Reflection is perhaps one of the most important practices we can engage in as learners but most of us aren’t taking the time to do it. It is also a key element that distinguishes the best learners and leaders—so why aren’t more of us doing it?
In this special 25th episode of the Leading Learning Podcast, Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele discuss the topic of reflection as it relates to effective learning and leadership. They also model this practice by taking some time to reflect on their own experience with the podcast and talk about why they started it, how it’s benefited them, and where they are 25 episodes later.
Listen to the Show
Read the Show Notes
[00:18] –A preview of what will be covered in this episode where co-hosts Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele discuss the topic of reflection since this is the 25th episode in the Leading Learning podcast series.
[00:48] – A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA. The event is designed specifically to help professionals in the business of continuing education and professional development find new and better ways to engage learners and create lasting impact through the effective use of technology.
The Power of Reflection
[02:05] – Jeff expresses what an important milestone this is as the 25th episode of the podcast series.
He begins the discussion about reflection as something that isn’t often practiced as often as it should be.
He also references the research of Donald Schön and says that the ability to reflect both on action and in action is a key element that distinguishes both the best learners and the best leaders.
[03:52] – Jeff and Celisa continue to discuss the power of reflection and talk about having an action bias. Celisa references an example she read that relates the importance of in action reflection in soccer to highlight the importance of this.
Reflection and Learning
[05:05] – Jeff and Celisa talk about how reflection ties into what we know about the science of learning.
When you engage in reflection and do it well you will often be engaged in the process of effortful retrieval and we know that effort and effortful retrieval are essential to effective learning.
Another aspect of reflection called elaboration connects new knowledge/experiences to existing knowledge/experiences.
There’s also spaced learning—the idea that to acquire knowledge and skills effectively, it’s best not to do it all at once. And reflection implies a certain amount of spacing.
What the Research Says
[08:03] – There has also been a lot of empirical evidence around reflection.
It showed that getting a certain amount of knowledge/experience and then taking time to reflect is much more effective than getting that knowledge/experience and then continuing to try and acquire more (without stopping to reflect).
The study also showed that only a small percentage (18%) opted to engage in reflection before continuing with their task. These people outperformed those who either chose to stop or continue without reflection later on.
So the study showed that reflection is more useful than experience, at a point.
[11:05] – The concept of deliberate practice is also mentioned and that, in its original form, can be helpful because it allows you to get feedback (either from somebody else or yourself) so that you can incorporate it and adjust your practice accordingly.
Another finding from the study is referenced that ties reflection to self-efficacy.
It showed that the more someone engages in reflection, the more confident they become, which makes them more likely to do better.
Jeff adds that self-efficacy is also tied to motivation even though this isn’t explicitly mentioned in the study.
[13:07] – Celisa makes the point that empirical studies are great but reflection has a common sense component to it. She says that in order to prepare for a task/job, a certain amount of preparation needs to go into that but we often don’t take that same time after the fact and it makes sense that we should.
Reflecting on the Leading Learning Podcast
[14:27] – Jeff and Celisa switch gears to reflect about the podcast since this is the 25th episode in the series.
Jeff shares that when they started the podcast, it was initially created as a lead-up to the symposium with only a vague idea of where it would go. It provided them with a way to engage with faculty in advance of the symposium, provide some advance content for attendees, and potentially create a “social learning object”.
Celisa further explains that the podcast was helpful because they had both an internal and external focus/purpose, sharing that they used it for marketing and to help get attendees, and themselves, familiar with some of the people who would be there (faculty, speakers, etc.).
[17:47] – A discussion about how the podcast was used as a way to engage with members in their community (i.e. Jay Donahue, Shari Rager, Josh Goldman) and go in depth to talk about some of their issues and opportunities and to share best practices/lessons learned.
Jeff shares that they haven’t felt there has been enough conversation around learning in the association world with those in C-level, leadership roles. He says they wanted to use the podcast as a way to address this and create opportunities for dialogue.
[20:04] – Celisa talks about the podcast as a learning tool because it helps them become more fluent in what’s going on in the market space while also allowing them to create a body of work related to learning.
Jeff adds that these podcasts force them to stretch themselves because they have to be able to speak fluently about various topics and engage with industry leaders and he talks about the value for personal growth in doing this (and things like blogging as well).
[22:33] – Jeff shares that the podcast is a marketing tool as well and explains that the lines between learning, education, and marketing are increasingly blurry.
He explains that putting the podcast into the mix has forced them to be more reflective about their content strategy. Jeff and Celisa agree that, in general, it has been a great learning experience so far.
The point is made that we can all stand to become more conscious of reflecting in our own lives. Jeff and Celisa talk about what we can do to provide opportunities for this.
Celisa shares how they built in time for synthesis sessions and white space at the Leading Learning Symposium to encourage time for reflection. They discuss the importance of modeling these types of best practices for learners.
Jeff challenges listeners to set aside some time to reflect.
[28:31]: Celisa brings up microlearning and how it would be valuable if it was presented as condensing time for learning in order to free up time for things like reflection.
[29:46] – Wrap-Up
A reminder to check out the upcoming Leading Learning event, Learning • Technology • Design (LTD) to be held May 18-19, 2016 in Arlington, VA.
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[32:11] – Sign off