Understanding reflective practice
A guide to understanding and applying reflective practice, using reflective models and seeing the value of reflection.
How can i show my understanding of reflective practice and writing?
Reflective practice is something which is prevalent in many disciplines, including (but not limited to) teaching, nursing and business roles: its aim is to promote practice-based learning, rather than academic formal learning. Many professions in which reflective practice is a key component can evolve and change at a rapid pace, therefore a commitment to lifelong learning to keep up with any fundamental shifts is pivotal to ensure good practice throughout a career. The purpose of practicing reflectively is to actively consider the actions you undertake; thinking in more detail about certain events or approaches leads to evaluation, identifying what went well and what could be improved in future. Doing this continuously will lead to a stronger awareness of potential problems and will raise the quality of practice, as the practitioner will be conscious of previous experiences and what they learned from them. It often helps for practitioners to write down their reflections, as this helps to organise thoughts more clearly and means that a record of previous experiences is always available to refer back to. When reflecting in writing, using a structured ‘model’ is helpful; some of the most common include Gibbs’ reflective cycle (1988), Kolb and Fry (1975) and Argyris and Schon (1978). Each model has a slightly different structure, but the basic premise is that the writer applies the event on which they are reflecting to each stage. The models prompt the practitioner to identify certain factors and to consider how a better outcome could prevail should the same incident occur again. In written reflections, engaging with academic theory on the subject is also encouraged as a way to link ‘expert’ knowledge with personal practice. Overall, reflective practice is important because it enables professionals to continually assess their skills and development needs, therefore enabling better practice.