What is Developmental Reflexivity in ART: Collogue 2022 #1


Developmental reflexivity demands that we not just think about our work in the privacy of our own minds, or in after action reviews.  Instead we can practice in becoming active in asking for and giving feedback. In this way we, and the system and stakeholders around us, can self correct. With more intelligence in a system all involved in ART are developing toward mutuality and systems intelligence. 

But what is developmental reflexivity? How is it part of ART? 

In the first meeting of our 2022 we focus on the issue of reflexivity and specifically its developmental nature. By developmental we mean constructivist adult development which suggests that people can continue to learn and grow after the age of 21. But we must make some effort by engaging with the complex demands of our surroundings (as opposed to seeking authoritarian solutions outside ourselves). The fact of our capacity for development, along with decades of work that explains the stages of later maturity in adults, is important for the work of Action Research Transformations. It suggests that reflexivity is a learning path along which we learn to respond to increased complexity in our outer world, by maturing ourselves in our inner world of sense making and action taking choices. Action Research Transformations is a path of adult development that supports sustainable development more broadly. ART develops as ARTists develop better worlds. 

In ART use seven quality choicepoints to assess and develop quality in our action research.  We have been working with these choicepoints since the first Handbook of Action Research.They were taken into the first issue of the Action Research journal in 2003 to support authors in publishing better papers. The choicepoints are refreshed occasionally. Developmental reflexivity, choicepoint number 7, was added most recently.  It was added at the same time that we issued a call to more educators, change-leaders and scholars to engage more directly with issues of sustainable development.

| Why is developmental reflexivity important?

Our 2022 participative collogue series started with Bill Torbert, who, for decades has advocated for an adult development approach to action research and change leadership more generally.   A Chandler and Torbert, 2003 ARJ article articulated this key idea for action researchers. This article offered what has become popular vocabulary to describe the interweaving of objectivity and subjectivity of ART as  first person-, second person- and third person action research. In this interweaving the practice of reflexivity is central as we make our subjectivity (e.g., our learning defenses) more objective.

Our collogue started among ARTists on April 1. The 18 mins synthesis of video up top combines voices from the worlds of academia and practice. Listen in to hear more about: 

  1. Developmental reflexivity is a critical element of doing ART, a step toward making social sciences matter again;
  2. Change leaders not used to reflexivity can be invited on developmental journeys that align with their work;
  3. Well facilitated spaces are crucial if we are to listen well both to ourselves and others;
  4. Students who are stepping up the the developmental challenge of reflexivity could use more faculty support;
  5. Capacity for reflexivity is a function of  developmental maturity; we can practice and learn to do it better;
  6. Awareness of our embodied intelligence (“intuition”) can be an important signal to the ARTist willing to experiment with getting self and others back on track. 

In the following 12 mins. video snippet Bill Torbert offers a story from his latest book (Torbert, 2021) which brings developmental reflexivity alive.

Our collogue continues in summer and autumn. We will also share the parallel podcast series AR+ Yes/And! 


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