Understanding Reflective Models
A model of reflection is a step-by-step method for analyzing and improving one’s own or one’s condition. The concept of reflection stresses awareness of one’s own knowledge, prior experiences, and beliefs.
Understanding Reflective Models
All Higher Education Institutions are required to offer students the opportunity
to engage in Personal Development Planning (PDP) during their time at university.
(This requirement for PDP emerged from the recommendations of the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education,1997).
Reflection can be seen to be one of the key strategic processes for Personal Development Planning (PDP).
It is viewed as an important life skill which enhances professional lifelong learning (Fook, 2006).
The most widely accepted definition of PDP is that of the Quality Assurance Agency,
which defines PDP as: “structured and supported processes to develop the capacity
of individuals to reflect on their own learning and achievement,
and to plan for their own personal and educational and career development.” (QAA 2001).
What is Reflection
- Reflection means learning from our past practices and experiences for the future practices or events.
- Reflective writing means writing about how an event changed you or how you have learnt from the past event/practice/experience
- Experience alone is not enough, you need to learn from the experience.
- We learn from experiences by considering what went well and what could have done better.
- Reflection is a natural activity which individuals engage in to a greater or lesser extent (Cottrell, 2003).
- Simply put this is when we review and question what we see, hear, learn and experience to improve our understanding (Schon, 1987).
Reflective Models / Frameworks
- Reflective models suggest ways of structuring reflection to allow examination of an experience from different perspectives.
- They offer a framework to aid reflection – trying out different frameworks will aid identification of the most useful for a particular situation.
- Atkins and Murphy (1993) identify three stages that are mentioned in all reflective models – awareness of uncomfortable feelings; analysis of feelings and knowledge and new perspectives.
- Gibb’s model is outlined here, but there are many different ones within the literature.
Gibbs Reflection Steps
1. Description: What happened, When happened, Who was involved (Do not conclude)
2. Feelings: Just describe your feelings and do not evaluate. How did you feel before, during, after the event. What did other feel during the event and now.
3. Evaluation: What went well and What didn’t.
4. Analyze: Think why things went well and why didn’t go well. This will allow you to identify different options for better outcomes in the future.
5. Conclusion: Based on the analysis, write what will you do differently next time. How can you avoid the weakness. What else you need to do to improve.
6. Action Plan: Specific plan of action based on conclusion.
- Description : Last Monday I was giving a presentation to the board. The purpose of the presentation was to provide an update my department’s progress in the previous quarter. During the presentation the finance director ask me question of the figures, and I got flustered. He already didn’t agree with the direction of my presentation. A big debate ensured, and I didn’t even complete my presentation.
- Feelings: In the lead up to the presentation, I felt very nervous as it’s not every day I give a presentation to the leadership team. I felt panicked when asked the numbers of questions. I felt like an idiot when my time was up.
- Evaluation: On the positive side, I managed to handle questions raised by the marketing directors. However, I couldn’t answer the finance director questions on the figures. Also, I couldn’t complete the presentation on time.
- Analysis : I was able to handle marketing director queries well because I had a chance to chat with him before the presentation and gave him a copy of the presentation. I now realised I should have given a copy of the presentation to each member of leadership team in advance of the presentation. I also should have followed up with each of them in person to check that they didn’t take issue with anything I was going to present. This would have also helped me to calm my pre-presentation nerves.
- Conclusion : In my next presentation, I will ensure I provide a copy of the presentation to each team leader in advance of the presentation.
- Action Plan : Distribute the presentation to key stakeholder in advance, Run through the plan with anyone who might have an issue with it.
Types of Reflection
There are two main types of reflection and these are;
- Reflection-In-Action: This takes place while you are still involved with the situation. It is more like ‘thinking on your feet’ but the idea is on learning new knowledge rather than solving a problem. E.g., learning during the teaching session
- Reflection-On-Action: This means a reflection taking place after the situation has happened. Stepping back and thinking about what happened.
- So the obvious difference between the two is when they happened.
So, What is Reflective Writing?
- looks back at past experience to perform better in the future
- analyses, explores and explains what happened and why
- usually incorporates models or theory (e.g., Gibbs)
- uses academic language
- considers strengths, weaknesses, anxieties and errors — you can use personal language such as ‘I’ and ‘we’ to talk about observations, emotions and feelings
- is constructively criticising yourself, an event and others
- requires evidence to support what you are saying such as things that have been said or done, their causes and their effects — so you need clear records of the events and your thoughts
The purpose of feedback is to remove the discrepancy between the learners’ current understanding, performance and the goal.
So, a feedback mainly serves two purposes:
1. It aims to let learners know how well they have performed.
2. It provides learners with advice, supports, and ideas to improve in the future(Hattie and Timperley (2007)
How to Interpret and Reflect on a Feedback
- Description: Write what happened, when happened, who was involved
- Feelings: Describe your feelings and do not evaluate. How did you feel before, during, after the event. What did other feel during the event and now.
- Evaluation: Understand the strengths and weaknesses highlighted in your feedback .
- Analyse: Think about the underlying reasons of your strengths and weaknesses. It means why did you do well and why you could not do well. This will allow you to identify different options for better outcomes in the future.
- Conclusion: Based on the analysis, write what will you do differently next time. How can you avoid the weakness. What else you need to do to improve.
- Action Plan: Specific plan of action based on conclusion