Brief information on models of reflection

Models of reflection
There are many models of reflection. In essence they are all based around the one idea of looking at something, thinking about why it is as it is and then deciding what to do next time.  However a variety of authors have worked on these ideas and come up with models which ask questions or have a cyclical approach.  Some seem very complicated and have rather obscure language but if you always come back to the idea that it's about thinking hard about something and figuring out why it is as it is you can't go far wrong.

You may find that using one helps you to focus on what you want to consider. It’s hard to confront a blank piece of paper or your blank mind and know where to start so a model can help you. All have ideas in common and all are cyclical in nature so that when you reach the end of a cycle you can start again. Three of the most popular models are by Johns, Driscoll and Gibbs. They all have benefits and disadvantages so you need to try them out to see what suits you. All models ask you to consider the same things, what happened, what was important about it, why it happened as it did and what if anything would you do next time. Really the most important point is what can you learn from this? How does what you learn affect your practice?

An example of Johns (1995) model is given later as an exercise. It is quite structured and asks a list of questions. Driscoll's (1994) model is a simplified version of that by Boud, Keogh and Walker (1985). Because it is just three questions, What? So what? and Now what?, it does look very simple but it is best suited to the more experienced reflector who needs or likes less direction.

Gibbs (1988) is a very popular model perhaps because it is obviously cyclical.

Gibbs' model of reflection (1988)

Gibbs' model of reflection

Other work that you may find useful because it is so straightforward is that by Phil Race. He says keep it simple but remember that like ripples on a pond, things keep happening. E.g. whilst we are doing something we are digesting the information and planning what to do next and still needing to do it.


You may like to try some exercises to practice reflecting. There are some on the next few pages. Try them out and see what suits your style.

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