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 we consider a definition of reflective practice, there are many and wanted to share with you two that I think describe it well and I like:

‘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 practise, there are three levels.

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 model 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.

 ‘Gibbs 1988’

How is the development of reflective practice beneficial to our own professional development?

There are many benefits of reflective practise in the work place.

From helping to manage work stress and building emotional intelligence to enabling the development of critical thinking skills, reflective practise is important in maximising our career development.

Here are some of the benefits

  • 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 aspects of learning and development, reflective learning is very personal.

Developing your own individual approaches and learning, is the best way to maximise your progression.

Here are some great reflective practice techniques you can try:

  • 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

Is reflective practise too 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 is 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 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. https://www.leaplikeasalmon.com/sectors/

Many thanks

Karen Waite

Director Leap Like a Salmon


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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