Action Learning Sets

What are Action Learning Sets?

…a continuous process of learning and reflection that happens with the support of a group or ‘set’ of colleagues, working on real issues, with the intention of getting things done. The voluntary participants in the group or ‘set’ learn with and from each other and take forward an important issue with support of the other members of the set.

McGill & Brockbank (2004)

Action learning sets are small structured groups that connect at regular intervals to discuss an area of common interest. During each session, participants each take turns in discussing questions, challenges or problems with their groups to develop solutions in a supportive environment. Participants support each other in finding solutions to what might otherwise seem intractable problems while at the same time building community using a sustainable approach. Participation in an action learning set  provides the time and space to attend to the relationship  between reflection and learning.

Action Learning Sets have been used as an effective tool for professional development across various sectors and disciplines. In COED,  Action Learning Sets have been created along shared areas of interest, similar to the evolution of the Curriculum Working Group. By combining groups of COED members in different roles or stages of their career, the Action Learning Sets offer an effective tool for networking and mentorship. 

How does it work?

  • A set is a dedicated and intentional space for members to engage in action learning.
  • A typical set cycle is over a one year period
  • Intervals of one month is typical between set meetings
  • Members take turns focusing their support on one person at a time
  • The time within each set is distributed evenly among members
  • When not presenting members are actively engaged in listening and supporting the presenter

To learn more about the process, this short guide provides a helpful overview:

Active COED Action Learning Sets

  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Leadership in Educational Development
  • Experiential Education
  • Onboarding and Faculty Development
  • Access and Accessibility in Educational Development
  • Indigenous Education 
  • Graduate Student Development
  • Supporting Contingent Faculty

Starting or Joining an Action Learning Set

Calls for COED members to form new Action Learning Sets or join existing ones are sent out through the COED ListServ. If you have an idea for an Action Learning Set that you think would appeal to the COED community and is not on this list, feel free to contact the COED Executive.