Reflective Practice: Thinking About the Way You Do Things - Effectiviology - Deepstash
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Reflective practice is vital for improvement

Reflective practice is vital for improvement

Reflective practice helps you to improve and develop. It involves deliberately analysing your experiences and actions.

For example:

  • An athlete thinks about what mistakes they made during a training session, then consider ways to avoid those mistakes in the future.
  • A student reflects on how they studied for a test, how they performed, and then figure out how to study more effectively.


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Benefits of reflective practice

The most notable benefits are:

  • Acquisition of new knowledge.
  • Refinement of existing knowledge.
  • A better understanding of the connections between theory and practice.
  • A greater understanding of the rationale behind your actions.
  • Improvement of your goals.
  • A clearer understanding of yourself.
  • Increased feelings of competence.
  • High motivation to act.
  • Improved performance.


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How to engage in reflective practice

There are different approaches to reflective practice. One way to engage in reflective practice is to ask guiding questions. In the context of a recent event, ask yourself:

  • How did I feel while the event was happening?
  • What were my goals?
  • What were the key things I did?
  • What went well?
  • What did not work?
  • What should I do the same way next time?
  • What should I change next time?

You can also engage in reflective practice through reflective writing, which can take various forms.


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Graham Gibbs' reflective cycle

The reflective cycle is a process that guides reflective practice through the following steps:

  1. Describe what happened without judgment or analysis.
  2. Define how you felt, what you were thinking, and how you feel now, but without judgment.
  3. Evaluate everything that happened, the good and the bad.
  4. Analyse the situation to make sense of everything that occurred.
  5. Draw conclusions based on the information you gathered so far.
  6. Figure out what you will do differently next time.


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Types of reflection

There are three main types of reflection:

  1. Anticipatory reflection: Reflection that's performed before an event occurs involves asking what might happen, possible challenges, how you can prepare and how you should respond.
  2. Reflection in action: Reflection that you do while an event is happening - asking whether things are going as expected, how you're feeling.
  3. Reflection after action: Reflection that you carry out after an event has occurred.


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Using self-distancing to help reflection

Self-distancing may be beneficial to help in the reflection process.

  • Ask yourself what advice you would give someone else if they were in your situation?
  • Avoid first-person language when considering your performance (Ask yourself, "what could you have done differently?" instead of "what could I have done differently?)
  • Try to visualise the events you were in from the perspective of other people involved.


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Reflective practice as a shared activity

A shared reflective activity can take various forms, such as discussing your experiences with other people or having someone with expertise ask you guiding questions to help you reflect.

A shared reflective practice can be beneficial as a group might help to identify more issues that individuals would fail to notice. But the process can also be more stressful for shy people.


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How to encourage reflective practice in others

  • Start by explaining the concept of reflective practice.
  • Explain the benefits of reflective practice.
  • Explain how to engage in reflective practice.

Once you've done this, create an environment conducive to reflective practice while keeping in mind that different people will benefit from different approaches. For example, some people may benefit from having someone helping them through each stage of the reflection cycle, while others may do it independently.


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Related concepts to reflective practice

Two concepts that are considered in relation to reflective practice are:

  • Reflexivity - people's ability and tendency to display general self-awareness,
  • Critical reflection - an in-depth type of reflection, which is being aware of how your assumptions affect you, and examining your actions and responsibilities from moral, ethical, and social perspectives.


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