What is reflecting?

Reflection is a process – a means by which we…
  • Thinking about…..
  • Pondering on…..
  • Asking ourselves questions about…..
  • Discussing with ourselves…back.png
  • Trying to work something out…..
  • Making sense of…
  • Learning from experience...
  • Help us plan for the future…..

Why reflect?
  • Turn experience into learning
  • Develop and understand your practice, decisions made, lessons learnt and implication of these for future practice
  • Ensure that teaching remains learner centred
  • Improve on your professional practice
  • Helps develop problem solving techniques

Reflective Practice

When we engage in reflective practice we are committed to improving our practice by closing the gap between the theory of what we do and the actions we take. The claims made for reflective practice are that the process can help improve the quality of our performance and can deepen our understanding, which in turn leads to personal and professional growth. Reflection is not simply mindfulness, though that is important, it is about taking action.
Reflection can be used in any work or educational setting, but is particularly powerful in professions where there are not ready answers to our daily practice. Nurses and teachers, for example, are constantly adapting and building on their experience as they apply their professional skills in the context of complex situations. All professions work within a code of ethics and practice but it is only by reflecting on their application in practice that we really understand how to apply these codes to our daily encounters with others.
Learning from experience is an essential element of developing expertise in these professions. There is no short-cut to learning in this way, it requires a particular kind of attention to incidents that may change or form our attitudes about our work. There is no 'right' way to become a reflective practitioner but in this topic, we will introduce you to approaches that will help you to find the way that suits you.
In everyday speech, reflection is akin to a mirror image, but reflective practice is more than recall or mirroring. It brings a particular focus to our experience - and we are at the centre of that picture. Only you can understand and unravel the meaning of an experience in the context of your own learning and professional understanding.

Models of Reflective Practice

Definition of Reflective practice : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice

Click on names below to learn more about the their Model


One of the most popular models for reflection, entailing a six step process which is one of the few models which take emotions into account.


In 1987, Donald Schon introduced the concept of reflective practice as a critical process in refining one's specific discipline. Schon recommended reflective practice as a way to recognize the differences between an individual’s practices and those of more successful practitioners. As defined by Schon, reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one's own experiences in applying


Kolb's learning theory sets out four preferences, which are based on a four-stage learning cycle or training cycle. In this respect Kolb's model is particularly elegant, since it offers both a way to understand individual people's different learning styles, and also an explanation of a cycle of experiential learning that applies to us all.


Driscolls model of reflection ...reflective learning is the process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience, which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self, and which results in a changed conceptual perspective.

Critical Incidents

One approach to reflective practice is to focus on 'critical incidents'* - moments or events when you have felt uncomfortable or challenged. By looking back and examining what happened, how you felt and what it meant, you may arrive at a new understanding of the incident. This learning is then integrated into your practice and it becomes part of your 'tacit knowledge'.

When looking at Critical incidents:
  • Step back explore and analyse your own role in the experience
  • Consider the different perspectives of other people involved
  • Make connections with relevant theories, supporting your ideas by reference to literature and research
  • Consider legal and organisational implications
  • Show awareness of social and political influences
  • Show what you have learned from the process.

Depth of the reflection

Research by Hatton and Smith (1995) suggests that reflection can be characterised by four levels.

Descriptive no discussion beyond description with no evidence of reflection

Descriptive reflective description of events with some evidence of deeper consideration in relatively descriptive language. No real evidence of alternative viewpoints.

Dialogic reflection There is a ‘stepping back’ from the events and actions which leads to different levels of discussion. A sense of ‘mulling over’ events is shown. Evaluation of judgements and a consideration of possible alternatives for explaining and hypothesising about them is shown. The reflection is analytical or integrative, linking factors and perspectives.

Critical Reflection aware that actions and events may be ‘located’ within and explained by multiple perspectives but are located in, and influenced by, different socio-political contexts.

It is easier to understand the differences between these levels if you see examples of reflective writing. Jenny Moon's work provides some interesting examples which you can see here or by downloading the resources at Escalate. Description is important to reflective writing, but the challenge, as Moon says, is to go further. By analysing the events you can integrate new knowledge with previous knowledge and develop your understanding.

Recipes for reflection

Some generic "recipes" for scaffolding reflection, courtesy of Montana State University Northern College of Education.
First Order/Second Order Model
Write about your topic as quickly as you can for ten to fifteen minutes without stopping. Let your thoughts flow uninhibited, and do not censor your writing. Include every thought that comes to mind without prejudging it. Your thoughts do not have to be complete, true, or even logical. Include all of your preconceived notions and biases. Also include all of the personal and emotional aspects of your “self” in this writing. Do not stop to consider spelling, grammar, or punctuation, and do not look back to make corrections. This is “first order” thinking, which is honest, intuitive, and creative. After you complete this exercise, react to what you have just written using “second order” thinking. Analyze the passage using your logic and critical thinking skills. You may also pay attention to organization, style, and mechanics in this section.
Cognitive, Affective, Psychomotor (CAP) Model
What do you notice?
What do you feel?
What do you question?
Countdown Model
State three ideas with which you agree.
State two ideas you are pondering.
State one idea that you challenge.
What? So What? Now What? Model
What? Describe the experience; outline what happened that compelled you to think about and change your behavior (i.e. learn). The “what?” component of reflections may include the environmental factors, the conditions or background under which you have learned, the assumptions that you entered the situation with, a description of the experience itself, and the outcomes that occurred through the process. What did you do?
So What? Describe what difference it makes; outline what impact or meaning it has for you (or why it should matter to others). The “so what?” component of reflections may include relevancies to you as an individual, the degree of importance that this knowledge has to practices in the “real world”, how the experience has changed you, and the ways in which this experience relates to you as a professional in the field of education. So What? How is this learning important?
Now What? Describe what’s in store for the future now that you’ve learned from this experience; outline what you are going to do to continue your professional development in light of this learning. The “now what?” component of reflections may include looking for future learning opportunities related to the one under consideration, mistakes that you are now prepared to avoid, situations that you are now prepared to take advantage of, an assessment of things that you as of yet do NOT know how to do but would like to, etc. Ok, now that you've done this, now what would you like to learn?

The reflective learning process – Monash University:

Guidelines for cultural exclusivity: