Learn Continuously

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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management
Instructor’s Guide
Activity 8: Learn Continuously
Purpose: To build understanding of experiential learning theory and to identify personal
preferences for learning stages and styles. To understand the implications of learning
stages and styles for self development and for improving staff performance.
Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Objectives: Through this activity, the supervisor will:
1. Summarize the stages of the experiential learning cycle and its associated styles.
2. Explain the importance of knowing one’s own learning preferences when fulfilling
the supervisor’s educative role.
Materials: (change below as needed)
 Learner’s Guide
 Kolb Learning Styles Inventory self-scoring booklets
 Flip chart and markers
 Projector
 PowerPoint file
Sequence: (of topics/exercises)
Time
Adult Learner Characteristics
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle
Kolb Learning Style Inventory
Application to Continuous Learning
20 minutes
20 minutes
40 minutes
20 minutes
Chart
Trainer
Demonstration
Slide
Participant’s
Guide
Key Points
Game
Group Activity
Skills Practice
Pair Activity
Handout
V2: 1/2013
Module 1 Activity 8
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management
Instructor’s Guide
Activity 8: Practice # 6 Learn Continuously (Total Time = 1 hr.
10 min.)
Introduction:
In this next activity, we’re going to explore
adult learning. Each of you will assess
yourselves to determine how you best like to
learn. Then, we’ll talk about implications of this
knowledge for your personal growth on the
job, and for fulfilling your educative role as a
supervisor.
Adult Learner Characteristics – 20 minutes
Ask:
Do:
Key Points
V2: 1/2013
To frame your thinking, reflect on and tell me
about some of your recent learning experiences.
 What did you learn?
 How did you learn it?
 What made you ready to learn?
 What barriers did you encounter?
 What did you do about them?
 Point out that their answers gives insight into
the characteristics of adult learners.
 Post the characteristics on an easel sheet
as you review them:
Adult Learners are:

Self Directed

Experienced

Goal Oriented

Relevancy Oriented

Practical
 Self-Directed: They need to be actively
involved in the learning process. They
should be given opportunity to take
responsibility for their own learning.
 Experienced: Adults have accumulated a
foundation of life experiences and
knowledge that may include work-related
activities, family responsibilities, and
previous education. They need to connect
learning to this knowledge/experience base.
 Goal Oriented: Adults know what they want
to achieve in a learning situation.
Module 1 Activity 8
This will be
used again in
Module 2
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management

Instructor’s Guide
Relevancy Oriented: Learning has to be
applicable to their work or other
responsibilities to be of value to them.
Practical: Adults are problem-solvers.
Learning has to be helpful in solving work
problems. They listen to the radio station
WIIFM – What’s in it for me?

Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle - 20 minutes
Say:
“Experience is a critical component of adult
learning. “
The current model of adult experiential learning
is attributed to David Kolb, Professor of
Organizational Behavior in the Weatheread
School of Management, Case Western Reserve
University. It is the culmination of over 17 years
of research and development.
It is characterized by the following working
definition of learning…”
A Definition of Learning

Slide #2
“Learning is the
process whereby
knowledge is
created through the
transformation of
experience.”

David A Kolb,
Experiential Learning
Mod 2 Act 11
2
Adult Learning Cycle
Co n cr e t e
Ex p e r i e n ce
A ct i v e
Ex p e r i m e n t a t i o n
Slide #3
V2: 1/2013
Ob se r v a t i o n
a n d Re f l e ct i o n
A b st r a ct
Co n ce p t u a l i za t i o n
Mod 2 Act 11
3
Module 1 Activity 8
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management


Key Points



Do:






Key Points



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Instructor’s Guide
David Kolb (with Roger Fry) created his
famous model out of four elements: concrete
experience, observation and reflection, the
formation of abstract concepts and active
experimentation, (testing the concepts in
new situations).
It is unlike other one-dimensional theories of
learning that focus only on behavioral or
cognitive processes.
It is a holistic, integrative model that
combines experience, perception, cognition
and behavior.
Let’s review:
Re-draw the adult learning cycle on the
easel pad, one step at a time.
Add the following words under each phase:
“Experiencing and Feeling (encountering
events); Observing and reflecting,
Comparing and Concluding; and Applying
and Adjusting.”
Explain each element of the cycle.
Provide examples of how the learning
process builds on each stage of the cycle.
The learning cycle can begin at any one of
the four points
It should really be approached as a
continuous spiral.
However, the learning process often begins
with a person encountering an event in the
real world – or carrying out a particular
action.
The person then notes and thinks about the
effect(s) or results of the event or action. He
may ask others what their thoughts are
about it.
The third step is seeking understanding of
the general principles or truths that underlie
the experience. The person seeks to
understand the event and its results/effects
by thinking about how it compares to similar
past experiences. How does this fit with
what I already know or believe to be true?
This “generalizing” of results is the ability to
see a connection between actions and
effects over a range of circumstances, and
Module 1 Activity 8
Note:
Immediate or
concrete
experiences
lead to
observations
and
reflections.
These
reflections
are then
assimilated
(absorbed
and
translated)
into abstract
concepts with
implications
for action,
which the
person can
actively test
and
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management


