"Action learning is a means of development, intellectual, emotional
or physical, that requires its subject, through responsible involvement
in some real, complex and stressful problem, to achieve intended change
sufficient to improve his observable behaviour henceforth in the problem
The learning achieved is not so much an acquaintance with new factual knowledge nor technical art conveyed by some authority such as an expert or a teacher (although such fresh acquaintance is not ruled out), as it is the more appropriate use, by reinterpretation, of the subject's existing knowledge, including his recollections of past lived experiences. This reinterpretation is a social process, carried on among two or more learners who, by the apparent incongruity of their exchanges, frequently cause each other to examine afresh many ideas that they would otherwise have continued to take for granted, however false or misconceived.
Action learning particularly obliges subjects to become aware of their own value systems, by demanding that the real problems tackled carry some risk of personal failure, so that the subjects can truly help each other to evaluate in what they may genuinely believe.
Action learning demands real-time and hence observable activity on the subjects' parts, and thus tests whether the subjects are committed to what they can, in other conditions, merely asseverate.
Revans, R.W. (1981) ‘The nature of action learning’, Omega, 9 (1), pp. 9-24, Science Direct [Online]. Available from: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/10.1016/0305-0483(81)90061-X (Accessed: 11 November 2010).