Action Reflection Learning – Deepening Experiential Learning 


Action reflection learning is a process that combines action learning with reflective practice. It involves taking action to address real-life challenges, reflecting on the experiences and outcomes, and using those insights to inform future actions and learning. This approach fosters continuous improvement, personal growth, and organizational development.


Action reflection learning is widely used in various settings, including:
  • Leadership training
  • Team building and collaboration
  • Organizational change initiatives
It can be applied in various domains, such as business, education, healthcare, and community development. It provides the benefit of working on real change and impact while maintaining a simultaneous focus on learning and development. 


Action reflection learning is a cyclical process that integrates action learning and reflective practice. It involves the following steps:
  1. Identify the Problem or Challenge: Individuals or teams identify a real-life problem or challenge they want to address.
  2. Plan and Take Action: They develop an action plan and implement it, taking concrete steps to address the problem or challenge.
  3. Observe and Reflect: Participants observe the outcomes of their actions and engage in structured reflection. They analyze what worked well, what didn't, and why.
  4. Conceptualize and Generalize: Based on their reflections, participants identify patterns, insights, and lessons learned that can be applied to similar situations or contexts.
  5. Refine and Plan Next Steps: Participants use their newfound knowledge and insights to refine their approach and plan future actions, continuing the cycle of action and reflection.
Throughout the process, participants engage in individual and group reflection, sharing perspectives, questioning assumptions, and exploring alternative viewpoints. This reflective practice helps them develop a deeper understanding of the problem, their actions, and the underlying factors influencing the outcomes.

Sample Activity

  1. Identify the Problem: Present the group with a real-life problem or challenge faced by your organization or community. Encourage them to gather relevant data and information about the problem through research, interviews, and observations.
  2. Brainstorm Solutions: Facilitate a brainstorming session where the group explores potential solutions to the problem. Encourage diverse perspectives and creative thinking.
  3. Develop an Action Plan: Guide the group in selecting one or more solutions and developing a concrete action plan. Assign roles, responsibilities, and timelines for implementation.
  4. Take Action: Allow the group members to implement the action plan over a specified period, encouraging them to document their experiences and observations.
  5. Reflect and Debrief: Conduct a structured reflection session where participants share their experiences, observations, and outcomes from implementing the action plan. Use prompts and questions to facilitate deeper reflection, such as: What worked well, and what didn't work as expected?
  6. Conceptualize and Generalize: Encourage the group to identify patterns, themes, and broader lessons learned from their reflections. Discuss how these insights could be applied to similar problems or contexts.
  7. Refine and Plan Next Steps: Based on learnings from the reflection session, guide the group in refining their approach and developing a new action plan to address the problem more effectively.
  8. Repeat the Cycle: Implement the new action plan, followed by another round of observation, reflection, and refinement, continuing the cycle of action reflection learning.
Throughout the activity, encourage open communication, active listening, and constructive feedback among participants. Provide a safe and supportive environment for honest reflection and learning.  


Isabel Rimanoczy investigated the methodology of Action Reflection Learning (ARL) and codified it in 2004.

Target Audience:

  • Facilitators
  • Educators
  • Coaches
  • Leaders
  • Managers

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