Instructor’s Guide
to identify the general principles that are at
play across all of them.
When the general principles are understood,
the last step is to plan how to apply the
principles in the next, related experience or
event.
While these steps are represented as a
circular movement, the process is an
ongoing spiral. Each time the action is taking
place in a different set of circumstances and
the learner is now able to anticipate the
possible effects of the action.
experiment
with, which in
turn enable
the creation
of new
experiences

Do
Say:
Review the cycle again with a concrete
experience such as learning how to ride a
bicycle; how to use a new cell phone; or how
to use a new software.
 Whichever example you use, tell what’s
happening at each stage of the cycle to
transform the experience into knowledge.
“David Kolb’s model is widely accepted as an
excellent framework for planning, teaching
and learning activities.
Continuing the development of his model,
Kolb isolated four major learning styles. These
styles are grounded in the stages of the
learning cycle that most attracts the learner.
Just as we all have preferences for taking in
and processing information, (visual, auditory,
kinesthetic), we similarly have preferences for
how we learn best.
To understand the diversity of learners in your
unit, it is helpful for you to first understand
your own learning style and how it differs from
the other three. To that end, and to enable us
to have a conversation on each of the styles,
you’ll now take out the Kolb Learning Style
Inventory.”
Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory - 40 minutes

Do:

V2: 1/2013
Have participants take out the Kolb Learning
Style Inventory Booklets.
Have participants remove and complete the
questionnaire.
Module 1 Activity 8
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management

Have participants tally their scores.

Explain that the numbers are associated
with each phase of the experiential learning
cycle. Explain what the distribution of
numbers means.

Ask and discuss their results, i.e. Were there
any surprises? Do they think the results
reflect their actual preferences for one or
more of the stages?

Have participants plot their results on pg. 3
of the booklet to identify their learning style
preference.

Review the information “Identifying your
Preferred Learning Style Type” on pg. 5 of
the booklet. This page compares the shape
of the participants’ “kite” with the phase of
the learning cycle that they prefer.
Each of the four learning styles combine
preferences for two stages of the
Experiential Learning Cycle.
The Diverging style is a preference for
experiencing events and reflecting on them.
Also, hearing what others have to say about
them. The individual with this learning style
will benefit from discussion sessions when
different points of view and/or experiences
are shared.

Explain

Key Points



V2: 1/2013
Instructor’s Guide
The Assimilating style is a preference for
pulling all of the various points of view into a
unified, logical conclusion about the event
under consideration. The person who has
this style likes making sense out of an
experience by coming up with “rules” or
ideas about how things work.
The Converging style is a preference for
taking those logical conclusions or rules
about how stuff works, and making a plan
for future action based up on what was
learned.
The Accommodating style is a preference
for carrying out the plan of action, and
making adjustments to it to fit each new
situation as encountered.
Module 1 Activity 8
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management

Do

Instructor’s Guide
Answer any questions they may have about
the styles.
Turn the conversation to what it means for
performing their educative role with staff.
Application to Continuous Learning – 20 minutes
Ask & Discuss
Key Points

Why is it important for you to understand
your learning style preferences?

As a supervisor, your educative role is to
develop your staff by helping them learn
how to be effective in doing their job.

Creating an atmosphere of continuous
learning focused on the way adults learn
best will enhance the performance of your
workers.

Like you, they will have preferences for how
they learn best.
Pre-post this
question on
an easel
sheet.

If you are unaware of the differing styles,
and unaware of your own style and
preferences, you may mistakenly impose
them upon workers who learn differently
from you.
You may then assume that they are “not getting
it” because of some defect they possess, rather
than because of the way you are insisting they
learn it.
Ask& Discuss
Say
V2: 1/2013

How will understanding your own
learning style preferences help you grow
in performing your job?

