DeM Debriefing Model

DeM Debriefing Model

We made a synthesis of the above models to make sure that the debriefing touches at not only every stage of the experiential learning cycle but each step of the learning styles in detail.

We have renamed this synthesis with reference to the steps we followed in youth work and the terms we used and developed the “DeM Debriefing Model”.

DeM Debriefing Model

DeM Debriefing Model consists of two parts.

Experiential Input -> Remembering + Reflecting = Conceptualization
Conceptual Input -> Associating + Transforming = Planning

These steps can be performed in the same session one after the other, or can also be done using different methods in different sessions according to length.


Remembering Experience

What did you feel? What happened? What did you observe?

Reflecting the Experience

Why did you feel like that? Why were the process and result like that?

From Experience to New Concepts

What does this experience tell us?


Associating Concepts

What practical connection do you see between your theory and experience?

Transforming the Reality

What is its relationship with your real life? What can you do differently?

From Concepts to New Experiences

What can you do in the future to be better?


As Kolb (1984) says, learning does not always occur from the experience itself. We also need to learn how to learn from experience.

The aim of the debriefing is to reach new learning outcomes on the basis of an experience. Experiential learning games designed in this framework can be transformed into profound learning through good debriefing.

Even though we use the experiential learning games in the cycle as “experiential input”, we should also consider that real experiences may also take place in this section. We must not forget that the goal of the game is to make the participant experience. In this sense, if there is a real experience that can be debriefed, the experiential learning cycle can be run again with these debriefing steps. For example, if participants have recently had an experience as a group, that experience can be debriefed together in the circle.

In order to debrief in the experiential learning process, playing games are not absolutely necessary.

1. Remembering – Remembering the Experience

It is usually useful to start the debriefing with the emotions. During the experience process, the participants have experienced very different moods and reflected their feelings to their decisions and behaviors without even realizing it. Participants need to relax expressing their accumulating feelings. . Damasio, LeDoux, Zull and others (as cited in Kolb & Kolb 2013) offer convincing research evidence that reason and emotion are inextricably related in their influence on learning and memory. Therefore, it is very important to express what is felt in order to make an analysis about the emotions later and to be able to make connections between the emotions and causes. It is useful to remember what happened before analyzing what happened during the game. At this point, the participants are asked what happened step by step, from the beginning to the end of the game. Despite the fact that the experience is common, different comments are made about what happened, which helps the participants to look at what happened from different windows. During the experience, the participants make both inside and outside observations. For this reason, while asking what happened, the participants are asked both what they did and their observations of what others did. At this stage, what happened during the experience are almost divided into pieces and made ready to be analyzed. The basic question in this step is “What?”

Debriefing Questions:

  •  What do you feel now?
  •  Was it all clear to you after listening to the instructions of the game?
  •  What did you expect to happen before the game started?
  •  What did you feel during the game?
  •  What happened? What did you do?
  •  What were others doing? What did you observe?
  •  What did you feel?
  •  What did you think?


  • Participants may tend to talk directly about the experience they lived and even to share the inferences they have. In such situations, you can say that you are going to proceed in steps and you want to hear the emotions first.
  • It may not be easy for every participant to directly share what they feel in the circle. Hence, first, you can get the feelings from everybody saying “can I hear what you are feeling now, in a word?”
  • You should plan the duration of this section, taking into account that the participants may need to express their feelings after emotionally intense experiences.
  • You must pay great attention to that the feelings shared during emotion sharing are not judged or disrespected by others.
  • The game has its own stages. It would be useful to ask what happened in chronological order according to these stages.

Methods to Deepen this Phase:

  • Drama
  • Painting
  • Music
  • Reflection Groups
  • Playback Theatre
  • Small Group
  • Exercises

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2.Reflecting – Reflecting the Experience

This is the stage in which the abstract conceptualization section in the experiential learning cycle is prepared. At this stage, the experience is analyzed with appropriate questions. Therefore, the more precise the feelings and observations are taken in the first stage; the easier it is to question them. What is important at this point is that the participant is now completely alienated from the experiment and questions from the outside objectively. Participants are expected to express their own views on the causes and effects of what happened. The basic question in this step is “Why?”

Debriefing Questions:

  • Why did you feel like that?
  • Why do you think you had these experiences?
  • Why did you act like that?
  • Why did others behave like that?
  • What are the reasons for this result?


  • Participants may be inclined to go directly into the conceptualization phase, so you can ask them to be a bit more patient.
  • Any discussion or conflict that occurred in the game can be reopened in this section. You must certainly interrupt at this point, remind that the experience is a tool and pull the participants back to a meta-cognitive point. In order to prevent such situations, cleaning the character after the game is very  important for this reason.

Methods to Deepen this Phase:

  • Problem Tree
  • Analysis
  • Discussion Games
  • Brainstorming
  • Mapping

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3. Conceptualization – From Experience to New Concepts

In this phase, participants are asked to think about what they have learned from their experience and the analysis made on the experience, and what conclusions they have reached. This point is where new knowledge, new awareness, and new concepts have been reached by means of blending experience, ob-
servation and concepts. It is very important that the participants share their conclusions with the group because each individual might have different conc-
lusions, and as they are shared, the group has many more conclusions.

Debriefing Questions:

  • What does this experience and what we talked about, tell us?
  • What conclusions do you get from all these experiences and our discussions?
  • What do these conversations mean to you in real life?
  • What would you do differently if you played this game once more?


