Tip #798: How to Get Closure on a Learning Activity

“What was closure if not a clock? Not an end as everyone imagined, but a beginning.” Celeste Chaney

An article by Susan Landay identifies two steps needed to get closure on a learning activity:

  1. The Debrief—a time for processing and discussion whereby you review, experience and extract key learning points.
  2. The Commitment—when you consciously make the effort to commit the information to memory and, if appropriate, take action in implementing changes. 

Various LinkedIn contributors offered a variety of methods to accomplish each step. I’ve culled my favorites.

For the Debrief:

  • What? So What? Now What?
    The focus of these questions is: What have you learned? So what, what is the significance of the learning? Now what are you going to do or change going forward?
  • Stop. Continue. Change.
    On the last page of the workbook have attendees write four words: start, stop, continue, change. After the training, ask participants to go to that page and respond to those four prompts: Based on their learning, what are they going to start doing and stop doing? What will they continue doing? How will they change up what they’re doing? This helps them focus on what they’ve learned and what they’re actually going to do when they get back to work or home. [Submitted online by Dian Anderson]
  • Points to Ponder
    At the start of the training, tell your group to collect “points to ponder” over the course of the session. Towards the end of the session, ask that they each share their top three points to ponder. Sharing should include: why these points were selected, how they plan to implement that learning. Following the discussion, engage the group in a conversation about how they can make it happen: What resources they would need in order to move forward? What time frame would be workable? [Submitted online by Aliya K]
  • One Thing
    Rather than focusing on a whole slew of learning points, have participants answer this question for themselves: “What is the one thing I learned, which if I start doing now, can make a big difference to my work/output/contribution?”

For the Commitment:

  • Start – Stop – Continue – Change

This method, first introduced to our group by Dian Anderson, has been embellished by scores of others.  Following are some facilitation suggestions to maximize the effectiveness of this technique.

  1. My variation, using Green, Yellow and Red Cards, can be particularly useful in longer sessions, as a tool to engage the audience. Periodically, throughout the learning event, I hold up a particular card and engage the group in a discussion about a Green Behavior, which should be continued; Red Behavior, which need to stop; or Yellow behaviors, over which we should be watchful and proceed cautiously. Posted online by Sajan Nair

2. I like to get folks up on their feet, so I have laminated road signs that say START STOP CONTINUE CHANGE. I ask participants to go to the last              page in their workbooks and challenge themselves in one or more of these areas. Then………be prepared to share with the group! I then ask                 volunteers to stand and choose one of these road signs (hold it up to the class) and share with the group what they have challenged themselves to do!  Melissa Wood

3. Several have added the word SHARE to the quartet. They’ll ask: Who needs you to share the information you learned with them?

  • Who. When. An Action Plan for applied learning

Ask your group to complete an Action Plan at the end of the training session. Have them write:

  • WHAT is to be done
  • WHO can help
  • WHEN it should be done

Posted online by Fayo Williams

  • OMI or OMG

I ask them for…

  • an OMI–One Meaningful Idea to implement
  • an OMG–One Meaningful Goal to pursue.

Posted online by Phyllis Strupp

  • An offshoot to the Start, Stop… is keeping TABBs: 
    • Takeaway from the ‘event’
    • Action you will take
    • Barriers that may hinder your progress
    • Benefits of overcoming the barriers and implementing the learning

Posted online by Kavita Iver


What techniques do you use to debrief and get a commitment?

May your learning be sweet.


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