Reflective Practice

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Discovering Reflective Practice

Dewey (1933) identified the three characteristics or attitudes of people who are reflective as; open-mindedness, responsibility and wholeheartedness. At a basic level models of reflection exist to provide guidance to help us look back over events that have happened and to turn them into learning experiences.

In essence models of reflection help us to:

  1. Look at an event
  2. Understand it
  3. Learn from it

The models provide different ways of looking back over events and learning from them and aim to show us how to be reflective practitioners. As a reflective practitioner you will look at events in your everyday practice and think: "How could I have done that better?" You will be aware of the impact your preconceptions and personal beliefs have on your understanding of events and on your reaction to them. You will action plan in preparation for future events.

There are lots of models which describe how we should/could look back over our experiences and learn from them. Each model outlines a number of steps. Some think a 1-stage model (simply that experience alone is sufficient for learning) is adequate for reflection to occur, others outline in great detail a range of steps that should be gone through. Most involve a cycle where by an action is undertaken, reflected upon, reviewed, improved then back to the beginning with a refined action.

Reflective cycle.svg

Diagram: The Reflective Cycle, accessed 5.10.10

Ways to Practice Reflection

  • Personally
  • As a team exercise with one person given the chance to reflect and the others asking questions to guide the process.


Example of Reflective Cycle: Health Visitor Case Study Situation and worked example PDF