  • The word “learning” may not mean the same for everybody. Some participants can see learning only as getting information.
  • For this reason, you can refer to the Triangle of Competences either earlier or later at this point in the program. (Knowledge, Skill, Attitude)
  • You can ask the participants’ conclusions (depending on the theme of your training) in categories such as human behaviors, social relations, economics, politics, and philosophy.

Methods to Deepen this Phase:

  • Individual
  • Reflecting
  • Exercises
  • Self-evaluation
  • ReflectingGroups
  • Drama
  • Painting

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This section has a highly important place in the experiential learning cycle. While varying with the profile and age of your target group, and session time, the experience must be associated with the existing concepts in all cases.

Reflecting only the emotions and sharing limited inferences may leave the closing of the experiential learning cycle incomplete.

These conceptual inputs may be comprehensive theories, models, as well as conceptual information that the participants have and that may vary according to the target group and subject. For example, sharing information about theories of democracy in the debriefing of a democracy-themed experience with adults will deepen the conceptualization. In addition, in a hygiene-themed game activity applied with children, they might be asked questions for other information they know about health and diseases and again may be related to hygiene.

Conceptual information does not have to be shared after the game and the subsequent reflection. The recollection of a topic that the participants have already read, studied in class, or searched can also be evaluated in this section. For example, a book read before coming to the training program can be reminded in the debriefing phase of the game, and the conceptual information from it can be associated with the game and real life.

We can not say that every trainer who practices experiential learning must have the expertise to convey conceptual information at the same time, however, in an experiential learning-based program, there must be a section in which conceptual information is searched/shared.

4. Associating – Associating the Concepts

In this section, the theories and concepts and models related to the session and the program topic are shared. For example, after a game of teamwork, the “Tuckman’s Team Development Model” can be shared at this stage of the debriefing. Or, if a game about conflict management has been played, “Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Resolution Model” can be shared at this stage. This section is the stage at which conceptualization reaches the highest level. At this point, the participants should associate their experiences with the game and their expressions in the reflection phase with the concepts you are sharing.

Debriefing Questions:

  • How do you see the connection between what this theory/concept/ information say and the experience you had?
  • Which of these conceptual propositions do your behaviors fit? Which do your behaviors not fit?
  • Which of the sayings of this conceptual information, if you had done, the game could have been different?
  • Will this concept help you to be more competent in this matter?


  •  You can use schematic models when talking about concepts.
  •  Try to avoid telling an overlong theory in a short session.
  •  Share at least 2 concepts related to the subject, if possible.
  •  You must state the owners of the original concepts that you share and provide references.
  •  Suggest resources and methods for those who want to have more information on the subject.

Methods to Deepen this Phase:

  • Presentations
  • Readings
  • Expert Speakers
  • Article Reviews
  • Individual or Group Studies

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5. Transforming – Transforming the Reality

A growth producing experience in the philosophy of experiential learning refers not just to a direct experience related to a subject matter under study but to
the total experiential life space of the learner. This includes the physical and social environment and the quality of relationships (Kolb & Kolb 2013). For
this reason, the training subject should be related not only to the experience in the learning game but also to the participant’s own experiences. Participants
need to think and plan how they will use their knowledge and skills that they obtained in practice.

Debriefing Questions:

  •  Do you think all of these inferences also cover other issues in real life?
  •  Do you have similar difficulties in your real life?
  •  Where can we use these learnings in your life?
  •  What benefits may arise if you apply or be able to apply what you learned?
  •  Do you feel the motivation to make a learning plan?


  • Considering the dimensions in Kolb’s “Learning Space Model”, you can make it easier for your participants to relate to their own reality. (Physical, cultural, institutional, social, psychological fields)
  • The experiential learning cycle is like an unremitting spiral. Naturally, participants need to connect their previous experiences, what they have learned today and their new experiences tomorrow.

Methods to Deepen this Phase:

  • Individual Reflecting
  • Exercises
  • Reflecting Groups
  • Small Group
  • Exercises
  • Brainstorming
  • Real Life Stories
  • Case Studies

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6.Planning – From Concepts to New Experiences

In order for the experiential learning cycle to continue again with a new experience in a more advanced manner, you should help your participants plan how

they will develop themselves in what they learned/realized. You can use the following template to facilitate this planning process.

Learning Objectives Plan




        What action should I take now?

How do I start?

Where are the opportunities?

Can I take a chance on this?

       Am I experiencing the issue in the present?

       What is my intuition telling me?

        What are the others feeling about this?

        Where is my attention now?


What are the possibilities?

What is my vision?

How do I feel about this situation?

What do others think?

What do I imagine will happen?




       How can I implement this plan?

       How much time do I have?

       What resources do I need?

       What are the next steps?

       Who can help me in moving this forward?


       Is there a blind spot?

      Have I considered all possibilities, and weighed           all options?

      Do I need to change my approach?

       What is another way of looking at this?

What are my assumptions?

       What information is most meaningful?

       What else do I need to consider?




       What is my goal?

       What is the cost/benefit analysis?

       How can I solve this problem?

       What is my decision?

       What is working, or not working?

       What is the bottom line?


       Am I being objective?

       What do the numbers tell me?

       Am I accurate? And thoughtful?

       Have I put my feelings aside?

        Is this a logical approach?

       Can I create a scenario about what will happen?

       What strategies do I need?

        What is my plan?

        Is my reasoning conceptually sound?

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