Originally created as a tool to help inexperienced facilitators create and manage experiential learning activity and program reviews, Chiji Processing Cards became a standard in the experiential education field and now are also used by highly experienced facilitators around the world.
Not simply pretty pictures on a deck of playing cards, they are a valuable educational tool for all experiential educators who recognize processing (or debriefing) as the most challenging part of quality experiential learning facilitation. Spread out amongst a group of people, the cards include forty-eight images that assist participants in creating their own metaphors.
Metaphors are a particularly useful way to help learners articulate feelings and emotions, clarify thoughts, experiences and outcomes, and practice reflection. As it is generally understood that the most important parts of the Kolb Learning Cycle process are the Reflect, Conclude and Apply stages, this tool can be invaluable as it can be used in each of these stages.
For further information on the Kolb Cycle click here.
The Meaning of Chiji
Chiji is a Chinese word meaning "significant moment" or “turning point.” It is an event that changes a person’s life, and whether that change is for the better or for the worse depends on the individual’s readiness and willingness to learn from the experience. Chi literally means "key," suggesting that if a person has the key, then the significant moment can be used to open the door to new and valuable opportunities.
While the chances of a significant moment or turning point from participation in an experiential learning activity may be rare, these cards offer an opportunity for a facilitator to help each learner reflect on the activity and go through the full Kolb Learning Cycle to unpack learning from it, and determine how it might be applied in the future.
While experienced facilitators will be able to find ways to use these cards as openers, or icebreakers to help participants focus on objectives, or have them focus and reflect on particular aspects or issues within a programme, an inexperienced facilitator can use them immediately:
At the end of any activity, spread the cards face up and ask participants: ‘Pick one or two cards that, for any reason, describe your feelings, thoughts or emotions from participating in this activity.’ The use of metaphor makes it easier for participants to articulate an insight they can share with the group, practicing their reflection skills, and potentially leading to improved insights for the group and each participant.
Chiji Processing Cards contain images and metaphors which help people to think about and explain ideas, feelings or opinions. They can be used by a facilitator with a group or in one-to-one sessions.
The main suggested review/processing question after an activity is:
Pick one or two cards, that for any reason, describe your thoughts,feelings, or emotions from (today’s/that) activity. In a minute or two I will ask you to explain why you chose your cards. Your feelings, thoughts or emotions can be personal, or they may be about the group. They may be about today, or a memory of another time that was brought by today’s activity (ies). I don’t care what you want to talk about, but I do want you to pick an insight that you are willing to share with the group.
Each use of the Chiji cards should be preceded by the creation of a series of carefully worded review questions that you can use along with the cards to move the group/individuals towards the learning objectives that you have designed the activity/program against. Your questions will be typically more specific than the example provided in the deck.
Our view of experiential learning tools, processes and activities are that they are structured experiences that allow learners to draw their own learning from being involved in something that is intended to direct them to think. In the words of Alexandra K. Trenfor, it is a method of supporting learning adopted by great teachers, who “show you where to look but don't tell you what to see.”
The experiential learning cycle involves four stages: experience, reflection, conceptualization and application. The words used in eaplaining this cyclet may differ but the learning process remains the same. In practical terms, this means having an experience, noticing what happens and thinking about it, making some personal sense and meaning from it and then using that new understanding to try out or test the learning in a new context. The cycle then repeats!
In our opinion, some trainers focus too much on the provision of the experience and not enough on the next three steps. The process of de-briefing/activity review is vital in ensuring that the cycle is completed and the learning is translated into practical actions or behavioural changes that can be integrated into future experience.
Chiji cards are designed to raise the quality of the de-brief or review.
Activity Contents: 48x playing card-sized images (3.5" x 2.5")
Directions/instructions card suggestion for facilitation of an activity review/processing session
Package Weight: 3 oz
Listed below are ideas to explore for other ways of using Chiji Cards
Introductions / Getting groups started
If you are a facilitator / trainer and are similar to ourselves, just occasionally you will have been in a room with a group and conversations are not flowing! Often this happens at the start of a day, when the individuals are just checking out the group and how they will contribute. Chiji cards are a great way of initiating conversations and discussions to help a natural flow into other ideas you may want to introduce. For example, avoid ‘creeping death introductions’ and layout a pack of cards and get individuals to pick a card which they think relates to them in some way, and use it to introduce themselves.
Personal Development / Coaching
You may be using this pack of cards as a personal development or coaching tool in a generic sense to assist individuals. This may be in a mentoring role, as a manager in business, as a Youth or Community Worker or simply with someone you would like to help. A sample question might be: 'Identify one card which represents where you are now, and one where you would like to be in the future.' Once they have chosen their cards, ask them to express their thoughts and feelings about the cards. Once this has been done you could ask the individual to identify a card which represents the first step on this journey.
Change is happening all the time, individuals are developing, organizations are changing, and global issues are affecting us all. Change management therefore is part of life and a subject which can be explored using Chiji cards. It is also worth considering whilst there is a lot of change, often a lot of things may stay the same. One idea might be to ask individuals / team / department prior to a change initiative to identify a card which represents the state of the organization now and another to show how they would like it to be in the future. This allows individuals to communicate effectively and safely how they feel about the change, which they might have avoided previously.
Leadership & Management Development
This is an important area of our work. Leaders and Managers need to help bring clarity to situations. Often they are not doing this, so some useful starting questions with which to use chiji cards in this area might include: 'Pick 3 cards which represent your vision / what is important to you in your role?'
In a similar way to our Leadership Development work any work with teams usually needs to focus initially on a clarity of joint understanding. A useful question depending upon the stage of team development might be: 'Pick a number of cards which illustrate your expectations of this team'. Chiji cards have a variety of images which have a variety of different metaphors relating to teams and team performance.
Reviewing & Giving Feedback
Individuals or teams may be reluctant to provide feedback or review an event / session truthfully, and chiji acts as a safe review activity. You may ask individuals to pick one image which represents how they felt before the session, and one representing how they felt after the session.
These are just a sample of uses for Chiji cards and check out the other visual metaphor cards we stock in our experiential learning image library.