Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

Trainer Insights

The Relationship between Reflection and Results

“Don’t just do something. Sit there.”

When it comes to training that changes behavior, it turns out that reflection is a necessary ingredient.

A 2015 Harvard Business Review article explains that reflection increases engagement, and it reiterates what we’ve known for a long time: reflection has a big impact on transference of skills learned in training.

A group of researchers looked at how reflection affects learning transference, both in controlled studies and in the real world.

One real-world study took place at a call center in Bangalore, India. The researchers studied three groups of employees who were given the same technical training, but each with one variable.

Control group: Employees in this group continued working at the end of each training day.

Reflection group: Employees in this group spent the last 15 minutes of certain training days reflecting on and writing about the lessons they had learned.

Sharing group: Employees in this group did the same writing and reflecting as the reflection group but also spent five minutes discussing their insights with a fellow trainee.

Over the course of one month, workers in the reflection and sharing groups performed significantly better than those in the control group. On average, the reflection group outperformed the control group on the final training test by 22.8%, and the sharing group performed 25% better than the control group, despite the fact that both had spent less time working.

So, what’s the point? Teaching people more concepts and skills is probably less effective than inviting them to reflect on and then discuss their reflections.

Our courses are designed to allow for such reflection. At the end of each lesson in Getting Things Done®, for example, learners are invited to reflect on what they’ve learned and record their insights.

In both Crucial Conversations® courses, learners record how they intend to apply what they’ve learned, and then they share their plans with a learning partner. In fact, reflection and sharing play an important role in all our courses. But where you don’t see those opportunities built in, consider quick ways to give these opportunities.

I’d love to hear how you incorporate reflection and discussion when you facilitate. How do you encourage learners to reflect, and how do you think this impacts results? Please share in the comments section below.

Talk soon,


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3 thoughts on “The Relationship between Reflection and Results”

  1. Kevin Munson

    I really like the idea of creating a learning journey that engages the participants’ manager in their reflections, especially if their reflections can be immediately applied to a situation the manager can support them on.

  2. Darlene Cleveland Allen

    Another great aspect of reflection and sharing can assist colleagues with processing “what they heard” versus “what they thought they heard.” This is always important in our business world today which ensures we are all on the same page!

  3. Chris McGill

    Justin, I love this concept. I share in my trainings that I did not always value this idea of reflection. It has only been in the last few years that I recognize its usefulness in my own life in general but definitely in training sessions. I try to pause even throughout a course to stop and do this and of course begin each new day with “what did you learn yesterday”. If end early I ask they use the time to reflect and pause before jumping into the next task. I challenge them to have 45 minute meetings vs. 60 to build in reflection time. Finally, in many of my longer courses I ask people to submit a one-page reflection on their learning journey. I find these so rewarding to read afterwards! great article, thanks!

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