Future Ideal Retrospective Activity to Reflect on a program’s Strategic Directions

This Future Ideal Retrospective activity required each of the participants to: make notes as we spent 60-90 minutes reading the exit self-assessments submitted by graduating students of the Critical & Creative Thinking Graduate Program and surveys of alums; do a “future ideal retrospective” brainstorm; and  cluster everyone’s brainstorming post-its into strategic directions.

The future ideal retrospective  approach asks us to imagine that it is a few years in the future (Future) and we’re explaining to someone how wonderfully the Program has done (Ideal) in maintaining what had worked well and in addressing  shortcomings and challenges.  The person asks what things happened (Retrospective) that contributed to that state of affairs.  Our answers to the person are the items we record in a few words on the post-its.  (These items could range from the mundane and practical to the more visionary.)  The naming of  the clusters provided directions or themes that might help guide the Program faculty as we  attempt to maintain what has worked well and in address shortcomings and challenges.  These directions or themes were presented in the main body of the report.  The post-its and their clustering by one participant are depicted on the figure below.  In this illustration, the clusters are grouped into further clusters, resulting in an overall vision for the program:
“People ready for self-directed, life-long learning find CCT via marketing that shows such learning emerges thru mentoring, reflection & horizontal + vertical connections of students & alums.”

(For the full self-study and appendices, see http://www.cct.umb.edu/aquad10appendices.html)

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

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