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Critical thinking is a necessary basic skill that supports further educational development and an important element of many work-based learning projects. This skill can be fostered in numerous ways. In Jobs to Careers, this occurred through both group and individual processes. Learning Circles constitute an effective group approach to promoting critical thinking. Reflection (e.g., through journaling) is a great way for workers to develop this important foundational skill on their own.




The Theory and Practice of WBL PowerPoint
A Toolkit of Learning Strategies
In Jobs to Careers projects, reflection is often scheduled throughout the learning process, enabling students to take on a “digestible piece” of learning and then reflect on what they learned. Joseph A. Raelin, of the Center for Work and Learning at Northeastern University and an early advisor to Jobs to Careers, presents three levels of reflection: content reflection, which looks at how we have consciously applied ideas in solving a problem; process reflection, which examines how we go about problem solving with a view toward the procedures and assumptions in use; and premise reflection, which questions the very presuppositions related to the original problem. Raelin, in the toolkit of learning strategies, also provides individual and team exercises for reflective learning. 

Learning Circles

Alaska Project: Use of Learning Communities and Self-Assessment
University of Alaska coordinator describes two core components of Alaska project site's work-based learning program for behavioral health workers: participation in learning communities and development of a personal portfolio to self-assess competencies:

Coaching and Mentoring PowerPoint
In Baltimore’s Jobs to Careers project, a coach employed by Good Samaritan Hospital established Coach’s Circle, a required, weekly one-hour meeting for trainees. The goals of Coach’s Circle were to build trust within the group and to enable trainees to share and reflect on what they were learning and experiencing their first weeks on the job. 

Behavioral Health Workforce Development in Rural Alaska
Merging Tradition and Innovation in Workforce Development Coming soon! 
In AlaskaJobs to Careers combined modern instructional methods (e.g., teleconferencing) with elements of traditional culture (e.g., Learning Circles, the use of village elders as mentors). Learning Circles, or “Talking Circles,” a concept used in Native-American and Alaskan-Native cultures, utilizes a team approach to set and accomplish learning objectives. As a teaching method, Learning Circles capture the thoughts and feelings of learners, many of whom may not feel comfortable or compelled to participate in a regular classroom setting. With its process of one person having the floor to speak at a time and moving in order from one person to the next, the emphasis is on respectful listening rather than competitive dialogue.


Behavioral Health Workforce Development in Rural Alaska
Merging Tradition and Innovation in Workforce Development
 Coming soon!
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Norton Sound Health Corporation partnered to train behavioral health aides to serve remote villages in northwest Alaska’s Bering Straits region. In a process designed by university staff, aides mastered behavioral health competencies through guided learning experiences that involved observing and then conducting service activities. NSHC employees served as adjunct faculty; university faculty and village elders served as the learners’ mentors and advisors. On a weekly basis, learners used journaling to reflect on their experiences. They were encouraged to share their experiences with their supervisors as well as with peers and elders. Elders brought a unique contribution to the learning experience, creating an explicit connection with the tribal culture and language and offering a culturally attuned perspective on the nature of individual and community problems and paths to healing. Perhaps most important, the elders’ presence fostered self-confidence in the learners about their personal value, heritage, and ability to make meaningful contributions to their communities.

Journal Writing PowerPoint
PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act) PowerPoint
In New York City’s ChinatownJobs to Careers prepared frontline staff at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to become medical assistants. The work-based learning portion of the curriculum was developed by health center staff and was directly relevant to participants’ work. For example, participants learned about the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s model for improving care, which includes training in the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. Participants applied the cycle in the workplace (e.g., in terms of dealing with a difficult patient) and reflected on lessons learned. The work-based learning component of the program occurred at the workplace and consisted of journaling by the participant; learners acquired techniques in classrooms and one-on-one learning sessions between each participant and a preceptor. Participants also kept journals, documenting what they learned and how it applied to the workplace. Participants reviewed these journals with their supervisors at the health center on a regular basis.

Community Colleges Get to Work: Adopting Work-Based Learning in Partnership with Health Care Employers
SSTAR Excels: Investing in a Work-Based Learning Approach to Professional Development
Employees at SSTAR, a behavioral health provider in Fall River, Massachusetts, participated in a course on running therapeutic groups. The course was developed by SSTAR staff and Bristol Community College faculty members. Students wrote and reflected in journals on their experiences with assessing and diagnosing patients and running group therapy sessions. They also wrote about the roles they played with their SSTAR supervisors and BCC faculty, and participated in facilitated discussions to address job issues, either encountered or observed, in light of topics covered in class.

A Toolkit of Learning Strategies
Joseph A. Raelin, of the Center for Work and Learning at Northeastern University and an early advisor to Jobs to Careers, presents journaling as one of a series of strategies to promote work-based learning and reflection. In Raelin’s toolkit, the Asante Jobs to Careers site is used as an example of journal use in training informatics technicians through work-based learning.