Professor Robin Middlehurst
Vice-Chancellor's Office, Kingston University London, UK
Professor Michael Cross
Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Research-PULSAR Series, March 2014
This essay explores the process of Action Learning – a method for problem solving and learning from experience - as it was used and experienced in the PULSAR Programme. The essay commences with an outline of the origins and key features of the action learning process and method and is followed by a description of the way the process was used on the Programme.
Within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, each country and institution has its particular history and developmental trajectory and each of the participants had their own professional and institutional objectives. The Action Learning process was intended to assist participants in meeting those objectives by applying the methodology to their work on a strategically important institutional project for which each participant was responsible. For most of the participants, the experience represented their first encounter with the Action Learning method.
The essay critically reviews the experience of participants in using the methodology within the workshop and within their varied institutional and national contexts. It looks at both the achievements of the Programme through Action Learning, which are overwhelmingly positive, and the areas that require development and adaptation in future endeavours. The PULSAR experience suggests that when Action Learning takes into account the specific individual and group profiles of participants, the contextual complexity in which they operate, and is combined with adequately conceptualised delivery and learning strategies, it could be an important pedagogical device in leadership development programmes for senior university administrators in the context of Southern Africa.
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