Critically reflective dialogues in learning communities of professionals

Esther de Groot*, Maaike D. Endedijk, A. Debbie C Jaarsma, P. Robert Jan Simons, Peter van Beukelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Communities in which professionals share and create knowledge potentially support their continued learning. To realise this potential more fully, members are required to reflect critically. For learning at work such behaviour has been described as critically reflective work behaviour, consisting of six aspects: challenging groupthink, critical opinion sharing, an openness about mistakes, asking for and giving feedback, experimentation and research utilisation. We studied whether and how these aspects can be distinguished in dialogues of seven different communities of veterinary professionals (critically reflective dialogues). Our exploration of the nature of critically reflective dialogues resulted in an analytical framework. Within each aspect four different modes of communication were identified: interactive, on an individual basis, non-reflective and restricted. We assume that professionals use learning opportunities most in the interactive mode of communication. The framework was employed to study the extent to which dialogues showed these modes of critically reflective dialogues. The results demonstrate that in these communities the modes of communication within aspects were largely non-interactive (i.e., individual, non-reflective). The developed framework discriminates between communities in terms of their critically reflective dialogues. Interventions to improve the effectiveness of learning communities should focus on enhancement of members addressing each other's reasons and reflections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-37
Number of pages23
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • continuing learning
  • critically reflective dialogues
  • health care professionals
  • learning communities


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