Title

Utilizing Experiential Collaboration to Enhance Facilitation Skills

Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Katherine H. Greenberg

Committee Members

Vincent A. Anfara Jr., Joel F. Diambra, Gene A. Hayes

Abstract

Collaborative learning has the potential to produce changes in perspectives in an ever-changing world; experiential learning has the potential to contribute to creating a collaborative environment. Both of these processes utilize effective facilitation. This action research study examined the experiences of a training group for which I served as the facilitator and explored the question, “How do participants in a group for which I serve as a facilitator of collaborative learning within an experiential learning framework describe their experience?” Additionally, the study examined the question, “How do the research participants’ experiences inform my professional practice of facilitation of collaborative learning?"

Twenty college-age young adults in the training group provided data from multiple qualitative sources. Hermeneutic analysis of data focused on: (1) the participants’ descriptions of their experiences along with their perceptions and reflections of those experiences; and (2) their experiences with me as their facilitator. Findings of the study addressed the participants’ desires to learn from their training experience (transformative learning), detailed their struggles to push past personal boundaries (constructs of competence and control), and explored the supportive relationships that developed within the group (mutuality and reciprocity).

Hermeneutic data analysis also provided insights into my practice of facilitation and gave support to the strength and structure that utilization of the experiential learning model brought to the group. The relationship between the intense experiential learning activities and the transfer of that learning to other activities and responsibilities was demonstrated through the participants’ descriptions as they noted their transformation into the role of facilitators. The practice of facilitation was enlightened by examining the constructs of problem solving, competence and control, and intensity of transfer of learning.

Implications of this research study identify collaborative learning and experiential learning to be dynamic learning processes that are best achieved in a safe environment within a planned framework of intentionality that includes iterative cycles of planning, action, observing, reflecting, and replanning. Given the current trend of reduced training time, the resulting higher levels of transfer of learning can produce an increase in training results for participants and more effective facilitation skills for training facilitators.

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