Robert from SessionLab

Experiential learning & Debriefing session

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90 - 1204 - 30 High

This is a practical training module to teach how to brief and debrief an exercise.

There is a strong 'meta' aspect in this session: you have a real experiential exercise during the session, and you will narrow down on the experience of how the briefing and the debriefing were done by the trainers.

This way participants will have the chance to first take part in a debriefing as participants, and then analyse the experience they just had.



  • Show how to brief an exercise
  • Demonstrate and review how to debrief experiential learning exercises



Precondition: Prepare a practical, experiential exercise for this session, e.g a simulation activity.


  1. Brief the activity to participants. First make a confusing briefing with various mistakes. Then make a proper briefing.
  2. Pause the session and analyse (debrief) as a group what happened and draw up the learning points on how to do a briefing.
  3. Run the actual exercise
  4. Debrief the exercise with the group
  5. Again, pause the session, shift perspective, and analyse together how to debriefing was done. Draw learning points.
  6. Conclude the session by asking everyone what they learnt in this session. Make sure that everybody shares enough and asks more questions, where needed.

A pattern you may use the debriefing process:

1. Identify the situation from many points of view – ask “What happened?”, “What did you see / hear?”

2. Assign meaning to the observations – ask “What does X mean?”, “What caused Z?”,

3. Seek implementation of the knowledge gained – ask “How are you going to use this knowledge?”

Make sure it also clear that the whole debriefing process needs to be driven by the trainer using questioning and seeking for many sources of input among the participants, making sure that everybody is following the thought process and keeping up with the conclusions.

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