In order to “Learn Continuously” you first
have to understand the stages of the
experiential learning cycle, and the learning
styles and preferences associated with it.
Module 1 Activity 8
Pre-post this
question on
an easel
sheet.
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management
Key Points
Instructor’s Guide

Knowing your own preferences will help you
understand why you may not like, or may
struggle with, certain stages of learning. It
also will help you be mindful that your
workers have their own unique preferences,
and you must not impose your preferences
upon them.

Furthermore, while adults have preferences
for some sections of the cycle, ultimately all
phases must be passed through for learning
to take place.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that you
provide opportunities for the various stages
of the cycle to occur – both for yourself, and
with your workers - when taking steps to
build skills.

We will talk more about experiential learning
and designing learning activities to improve
your worker’s performance in Module 2 of
this program.

Say
Trainer Demonstration
Do:
V2: 1/2013
To conclude our discussion on experiential
learning, let’s do a quick, fun exercise that
illustrates the cycle.
Add it up exercise.
 Tell participants you are going to ask them
to add cumulative totals for a column of
whole round numbers.
 Provide an example, saying if the first
number were 10 and the second fifteen, they
would say 25. If the next number were 5,
they would say 30.

Before displaying the problem on easel,
cover up all the numbers except the first
number (1,000) so no one can see the rest
of the numbers.

Tell participants to add up the numbers
cumulatively and to do so aloud and
simultaneously.
Module 1 Activity 8
Pre-print the
following on
an easel pad:
1,000
40
1,000
30
1,000
20
1,000
10
_____
4,100
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Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management

Tell them to start with the first number they
see. After they have said “one thousand”
reveal the next number (40) and encourage
them to add it to the 1000 and give the
answer out loud. They should be able to
continue without any further prompting

Continue revealing one number at a time,
pausing slightly before revealing the last
number (10). Do not reveal the answer yet.
When learners start to say an answer, there
is usually hesitation, and someone will yell
out 5,000. Gasps will begin when they see
the correct answer.
Only a small percentage will call out the
right answer


Say:
Ask:
Say:
You’ve just experienced an event in the
real world – What phase of the learning
cycle is that?

So, what happened during the experience
that so many of you got the answer wrong?

What did you do? What did you think about?
You’ve just spent some time in which stage
of the experiential learning cycle?


V2: 1/2013
Instructor’s Guide
Fold the
bottom up to
cover all but
the first
number
(1,000)
Concrete
Experience
You created a
pattern of
thousands…
(1,000, 2,000
3,000 4,000
5,000) just as
if you were
adding
numbers 1-5.
This process
yields an
unjustified
confidence in
anticipating
the next
response.
Reflective
Observation
You have heard others share their reactions
and thinking about the experience.
You have reflected on your own behavior
and why you got the right or wrong answer.
Module 1 Activity 8
Page 9 of 11
Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management

What did you conclude from this
experience?

Note we often succumb to our security
needs or conditioning and stay with the
same old way of responding.
Most people could total the numbers
correctly if they were presented with all the
data at once.
Instead, I forced you into a patterned
response that is difficult to break.
Relying on patterned responses without
thinking more carefully can lead us astray in
some contexts or circumstances.
Optional: You
can ask
participants to
discuss other
examples of
this behavior
in their lives.

What stage of the learning cycle have we
just now completed?
Abstract
Conceptualization

So what action can we put into place the
next time we encounter a thinking exercise
like this in the future?
What other future circumstances can we
apply that plan of action?
What might the result be?
Provided with the exact same activity, you
would do things differently to get an
accurate result.
You would take more caution to examine
your thinking process as you were adding
the numbers.
And remembering the lessons learned from
this exercise – you may generalize the
learning to new, novel experiences. You
may begin to check your thinking more
carefully before jumping to conclusions.
What stage of the learning cycle will we
be completing the next time we apply our
conclusions to a thinking exercise?
Our focus on understanding and managing
yourself before you can effectively manage
others has covered a number of areas:
transitioning to supervisor; cultural selfawareness; our use of time; and our
preferences for how we learn.
Ask
Say



Ask:
Ask:



Say



Ask:

Transition
V2: 1/2013
Instructor’s Guide
Module 1 Activity 8
Active
Experimentation
Page 10 of 11
Supervisory Practices in Child Welfare
Module 1: Self Management
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
V2: 1/2013
Instructor’s Guide
To be effective as a supervisor in a childserving system, there’s one other area we
must look at in self-management: How we
commit ourselves, our energies and our time
to the mission, vision and values of DCF,
and to the children we serve.
Our next activity will explore these concepts.
Module 1 Activity 8
Page 11 of 11
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