Continual reflection and evaluation are central to the learning process. Daily participatory reflection methods are thus an important tool for the CEF, helping us detect participants’ satisfaction and dissatisfaction, manage expectations and monitor the gains in knowledge throughout our learning initiatives in real time. We conduct reflection and evaluation at the end of each training day, using different visual aids. Visual cues are like shortcuts to the brain and they importantly contribute to sharing of thoughts and impressions in a fun way.
Such exercises also encourage participants to reflect on their own learning experience and help obtain feedback when impressions are still fresh. Additionally, this allows participants to directly influence what they will learn as they have a say in co-creating the program schedule. We use their comments and ideas to update the activities for the day.
One of the reflective methods that we use to capture thoughts and impressions of a particular training day is the so-called benefit tree. The apples on the tree represent unexpected benefits that made a particular day great, the leaves on the tree indicate the benefits that the participants expected and received, and the leaves that have fallen off the tree relate to the benefits that they expected but did not get. We ask the participants to write down their answers on post-it notes in different colors before leaving the classroom for the day. Next morning the training facilitators summarize the answers and give feedback on how the received comments have been incorporated into the agenda of the new day.
We have come to realize that people enjoy and like giving feedback in such a pre-made visual form. As this activity is typically the last item on the agenda, it is important that it is done in a light-hearted way.
Note: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the CEF.