Becoming a Facilitator: Enabling
We explore what facilitation means, why it is needed and how facilitation
can be used to encourage reflective learning, through reflective dialogue.
We describe the journey of the traditional subject teacher from the exclusively 'expert' role to a more balanced approach, incorporating the role of
facilitator, while retaining her subject expertise, and we end the chapter
with some of the barriers to, and benefits of, facilitation.
What is facilitation?
For many people facilitation is just another way of teaching. The teacher
behaves in a different way, encouraging the class or group to contribute, but
ultimately tells them what to learn, how to learn it and how it will be
assessed. The recognition and articulation of decisions about learning is
part of facilitation and we discuss this below. The word 'facilitate', is defined
(in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary
|1. ||to render easier or|
|2. ||to promote|
and, when asked the questions
|• ||'to render what easier?' or|
|• ||'to promote what?'|
for staff in higher education, the answer must be 'learning'. Not just any
learning, but reflective learning, defined in Chapter 5, is what is expected
now in higher education, whereas traditionally, 'those undergoing higher
education of any kind may find that they have learned successfully how to
pass written examinations - and nothing else' (Salmon, 1980: 12). Even
where exams have been partially replaced by coursework, 'students adjust
their study in terms of their understanding of what the assessor requires
them to know' (Radley, 1980: 37).
The traditional approach to learning in higher education has ignored the