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Facilitator Guidance: Learning and Application


The learning approaches within each of the modules have been adopted from techniques advocated within Reflective Practice, Appreciative Inquiry and Action Learning.

Reflective Practice:
Based on the principle that ‘our knowing is in our action’, the process of reflection-in-action is introduced into learning modules in order to build participants confidence in their own implicit judgements recognising the art by which practitioners deal well with situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflict.

adapted from:

By using Kolb’s learning Cycle to construct each module, participants are introduced to the four different stages of learning from experience. Although these can be entered at any point, all stages must be followed in sequence for successful learning to take place. The Learning Cycle suggests that it is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn, it is necessary to reflect on the experience to make generalisations and formulate concepts, which can then be applied to new situations. This learning must then be tested out in new situations. The learner must make the link between the theory and action by planning, acting out, reflecting and relating it back to the theory.

Concrete Experience (doing / having an experience)
In the case of this teaching module, the Concrete Experience is the 'doing' component which derives from the content and process of the module - through attending the workshops as well as the reading of the on-line learning materials - together with actual experience of working within the field.

Participant experience is demonstrated through their pre-course activities by completing Case Studies and Partnership Scenario frameworks.

Reflective Observation (reviewing / reflecting on the experience)
The Reflective Observation element stems from the analysis and judgements of personal experience in the field as well as involvement in case study scenarios and the discussions engaged with other participants attending the module.

Participant reflection is encouraged through discussing each session’s appropriateness, evaluation of each module using the templates within the workbooks, as well as reflecting upon each other’s practice.

Abstract Conceptualisation (concluding / learning from the experience)
In addition to reflections on experience, the presentation of relevant literature through slides, workbooks and discussion supports participants in planning what they would do differently next time. By bringing together theories and the analysis of past actions, participants can come to conclusions about their practice through Abstract Conceptualism.

Participant learning from experience is provided through a knowledge of relevant theory, signposting to appropriate literature and a sharing of personal concepts and ideas.

Active Experimentation (planning / trying out what has been learned)
The conclusions formed from the Abstract Conceptualisation stage then form the basis for planned changes through Active Experimentation. The cycle therefore begins again when participants implement those changes in their practice to generate another concrete experience which is then followed by reflection and review to form conclusions about the effectiveness of those changes.

Participants are guided towards continuously sharing their new ‘concrete experiences’ and reflect upon these with their peers. Participants are therefore encouraged to attend more than one module, so that they are able to discuss their experiences within a supportive learning environment.

The principles of Reflective Practice are as important to the development of facilitators as it is within its use for participants, as it enables learning from the experience of teaching and facilitating student learning. Facilitators are therefore encouraged to consider their own experiences of teaching as well as reviewing the feedback from participants in order to support continuous development.

Appreciative Inquiry:
All the conversation-based processes used during the modules recognise the use of the power of inquiry to change things. The use of positive discussion and reflection can encourage participants to look and think broadly, to interact with others, to try new things and to be creative.

Action Learning:
Three fundamental values drawn from the principles of action learning underpin the approaches for delivering these modules and need to be adopted by facilitators in their working practices. These encourage:

1. being honest with oneself and others in order to develop and change
2. respecting others and their viewpoint regardless of who they are
3. taking responsibility for our own actions and behaviours without blaming others for what goes wrong.

These principles of action learning have been used to underpin each learning module with the aim that participants are encouraged to apply their learning between modules.

Learning Styles:
Facilitators will bring an understanding of the need for flexibility within learning situations and aim to create an environment of interdependency with participants where each will draw upon one another’s knowledge and skills to achieve the learning objectives.

The modules have been set up in a way that uses different learning styles, providing a range of training methods within each module, which include: energetic and practical activities; time to think and have some solitude; the development of analysis and logic; and the opportunity for practical problem-solving with relevance to real world experiences.


Use of Case Studies and Partnership Scenarios:
The use of case studies provides an interactive learning environment and the opportunity to set the training within real life/work situations. In order to achieve this learning, each participant will be required to build a short case scenario from their own experiences using a similar case study framework*

These need to be completed prior to the first session, anonymised, and shared amongst the group. By sharing authentic problems encountered in the field, each participant will draw on their own and others experience, applying the information and resources encountered during the sessions and building a portfolio of scenario based learning for future reference.

* Participants are encouraged to collaborate with others from their organisation in their preparation of scenarios, who may also be attending the sessions.

Use of the slides:
A set of annotated slides with notes pages have been developed for use by facilitators and these draw attention to the particular learning concepts outlined above. In particular, guidance is offered for the use of suggested activities within the modules. These activities are also supported by the variety of case studies and partnership scenarios which have been drawn from recent experiences in the field. Each slide has a number in the top right hand corner which relates to the page in the module workbook which holds the relevant information.

Use of the Workbook:
The key aim of each workbook is to provide participants with a resource base of information & knowledge, concepts, models, tools & techniques for understanding the module topic. Facilitators may use the content of each workbook as a guide to preparing their sessions, as well as providing their participants with a record of relevant ‘know-how’ in their chosen topic area.

Facilitator Approach:
The authors of these modules would like to add some final practical hints on making the best use of the materials. These are based on the experience of piloting the application of all the tools and concepts and adjusting the format and content in respect of participant feedback

  • Spend time yourself reading through each workbook and studying the information
  • Think about your own learning style and approaches to facilitating
  • Be clear about what is familiar territory and consider asking specialists to help with some of the delivery if it isn’t your topic area
  • Understand that encouraging a learning environment requires enthusiasm, confidence and energy from the facilitator
  • Take time to reflect on your own experiences as well as those of the participants
  • Ensure that all materials are correctly cited within your own slides and workbooks
  • Enjoy your experiences!


  • Buckley, R. and Caple, J. (2004) The Theory and Practice of Training London: Kogan Page
  • Lewis, S., Passmore, J. and Cantore, S. (2008) Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management London: Kogan Page
  • Schon, D.A. (1991) The Reflective Practitioner Aldershot: Ashgate
  • Weinstein, K. (2002) Action Learning A Practical Guide England: Gower