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Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice: this short article explains Reflective Practice in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition), this article also highlights the importance of personal growth, practical training, various theories and models. Enjoy reading!

Reflective Practice: this short article explains Reflective Practice in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition), this article also highlights the importance of personal growth, practical training, various theories and models. Enjoy reading!

What is Reflective Practice? The definition

Reflective practice can be defined as the human ability to evaluate one’s own behavior and reflect on actions. Reflective practice is about adopting a critical attitude toward one’s own practice and that of colleagues. It is an ongoing process that involves learning and gaining new insights.

Personal Growth

Some define reflective practice as “paying critical attention to practical values and theories that underlie daily action by reflectively examining situations or practices”. Reflective practice is founded on the belief that experiences alone do not necessarily lead to learning, but that conscious reflection is essential.

It is an important tool in a variety of practice-based professional environments and fields. In practice-based environments, learning occurs through experience, rather than formal learning or one-way knowledge transfer, such as in a lecture hall.

Practical training

It is also an important method of connecting theory and practice, for example through role-playing. An example of this is role plays conducted at the police academy. Through simulated scenarios and the reflection on them, aspiring officers are trained before they start working on the streets.

A person performing reflective practice reflects not only on the event or action itself, but also on additional emotions and reactions. The information is added to the existing ‘knowledge base’.

Theories and models of reflective practice

One of the first academic works to speak of reflective practice is the 1983 book The Reflective Practitioner, by Donald Schön. In this book, concepts of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action are discussed. However, the underlying concepts are older.

John Dewey was one of the first to write about them. This was followed by influential researchers such as Kurt Lewin and Jean Piaget. Reflective practice possibly goes back even further. Some researchers think they have found fundamentals of it in Buddhist teachings and in the works of the philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Learning theorist and educational pioneer David Kolb was also heavily influenced by the work of John Dewey and Jean Piaget.

Kolb’s reflective model emphasizes the concept of learning through experience and focuses on the transformation of knowledge and information. This always takes place after a situation has occurred and can only happen when a person actively reflects on it. In this way, knowledge gained from an experience is continuously adapted and reapplied, building on previous experiences.

Why is reflecting important?

David Boud defines reflecting as “an important human activity in which people recapture, reflect on, and evaluate their experiences”.

When a person experiences something, a person can learn immediately, but it is difficult to immediately evaluate all emotions, events, and thoughts. When a person recalls the event at a later time, it is possible to categorize and evaluate the emotions and thoughts though. By stepping back and looking at the experience from a broader perspective, it is possible to critically reflect on things that may not have been immediately apparent at first glance.

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Reflective practice in education

In education, reflective practice is a popular method for improving the quality of teaching by teachers. Educators often spend time evaluating their own lessons, examining different teaching methods, considering student feedback, and making changes to ensure that students can learn more effectively and efficiently.

The process of reflective practice in teaching requires gathering information, interpreting it, and adjusting planning for the future.

Teachers can use a variety of methods to reflect on the teaching they have provided. For example, there are:

  • Feedback from students
  • Feedback and observations from fellow teachers
  • Personal experiences
  • Theory and research

Kurt Lewin biography, change theory and books

July 4th, 2024

Kurt Lewin (1890 – 1947) was a German-American psychologist, who is known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational and applied psychology. He is recognized as the founder of the first study group dynamics and organizational development. Famous…

Borton’s Model of Reflection (1970) explained

May 14th, 2024

Borton’s model of reflection: this article explains Borton’s model of reflection, developed in 1970 by Terry Borton in a practical way. In addition to what this reflection method is, this article also highlights the importance of reflecting, the three phases…

John Driscoll Model of Reflection

December 27th, 2023

John Driscoll Model of Reflection: this article provides a practical explanation of the John Driscoll Model of Reflection, developed by John Driscoll. Next to what it is, this article also highlights the steps, the practice, consequences of a…

Personal Reflection 2023

December 24th, 2023

The end of the year makes for a good time to reflect on the past year and look back on your wins, successes and breakthroughs of 2023. It is also helpful to reflect on any setbacks and lessons learned, in…
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