What is reflective practice?
It may seem strange to consider reflection as a skill, however, when you consider that it is an active process, that requires effort and practice, it will change your perception from seeing reflection as a surface-level reaction to a more considered and deeper thought process that really is a skill that should be developed.
When it comes to considering a definition of reflective practice, there are many. We want to share two with you that we think describes it well.
Defining reflective practice:
‘A means of learning from experience, bridging the gap between theory and practice, coping with ambiguity and change, and developing critical awareness’ Knasel, Meet & Rossetti (2000) Learn for your life: FT Prentice Hall
‘The learner is willing extensively to modify their cognitive structure and is able to evaluate the sources of their knowledge and their process of learning’ Moon JA (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning – Theory and Practice.
As with many forms of practice, there are three levels of reflective practice.
1) Descriptive – what happened
2) Descriptive reflection – what happened and why it happened
3) Critical reflection – reflecting from multiple perspectives and the influences of the context.
A well known and effective model is that of ‘Gibbs’ where he details a cycle of reflective practice that allows learners to transform their perception on reflection by following a simple reflective cycle.
Below is the Gibbs model of reflection and you will see it goes beyond the basic description of what happened and involves feelings, evaluation of the experience, analysis, conclusion and most importantly action plan to ensure you either continue the good practice or learn from it.
The Gibbs Model of Reflection
To the right is the Gibbs model of reflection and you will see it goes beyond the basic description of what happened and involves feelings, evaluation of the experience, analysis, conclusion and most importantly action plan to ensure you either continue the good practice or learn from it.
How is the development of reflective practice beneficial to our own professional development?
There are many benefits of reflective practice in the workplace.
From helping to manage work stress and building emotional intelligence to enabling the development of critical thinking skills, reflective practice is important in maximising our career development.
Here are some of the benefits of reflective practice:
- Building self-awareness
- Creating willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes
- Creating flexibility and creativity
- Developing interest in learning and development
- Building connections
Like any other aspect of learning and development, reflective learning is very personal. Developing your individual approach and learning from it is the best way to maximise your progression.
Want to try reflective practice? Here are some great reflective practice techniques you can try. See which ones work best for you:
- Notebook, audio, electronic and shared devices
- Revisiting past events, learning to identify patterns and changing perspectives
- Following learning cycles e.g. Gibbs model of reflection
- Asking yourself questions e.g. What? So What? What next?
- Recognising emotional triggers
Start your reflection journey. Download our free reflection worksheet today
Is reflective practice time-consuming?
The combination of the ever-increasing technological advances in society combined with our constant access to emails, telephone/video calls and social media interactions are causing the time we spend on reflection to be reduced.
As a result, reflection can sometimes be viewed as complex and even worse, a ‘waste of time.’
Reflective learning does not necessarily require recording, however, in the context of continuing professional development (CPD), records within an organisation, create the opportunity to reflect on progress, review your current position and develop a plan.
Overall it is clear, reflective practice can be viewed as a skill.
If you allow yourself to recognise the reflection as a skill, naturally you will give it more time and attention and before you know it, your learning and development will transform. So what are you going to reflect on?
We welcome any feedback and please do let us know your experience of reflection, particularly using the Gibbs model.
Also please do remember, we have a team of experts who you have access to for FREE so take advantage and ask them a question.
Gibbs Model of reflective practice
Knasel, Meet & Rossetti (2000) Learn for your life: FT Prentice Hall
Moon JA (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning – Theory and Practice
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