Reflection is the key to learning. Fortunately, learners don’t have to escape to the woods to be alone like Thoreau to find time for reflection. Reflection can happen anywhere, at anytime. 

Everyone experiences reflection. For example, when reading a book, people will often suddenly find themselves no longer reading but rather thinking about things invoked by the reading. Whenever you pause to think about, digest, integrate and make connections (both conscious and subconscious) with what you’ve learned, you’re engaged in reflection.

Why You Need to Include Reflection in Training Solutions

Reflection requires time to process new data without distractions. In an ideal environment, the learner controls his or her pace and is not instructed to move on while they are reflecting.  The amount of time needed for reflection varies based on a variety of factors, but we do know this; if there is no room for reflection, learners will have little to no time to develop insight. Insight is, of course, an essential part of critical thinking and deep understanding.

Without this step, any training is shallow and temporary—retained for only a few hours or days—a poor learning result.  Without reflection there is little hope of any real learning, skill adoption or shift in performance.

Of course, you can't force someone to reflect. And everyone will reflect in his or her own way, on his or her own time. But you can teach the importance of reflection and its role in insight generation and permanent memory creation. 

At sageCrowd, we created a variety of Reflection Exercises that are meant to encourage the learner to go back and digest the information they've just seen and to personalize it. A Reflection Exercise gets the user out of a passive role (i.e., just reading or watching a video) and into an active role where reflection can take place. 

What to do next:

If you're looking to improve enterprise performance, you may recognize the inadequacies of traditional training methods (while at the same time, still using them).

But there are steps you can take to improve the way you deliver training and increase the likelihood that learners will remember and successfully apply new skills.

You can start by downloading sageCrowd's whitepaper The Brain's Natural Learning Cycles: Implications for Skill Development.

(Psst: If you're not a training professional and simply an individual looking to improve, all these steps apply to your own learning process, too!)

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