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 Information about the Learning Survey


The Learning Survey is based on participants’ written learning reports in response to this question: “What am I learning in this guided autobiography workshop?”  Further information for the survey was provided by participants in their submitted final workshop session evaluation form and  group discussions about what their future goals were.  The Learning Survey provides a broader scope of the learning experiences and developmental exchanges that emerge in guided autobiography workshops and more comprehensive data for qualitative research studies.


This learning Survey is available for those offering Guided Autobiography workshops and want to collect information about their participant’s learning experiences in their workshops. The surveys potential use: (1) for a research study on learning in their workshops, or (2) for further review and discussion with participants in their workshops that might help enhance their workshop experiences.


 We are hoping to engage your cooperation in investigating the personal learning that results from participation in your Guided Autobiography workshop series.  To accomplish that, we’ve devised a short, one-page survey which we hope (1) you will complete for yourself and return to us – with comments; and (2) you will distribute the survey form to your workshop participants at the end of the workshop series, and forward to us as well.


The Personal Learning in Guided Autobiography Survey is designed to provide a closer examination of the various GAB features that contribute to participants’ learning – both personal and social.  Its focus is on various features of the “Developmental Exchanges” (Birren & Deutchman, 1991) in the workshop that are understood to be central to personal growth, development, and learning which makes Guided Autobiography a pivotal experience for so many of its participants.


The one-page Survey currently consists of 35 statements grouped into seven blocks of five statements each.  Early trials indicate that the Survey is easily completed in 10-12 minutes by most people.  GAB participants are invited to consider each statement and then to report how much personal learning has resulted from each one.  Participants report their answers on a fully-anchored 5-point letter scale of ‘amount of learning’ – unlike the weaker 1-5 or 1-7 scales which you may have seen elsewhere.


The current 35 items have been abstracted from three sources: (1) the Birren and Cochran text in Telling the Stories of Life, (1991); (2) summaries of previous participants’ written submissions reporting ‘What am I learning?’, and (3) participants written evaluations about the most and least satisfactory features of both small and large group sessions and their recommendations for improvements (Birren & Cochran, 1991, p.171-172).


We are very much aware that we may have missed certain critical features of guided autobiography’s role in participants’ learning – and trust that you will help us identify them.  Thus, we hope that you’ll complete the Survey and then add important things that we have missed in the spaces below and return your suggestions to us.

Personal Learning Survey





Please read each item carefully and decide how much personal learning results from each feature of GAB.

Each Q has 5 options:

  • No learning

  • A little learning

  • Moderate learning

  • Substantial learning

  • Pivotal learning

1. Committing myself to attend the workshops on guided autobiography *


2. Joining an adult group with common purposes and objectives in mind. *


3. Discussing experiences about life’s important lessons. *


4. Balancing insights between large-group and small-group experiences. *


5. Knowing the GAB structure for the overall workshops and for each week. *


6. Exchanging experiences with others in small group settings. *


7. Using theme handouts with sensitizing questions to stimulate my thinking. *


8. Listening to others in small groups explain how they met life’s challenges. *


9. Building my skills and confidence to tell my story better. *


10. Benefitting from a mix of ages, backgrounds and viewpoints. *


Reminder: This is a survey about learning. How much learning has resulted from each of these GAB features?

11. Meeting in large groups to mingle and discuss common topics. *


12. Realizing that my autobiography need not be chronological. *


13. Realizing that my personal development is continuous and ongoing. *


14. Gaining insights on how to express my ideas better. *


15. Personal soul-searching about what has been really important in life. *


16. Preparing my legacy for my children and grandchildren. *


17. Moving past the mental block of getting started with my writing. *


18. Writing weekly themes for sharing, reflection, and revision. *


19. Reading aloud and sharing selected sections of my written themes. *


20. Gaining a sense of bonding, camaraderie, and intimacy with others. *


21. Learning we all have common experiences despite different backgrounds. *


22. Exchanging ideas with the GAB workshop leader or facilitator. *


23. Clarifying my goals and aspirations. *


24. Gaining the sense of group trust, confidentiality and security. *


25. Discovering new opportunities for learning in my future. *


26. Using others’ comments as a ‘mirror’ to examine my personal history. *


27. Resolving issues and ‘hang-ups’ from my past. *


28. Listening to feedback from others to revise and refine my writing. *


29. Using a set of ‘writing tips’ to help develop my ideas in written form. *


30. Coming to feel ‘special as a person’ as a result of the workshops. *


31. Learning to show and receive acceptance without judgement. *


32. Tracing my development as a unique person. *


33. Summarizing and submitting my own ideas about “What am I learning?”. *


34. Discussing ideas and suggestions about “Where to go from here”. *


35. Recognizing that life’s most important themes are shared by everyone. *


A bit of anonymous background information:

Are you:




Email Address:


How many previous GAB workshops have you attended?


How many previous GAB workshops have you Conducted?


Have you attended a ‘Train the Trainer’ GAB workshop?


Suggestions for important Survey topics that should also be included:


Thank you for helping! You can contact us at:




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