Approaches to Reflection and Reflective Practices


Whitehead and Mason in their Study Skills for Students (2003) suggest some activities a student might engage in to achieve more
effective reflective practice.
-develop self
-awareness by taking time to consider and understand
your own thoughts and actions
-reflect on critical events on a regular basis, so that it becomes
integral to your thinking
-practice new clinical skills and apply methods of reflection to
develop your leaning experience
-spend time with your mentor to work towards learning being a joint
-gain new knowledge of reflective practice through reading,
attending seminar and conferences
-learn from feedback from supervisor
-address particular challenges which may arise through discussions
and tutorials
-discuss informally the experiences of reflective practice with fellow


So the basic skill involved in reflection is to develop self awareness based on attending to feelings and attitudes by dealing with negative feelings and building on the positive, this is a cyclical process.
What do we mean by reflection in an educational sense? Jennifer Moon (1999) maintains:
‘The act of reflecting is one which causes us to make sense of what we’ve learned, why we learned it, and how that particular increment of learning took place. Moreover, reflection is about linking one increment of learning to the wider perspective of learning – heading towards seeing the bigger picture.’

Reflection helps raise our awareness of ourselves as learners and to see that we can direct and change our learning. Biggs takes this one step further and points out: ‘A reflection in a mirror is an exact replica of what is in front of it. Reflection in professional practice, however, gives back not what it is, but what might be, an improvement on the original.’ (Biggs, 1999). In other words reflection is not simply about acknowledging who we are and what went wrong but who we might become. It is a transformational process.

Laurillard (1993) draws a distinction between mediated learning (aided by a teacher) and non-mediated learning (experiential). Reflection can help to supplement mediated learning by helping the individual to make connections between the theory and constructs they have learnt formally . If we take driving a car as an example, the driver becomes more accomplished if she can make a connection between the learning theory and highway code mediated by the driving instructor and the process of changing gear, steering and road awareness. Reflection can also enhance un-mediated learning by providing a structure and framework by which the individual can ‘unpack’ an experience and consider the implications of what has happened
Biggs, J and Collis, K (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO Taxonomy, (New York: Academic Press)
Biggs, J (1999) Teaching for quality learning at university (Buckingham: Open University Press)
Laurillard, D (1993) Rethinking university teaching: a framework for the effective use of educational technology (London: Routledge)
Moon, J (1999a) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development, Theory and Practice (London: Kogan Page)


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