Experience and expertise of consultants, facilitators, volunteers or participants relative to public participation practices has the potential to be an asset or a limitation. For instance, the ability for increased knowledge transfer between actors has the potential to be a positive contribution to a project by enabling creative discussion. However, former experience can also impede situations if knowledge is imposed without adequate deliberation. It is therefore important that when expressing or relating a previous experience or when gaining lessons and outcomes within a project, one remembers to look self-critically at their actions and values.
The concept of Reflective Practice is described as ‘methods and techniques that help individuals and groups reflect on their experiences and actions in order to engage in a process of continuous learning’. Particularly, the concept refers to the capacity of individuals but also groups to be attentive to their own values, sense of purpose, motivation, language, communication and perspectives. To be critical of actions, that is, assumptions, frameworks and patterns of behaviour and explore the possible impacts these may have on others or outcomes of the participatory method. Reflective practices promote learning within the project duration and are considered a key element of participatory approaches by expanding learning and extending insights. Overall, reflective learning activates awareness of power in social relations, identities values of actors and individuals and highlights contextual challenges and opportunities.
Example: Reflective Learning International