In module 1 the focus was about being open to learning in the way you behave by focusing on model 2 behavior. The aim of this module is to help the participants of the PLC to be more effective in their conversation by being better at exposing the thinking and reasoning behind behavior and actions.
Bushe (2010) said that every goal-oriented action you take is based on some theory you have about how that action will lead to the goal. Theories of action describe the links between what people do (actions), the beliefs and values that explain their actions, and the consequences of those actions, both intended and unintended (Argyris & Schon, 1978). To understand the links between what lies behind what people say and do, and the beliefs and interpersonal values that drive this behavior, is important for the development of PLC.
In a PLC, it is important to be aware of this in conversations and discussions, so that all members of the group become good at checking what the basis for the assumptions is, and whether these assumptions are valid or not. As the members of the PLCs disclose and test their theories of action, they engage in frequent reflection based on their actions and resulting outcomes (Donohoo & Velasco, 2016). It is also important that the participants spend time articulating the theories they have, i.e. justify and explain what they think, and what consequences they intend to reach. In this module, therefore, the focus is on understanding what theories-of-action are, understanding how these theories affect our learning (Single loop and double loop learning, Argyris and Schon, 1978). Our theories can sometimes affect what we notice and what we ignore, so in this module we also present a thinking tool that can help the PLC to be better at communicating, by using more time on identifying information and using time on describing and interpret the information before we draw conclusions; The Ladder of Inference (Argyris, 1982).
Read: Thinking tool “Theories of action, Single loop and double loop learning”, and “Thinking tool The ladder of inference”.
Take notes: What distinguishes single loop from double loop learning, and what is the connection to Theories of Action? What are key elements in the understanding of The Ladder of Inference?
What to practice: Expose the reasons behind your own thinking, and to test and challenge assumptions you and others hold before you draw any conclusions/decide any solutions for the actual problem. By:
- Make your thinking process visible to yourself and others (disclose your assumptions and beliefs)
- Invite others to test your assumptions, beliefs and conclusions
- Use respectful inquiry to help others to make their thinking process/ assumptions visible – by reminding each other of The Ladder of Inference
Pre-session (10 minutes)
- Discuss what distinguishes single loop from double loop learning, and how your theories of action can prevent double loop learning.
- Share with the others what you want to do in this session in order to contribute to increased reflexivity and learning
- Choose one observer who will focus on the communication in the meeting and try to disclose whether Theories of Action is made explicit and tested in the meeting, or are the participants jumping to conclusions without testing assumptions and without using time to identify, describe and interpret information
Implementation of today’s PLC meeting
Post-session (15 minutes)
- Each participant uses 5 minutes to think back on how they managed to practice their skills in the meeting, while the observer tries to sum up and think of some evidence to use to back up the observation. Then the observers present the main communication patterns of the meeting, by giving some examples of how people reveal their theory of action, and explore others, and how this affected the effectiveness of the meeting. The group reflects together on the feedback.
- The group decides whether to work on the module for one more meeting or not.