What is an action-learning set?
Small groups of 5-7 people (the set) meet on regular basis to find ways of understanding and solving their role challenges, problems etc. The sessions are structured to give everyone “air time” about their individual issue/challenge. During a participant’s “air time” other members of the set will attentively listen to the participant presenting the issue and will ask questions to help them better understand and begin to resolve the issue themselves. Set meetings are not about solving a problem for someone else, but helping them resolve the issue themselves through effective questioning, reflection and if appropriate the suggestion of options. The challenges/issues should not require specialist knowledge from set members e.g. about a subject discipline.
Between set meetings each participant is charged with the responsibility of “taking action” and learning from the results (hence the name action learning). Sets have a trained facilitator to ensure that participants are asking effective questions, helping each other to resolve issues, take action and learn.
Some benefits of action learning
* It gives participants the opportunity to learn from each other and engage in shared learning*;
* Provides opportunities to network, build strong cross organisational relationships and learn about other areas;
* It allows participants to focus on their problems, areas where they have special interest, or development needs;
* Enables participants to deal with the kind of complex School, leadership, interpersonal and organisational problems which cannot easily be resolved through lectures/seminars or individual study; and
* Supports participants to develop action plans, to change and make changes and improvements in their area of responsibility/School/across the College.
*From experience, set members often report how much they have gained from hearing how peers also face...