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Action Learning History

Ravens was the founder of Action Learning. In sass, while working as a doctoral student in astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, he noticed that the fellow student managers were relatively passive in the classroom but would be very much involved in discussions regarding the problems with each other. He found that when they were faced with difficult research questions, they would sit together and ask each other a lot of questions.

Every person in the discussion will be considered of equal importance and no one would be thought of as an expert. In this way, they were able to find out the workable solutions for their problems. Ravens was so taken with this approach and his experience at University of Cambridge that when working with the coal board in sass, he introduced this technique. While facing a problem, he encouraged his managers to sit in a group and ask each other a lot of questions to come up with a solution.

His experiment proved to be successful; now the managers could solve their problems with the help of group and did not need the ‘expert’ to rescue them. Ravens was reluctant to give a definition of action learning, but in a publication in 1982 he stated the following: Action Learning is a meaner of development, intellectual, emotional or physical, that requires its subjects, through responsible involvement in some real, complex and stressful problem, to achieve intended change sufficient to improve his observable behavior henceforth in the problem field.

Learning-by-Doing may be, perhaps, a simpler description of this recess. Subjects learn with and from each other by mutual support, advice and criticism during their attacks upon real problems, intended to be solved in whole or part. The learning achieved is not so much an acquaintance with new factual knowledge nor technical art conveyed by some authority such as an expert or a teacher (although such fresh acquaintance is not ruled out), as it is the more appropriate use, by and reinterpretation, of the subject’s existing knowledge, including his recollections of past lived experiences.

This interpretation is a social process, carried on among two or more learners who, by the apparent incongruity of their exchanges, frequently cause each other to examine afresh many ideas that they would 3 otherwise have continued to take for granted, however false or misconceived. Action learning particularly obliges subjects to become aware of their own value systems, by demanding that the real problems tackled carry some risk of personal failure, so that the subjects can truly help each other to evaluate in what they may genuinely believe.

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