Reflection and learning in ARD

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Hawkings R.
Ekong J.
Salm M.

Networks and organizations need to find ways to be more effective in pursuing their objectives and thus seek to “learn” to be able to respond, innovate and adapt to complex, changing social and environmental conditions, thus bringing about social change. An essential capacity for ARD (Agricultural Research for Development) partnerships is therefore the ability to reflect and learn. Learning is not simply about increasing knowledge and skills or changing attitudes; it is about making sense of complexity to act more effectively. Commitment to learning, however, requires time, effort, and resources. That is, ongoing learning, whether in an organization, long-term partnership or network, requires allocating time to come together with the clear purpose of learning, as well as adequate planning and preparation. Reflection in groups allows individuals and the group to learn from the experience and perspectives of its diverse members. Safety, trust, personal expression and team building are important for creating the right group learning environment. Key to effective group learning is facilitation — whether by a designated member of the group or a skilled external person or group. Effective facilitation creates the safe and participatory space that encourages members to adhere to agreed ground rules and maintains a high energy level and positive approach. Facilitators also help participants identify and articulate key points; encourage open expression of opinion allowing diverse voices to be heard and ensuring inclusive participation.

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