Action Reflection Learning | ARL | peopleHum

What is Action Reflection Learning?

Action reflection learning (ARL) is the process which helps one become a better learner by reflecting, testing assumptions and asking questions to resolve complex business problems. ARL is a branch for the action learning process. This is usually done in a small group with a team approach in which members contribute equally and teach one another.

Difference between reflection-on action v/s reflection-in action

Reflection-on-action refers to the retrospective consideration of training to discover, analyse and interpret the recalled information, the knowledge utilised in practical situations.  

On the hand, reflections in action means that you think about what you do while you do it; they are usually encouraged by surprise and by something that baffled you.

What are the steps of an Action Learning Program?

Isabel Rimanoczy investigated the methodology of Action Reflection Learning (ARL) and codified it in 2004, identifying 16 elements and 10 fundamental principles. The ten learning principles of the action reflection model are as follows:  

  • Tacit Knowledge  
  • Reflection  
  • Reinforcement  
  • Uncovering, adapting and building new maps and models
  • Social Learning
  • Facilities Learning
  • Relevance  
  • Integration  
  • Self-awareness
  • Systemic understanding and practices

Tacit Knowledge

Knowledge exists in innate and often unexplained forms within individuals; it is often underused and accessible via guided introspection.


The ability to reflect on expertise attentively is an important step in the process of learning and makes it possible to generate larger relevance from a given situation.


Repetition and reinforcement

Practice brings expertise and positive strengthening increases the level of assimilation.

Uncovering, adapting and building new maps and models

Reveal new layouts and models, adaptation and construction

The most important learning occurs when people can shift the perspective from which they usually view the world, leading to greater understanding, self-confidence and intelligent actions (of the world and others).

Social Learning

Learning arises from socialisation, and so people learn more than oneself with others.

Facilitated Learning

A particular role is played by the expert in teaching and learning strategies and procedures who can help people and groups learn.


Learning is optimised when the emphasis of the learning for the individual is relevant, realistic and time - bound.


People are a fusion of mind, body, mind, sentiment and emotion and they react the best when considering, engaging and appreciating all aspects of their being.


Self-consciousness is an important step towards improving individual and professional skill through attempting to comprehend the relationship between what they feel, think, act and influence on others.

Systemic understanding and practices

We live in a complex, interconnected and co-created world and we must take into account the different systems and contexts that influence each other in order to better understand and address individual and organisation's problems.  

How does Action Reflection Learning help individuals?

Action Reflection Learning (ARL) evolved organically by choosing and knowingly introducing practitioners who had an informal exchange of experiences. It became a common practise that incorporated design and intervention elements adopted by practitioners because of their effectiveness.

Reflection-action seeks to recognise and harmonise different approaches, including programming and research, to transformative practises using participatory tools and processes to challenge and shift power. In the first place Reg Revans, who applied the method to encourage business and organisational development initiatives as well as to improve the problem-solving attempts, developed the theory of action learning and its epistemical position. The other benefits include:

  • Enhanced business efficiency and profitability.
  • Enhanced problem solving and capacity for leadership.
  • Enough improvement and resilience.
  • Learning from implementation of new strategies or change in culture by both individual and organisation.
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