“Reflective practice is learning and developing through examining what we think happened on any occasion, and how we think others perceived the event and us, opening our practice to scrutiny by others . . .” (G Bolton, Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development p.7)

Looking at a dictionary, reflection might be defined as:

To mirror

To look back

To cast a light on

To meditate

As you experience it you will also realise that learning happens in lots of ways – from your reading, from information and facts for example.

We can also learn from our experience and in reflection, our experience is essentially what we work with.

Reflection, therefore, involves our experience and our thoughts, hunches and feelings about this experience.

Furthermore, Reflective Practice asks us to take this and to suspend our habitual thoughts and assumptions and to examine experience in an open way. Sometimes we need to repeatedly examine a context in order to see differently.

Reflection also usually invites us to become more honest with ourselves about our behaviour and our way of seeing and thinking.

As it works we often develop the capacity to see ourselves in the act or moment, to become aware of our actions and also being able to see them.

What distinguishes Reflective Practice is that it requires an openness, a willingness to notice our ways of thinking and seeing, to become aware of these and then to re-examine experience. A number of practices exist to support this such as journaling, critical questions, drawing and storyboarding.

Reflection lets us examine our actions, see ourselves in new ways and to learn from this. This might create a change in behaviour, practice or our thinking.

A definition of reflection captures these aspects:

“The process of creating and clarifying the meaning of experience (past and present) in terms of self (self in relation to self and self in relation to the world). The outcome of the process is changed conceptual perspective” E M Boyd & A A Fales, (1983) ‘Reflective Learning: key to learning from experience’ Jnl Humanistic Psychology Vol 23 No 2, pp99 – 117


At DkIT Library, we have a Libguide on Reflective Practice which you can access here:

How is professional development enacted

The key competencies for library staff

Is professional development valued?

PD for recruitment and promotion of library staff

What is a teaching philosophy?

Can a teaching philosophy be arrived at from a collective / department level?

What are the benefits of having a teaching philosophy statement for library staff

The potential of the PDF for library staff

Are there skills of librarians not covered in the PDF?