Are We Training Too Fast That We Don’t Allow Learners to Reflect? Workshop Tip – #241

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During a regular training session, the trainer asked the participants in the workshop, “Do you have any questions?” The participants answered, “None for now, but I am sure I will have questions when I get back to work.”

This is an example of what happens in fast, rapid, and instant learning. I find this mentoring style helpful as it can deliver results quickly. However, in our quest for speed, efficiency, and productivity, we tend to close the rooms of reflections in our learners’ and workers’ learning lives. We deprive them of the much needed space to pause and observe.

Hurry Up

Based on the learners’ response, we can sense what they are trying to say – that they need some time to reflect.

“None for now, but I am sure I will have questions when I get back to work.”

Jenny Odell reminds us to allow for reflections,  “… that holds open a contemplative space against the pressures of habit, familiarity, and distractions …”

Apparently, our push for efficiency and speed comes from our very own environment, culture, and tools. Below are just some of the learning platforms we use to ensure that all topics are delivered and covered.

1. Rapid learning authoring tools
2. Instant learning delivery platforms
3. Hyper sensations in multimedia
4. Short cuts, job aids
5. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
6. Chatbots and Learning machines
7. Mobile learning

As much as these tools make virtual training more engaging, as trainers, we should not focus on the content too much that we lose sight of what really matters – such as ensuring that our learners get the time to reflect and understand the discussion.

Impracticality of Reflection

Another important area to cover is how reflection time and space rarely show up in our calculation of learning design.

In fact, we are unconsciously sending a confusing signal that says,

“Take your time, but hurry up.”

This concept is often referred to by designers, trainers and leaders as “the impracticality” of reflections.

“Reflections are hard to measure; tests and assessments are better.”
“Reflections take time; we have a limited seat time.”
“Reflections demand more mentor and coaching interaction; presentations are faster.”

Paying Attention

It is also essential to note that most of the time, there is a cost in everything that we do. Think about how we often complain about the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. In our rush to deliver our content, we leave learners not remembering what they ought to learn.

“Training learners on skills, tasks, and knowledge are insufficient”

James Reason

Reflection permits the learners to find the context, apply and reuse the skills, tasks, and knowledge. Starve for reflection time, learners fail to pay attention.

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice, and because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change, until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

Ronald Lang

Paying Attention to Reflections

Given the points raised on how having no time for reflection hinders learning, let me share numerous methods that will help us allow reflections in our learning design and training deliveries. 

I have selected two approaches that we can further explore and review.

One is Joseph Raelin’s Work-based Learning, which offers some specific actions. He suggests to go through the Three Levels of Reflections.

First Order Learning
Reflecting and questioning prior actions that are proven reliable and may influence the choice to try something different.

Second Order Learning
Learning about concepts that are deepened by looking critically at our own responses and transferring that understanding into other contexts.

Third Order Learning
Realizing that we have previously perceived the world based on biases and not necessarily truth.

I interpret this to mean: Reflecting on one’s experience. We can apply the concepts critically on our own situation and context, while also being aware that our own understanding may be biased. It’s like an interplay between theory and practice.

Another idea is the Jo-Hari Window Exercise, which also helps in making the reflection exercise more practical and easy to implement.

In presenting this concept to learners, add an exercise and questions for reflections.

1. Open
These are the known open areas to oneself and the group. This answers the question:

“What do I know now?”
2. Blind
These are areas known to others, but not apparent to a specific person. This answers the question:

“What do others know that I may not be aware of and can they tell me?”
3. Hidden
These are areas known to others, but not known to a specific person. This answers the question:

“What don’t we know as a group and how do we get to know more of it.”
4. Unknown
These are areas not known to the person or group. This answers the question:

“What is unknown which we may never know or we can anticipate?”

A group discussion or individual self-exercise answering the reflection questions in the Jo-Hari Window and leading the conversation to move from First Order to Third Order Learning, help learners to pay attention to the different aspects of the concept.

“Paying attention leads to awareness. Awareness leads to taking actions.”

Reflection is observing and deep listening. By allowing time and space in our learning and training design and delivery, we help learners grow in a natural way to connect the concepts we want to learn into their real-life life and work context.

We want the learners to say:

“So this is what this content means and this is how I can use it.”

Let us understand more about reflections. In the Workflow Learning Workshop, get to learn how to use 50 Thinking Tools and Templates to add reflections and help learners grow the natural way.


Joseph Raelin (2008), Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace

Jenny Odell (2019), How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

Ray Jimenez (2017), Why a Reflection Pause is Critical to Performance

Tip #123 – Micro-Instant Learning

Tip #142: Why a Reflection Pause is Critical to Performance

Tip #233 – Augmented Reality Is Lighter, Fancier, Easier, and Oozing with Sex Appeal

Tip #68 – Why Reflect? The Role of Reflection in the Learning Process

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”