new learning provided enhanced levels of understanding, confidence and awareness…" (Lowe, Rappolt, Jaglal, & MacDonald, 2007, p. 147).

Another study conducted by Sobral in 2000 measured 103 medical students' appraisal of self-reflection in learning using a questionnaire. In this study, the researchers found a significant correlation between use of self-reflection and a "more positive learning experience". The researchers state that a "higher level of reflection was found to be related to perceived meaningfulness of learning" (Sobral, 2000, p. 185). These studies help to underscore how significant a role reflection plays in providing the learner with a deeper, more lasting and meaningful learning experience.

Challenges of Reflective Learning
As mentioned before, reflection is not a routine process for most learners. Traditional lectures are structured to impart information and for the student to memorize and test on the content. Creating a culture of reflection requires resources such as time, staffing, and a learning environment that is open to innovation (Lowe et al., 2007). And although the learners past experience is the foundation for reflective practice, it can also "block learning", particularly if the new learning is contrary to the learner's beliefs and experiences (Marienau & Reed, 2008). The instructor must be able to gauge the individual learners' responses and be able to react appropriately.

Research on the use of reflective learning shows improved content retention, learner satisfaction with the educational process, and a deeper learning. Although it is impractical to use reflective learning techniques for all educational activities, reflection offers a powerful teaching tool that should be considered by educators in any field. The educator must be mindful of the time required to incorporate reflective learning, and selective about the types of activities that would be most conducive for this teaching method.

Fiddler, M., & Marienau, C. (2008). Developing habits of reflection for meaningful learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 75-85. doi:10-1002/ace.297

Lowe, M., Rappolt, S., Jaglal, S., & MacDonald, G. (2007). The role of reflection in implementing learning from continuing education into practice. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 143-148. doi:10.1002/chp.117

Marienau, C., & Reed, S. C. (2008). Educator as designer: Balancing multiple teaching perspectives in the design of community based learning for adults. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 61-72. doi:10.1002/ace.296

Sobral, D. T. (2000). An appraisal of medical students' reflection-in-learning. Medical Education, 182-187. doi:10.1046/j.1356-2923.200.00473.x

Taylor, K., & Lamoreaux, A. (2008). Teaching with the brain in mind. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 49-58. doi:10.1002/ace.305

Let TGI Customize a Game for You
As many of you who have visited our site ( know, we are constantly coming up with new training games and tools. I talk to many of our customers and know that they often want the game that they purchase to have the look and feel of their own organization. Because our games are built in MS PowerPoint and Excel there is already a fair amount of customization you can do on your own. We thought it might be nice however if we took the ability to customize a game one step further, so we did!

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Famous Quotes
Steven Wright — "Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film."

Henry van Dyke — "Memory is a capricious and arbitrary creature. You never can tell what pebble she will pick up from the shore of life to keep among her treasures, or what inconspicuous flower of the field she will preserve as the symbol of 'thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.' ... And yet I do not doubt that the most Important things are always the best remembered."

Unknown — "To remember anything it must be associated with something you already know."

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Saint Patrick's Day Trivia Questions
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(We apologize for any inconvenience, but we are unable to send the free icebreaker offer in alternative file formats.)

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Tips For Trainers – A Successful Presentation
New TGI Newsletter Feature!
About the Author . . .
Andrew E. Schwartz has been designing, developing and delivering management and leadership programs since 1982. He is founder and CEO of A.E. Schwartz & Associates, a comprehensive management training and leadership development organization offering over 40 skill-based programs and assorted consulting services.

Mr. Schwartz conducts over one hundred programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is an adjunct professor who has taught and lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States. He is also a prolific author having published over 200 articles, dozens of books and hundreds of products. He is often found at conferences with his fast-paced, participatory, practical, succinct, and enjoyable style.

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Enjoy what you are doing, or at least appear to. If you are well-prepared, working with and in front of a group can be fun. If you appear to be enjoying your presentation, your audience will be likely to enjoy it as well.

Control nervousness - by converting it into a positive force. Everyone gets nervous; although it cannot be eliminated, it can be controlled. Uncontrolled nervousness can result in loss of memory, trembling voice, shaking hands, shaking knees, an urge to talk faster and exit. Controlled nervousness can result in clear thinking, physical energy, and even an emotional high.

Be sensitive to the needs of the group. You should genuinely care about each member of the group, and should be able to convey this caring. You can do this by picking up cues from the "body language" of group members and adjusting your presentation accordingly.

Suppress ego when giving a presentation. Subvert your ego to that of the group. We tend to forget at times that our main objective is to deliver information or skills to the group. For example, if we are too nervous, we are more concerned with our own failure than the group's reception of the message. At the other extreme, some people like to hear themselves talk. In those cases, they are usually the only ones who do. An excellent strategy in assisting you to subvert your ego to that of the group is to know your audience members' background, and their reason for being in the training session.

It is the trainer's responsibility to customize the training to be responsive to the needs of those attending. To be a successful trainer you must successfully communicate the information your trainees are there to learn. In addition to communication, four other tools can be used by a trainer to make their presentation more effective - purposeful movement, voice, eye contact, and questions.

Movement should be purposeful. Excessive movement is distracting. A trainer should always stand, and should resist the temptation to lean or sit on objects. Convey enthusiasm and energy as well as vitality by closing the distance between you and your audience to make a specific point. Use gestures in a natural manner; don't bring them in on cue. Be careful not to turn your back on your audience. We communicate as much with our bodies as we do with words. Don't give the group conflicting messages.

Use your voice to your advantage. One of your main tools as a trainer is your voice, and you should be aware of several of its characteristics.
1. Training requires a bit more Volume than your natural speaking voice; speak loud enough to meet the situation. Then, there's pitch; the variance in your voice. Avoid a monotone or patterned pitch, which often is a result of memorization and sounds unnatural.
2. Use Inflection, which is the varying emphasis on spoken words. When used properly, inflection can place emphasis on key points. Used improperly or carelessly, it can drastically change the meaning of a statement.
3. Vary your rate of Delivery. People listen faster than they talk. Increase your speed to maintain interest, but watch for cues from the audience to tell you when to do this. Attempt to vary your rate for interest, and make use of pauses.
4. Perhaps the most important factor about your voice is clarity, or how clearly your words reach the audience. Always speak as clearly as possible.

A tool to make your presentation more effective is eye contact. According to a study done by Richard Hildreth, speakers who were rated sincere looked at the audience 64% of the time, while those rated insincere looked at the audience only 21% of the time. Look individuals directly in the eye; when a glance has been returned, move to the next person. Like purposeful movement, eye contact should be done naturally. It should never be used to intimidate.

We use questions for four basic reasons: to get feedback, to stimulate discussion, to provoke thought, and to maintain interest. Mishandling questions can destroy an effective talk. Always prepare for questions by knowing both your topic and the audience, and anticipate areas for potential questions. When answering questions be concerned with the whole group. Never let one person dominate; repeat or rephrase questions for the entire group. If you do not know an answer, admit it, but do try to find the answer or advise the person who asked the question where the answer might be found. An excellent technique for involving the group is encouraging others in the group to respond to questions.

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