|Author:||Philip Boxer & Richard Boot|
|Where Published:||Beck J. & Cox C. (eds) “Advances in Management Education”, Wiley.|
Reflective Learning is a method of facilitating learning from experience. So why not stick to the more commonly used term ‘experiential learning’? There are a number of reasons for this and in this paper we hope that by describing what we mean by reflective learning those reasons will become clearer. A useful starting point might be to state one of our basic assumptions, which is that experience alone is not learning and does not guarantee that learning will take place. It is no use providing people with ‘experiences’ either in the classroom or in the workplace in the hope that they will learn. Whether or not they learn will depend on what they ‘do’ with that experience. This fact is recognised in the old cliché that there is a difference between the man who has lived one year thirty times and the man who has lived thirty years once.
For us the major aspect of learning is not change in overt behaviour as a result of experience, but the process of discovering new, personal meanings in that experience. Those meanings may lead to new forms of personal action and so be observable in terms of changed behaviour, but equally they may not. The stage in the cycle that influences the quality of learning from experience (i.e. the extent to which it leads to new meaning) is reflection the process of thinking back on, reworking, or searching for meanings in experience.