However you learn best — visually, auditory, or kinesthetically — you’ll reap the most rewards by spending time reflecting on your experiences. At least, that’s according to new research published by the Harvard Business School:
[The] results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.” … In fact, these beneficial effects seem to be lasting.
Why do reflection efforts generate an improvement in problem-solving capacity? We propose that the link between learning-by-thinking and greater performance is explained by self-efficacy, or a personal evaluation of one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action to attain designated goals…
The study behind these findings involved a random sample of 202 people, each individually given an online creativity test. One group of test-takers were instructed to reflect on a pre-test, writing down any strategies they thought might be helpful for the next test. Another group was told to also write down their thoughts and strategies, with the caveat that their notes would be shared with others. The final group was given no instructions for rumination.
In the end, both of the groups that were tasked with thinking about the pre-test performed significantly better than the group that did not spend any time thinking about the tasks at hand.
The research is clear: dedicating time to reflect on your life and work regularly (like with a daily check-in) really does have an affect on performance. Read the full details of the research (and get the final paper on the results) right here.