“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflection on experience”
What is Reflective Practice?
“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.
Reflection is deliberate and intentional. It is a process that we consciously undertake, in the professional sense, in order to take stock of our practice by interpreting, analysing, and questioning the way we work. It is the first step in the process of looking at ourselves critically, questioning all the assumptions that we have been operating on, and refashioning, reformulating, and reinventing the way we do things (Reale 2017).
Reflection enables us to:
* Stand back from and think about an experience and our role in a situation
* Find new perspectives
* Make sense of our experiences
* Raise self-awareness
* Learn from our experiences
As you experience reflection, 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”
(Boyd & Fales 1983)
At DkIT Library, we have a Libguide on Reflective Practice which you can access here.