Audio reflection

Photo by Maxim Hopkinson on Unsplash

My colleague Jo Outteridge encouraged participants in our Active Learning Network meeting on ‘Active and Reflective Learning’ to produce a resource together by incorporating examples of reflective learning from our various areas of practice.

Jo introduced models of reflective and experiential learning including Driscoll (2007), Schon (reflecting in action, 1983), Kolb (experiential learning cycle, 1984), Gibbs (1998), Schon (reflecting on action, 1987), and Laurillard’s Conversational Framework (2002).

I decided to return to a model of a-PDP (audio-based personal development planning), one of the ‘audio active’ models I devised and reported on (Middleton, 2011).

I developed ‘a-PDP’ for use with Engineering students for a project involving two universities. It used the What, So What, Now What model (Driscoll, 2007; Schon, 1983). Students were encouraged to make a daily personal recording at the end of their study day to chart what they had done, the meaning of the action or what it had meant to them, and the implications of the action for what they might do in the future. They were encouraged to listen back to their recording when they next returned to campus. Each month they were asked to reflect on their ‘in action’ (Schon, 1987) audio record by producing written reflective ‘of action’ summaries. The change in media demanded a critical transformation in their reflective thinking.

The monthly summarisation in the a-PDP model supposes that the student has had the opportunity to experience a reflective learning cycle (Kolb, 1984) in which they had acted (concrete experience), generated or received feedback (reflective observation), applied their feedback to modify their understanding (abstract conceptualisation), and actively evaluated their new conceptualisation (active experimentation) through an opportunity to apply their learning.

Parallel universe

Conversation is an important part of the way I think about a rich learning environment, whether I am thinking about learning walks, peer learning, or the Unified Active Learning hybrid approach I am working with at the moment.

The a-PDP model reflects the iteration evident in Laurrilard’s conversational framework (2002) being a form of self-conversation over time which, in effect, becomes almost vicarious learning – learning by observing an ‘other’ (Bandura, 1962) with the ‘other’ being, in this case, one’s self as viewed at enough distance to create a necessary degree of objectivity.

In the paper, I note the value of switching media to the written form to force a critical repositioning.


Bandura, A. (1962). Social learning through imitation. In: M. R. Jones (ed.), ‘Nebraska symposium of motivation’, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 211-269.

Driscoll, J., ed. (2007). Practicing clinical supervision: A reflective approach for Healthcare Professionals. Edinburgh: Elsevier.

Gibbs, G. (1998) Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechic.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies.

Middleton, A. (2011). Audio active: Discovering mobile learner-gatherers from across the formal-informal continuum. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL), 3(2), pp. 31–42.

Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.

Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

About Andrew Middleton

NTF, PFHEA, committed to active learning, co-operative pedagogies, media-enhanced teaching and learning, authentic learning, postdigital learning spaces. Key publication: Middleton, A. (2018). Reimagining Spaces for Learning in Higher Education. Palgrave.
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