Reflective Practice


Nilima Pandit

M.Sc. (ObGy) Nursing, Dr. D. Y. Patil Nursing College, Pune

*Corresponding Author Email:



‘Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning’. (Boud, D., Keogh, R. and Walker, D. (1985) p 43 Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. London: Kogan Page.)


Types of Reflection:

Informal Reflection:

·        Involves self- questioning

·        Develops our awareness of our own assumptions


Formal Reflection:

·        Draws on research and theory

·        Provides guidance and frameworks for practice.


Models of Reflection:

1) Dewey’s (1938) 5 Stage Model:

1      We identify a problem that is perplexing and ‘felt’

2      We observe and refine the identified problem to create a fuller understanding

3      We develop a hypothesis or an understanding about the problem, its origins and possible solutions

4      We subject the hypothesis to scrutiny and reasoning

5      We test the hypothesis or understanding in practice

Dewey, J. (1938) Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. Troy, MN: Rinehart and Winston.


2) Schon’s  (1983) ‘Reflection in Action’:

Reflection in action concerns thinking about something whilst engaged in doing it, having a feeling about something and practicing according to that feeling.


This model celebrates the intuitive and artistic approaches that can be brought to uncertain situations.

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. London: Temple Smith


3) Kolb’s (1984) Learning Cycle:

Concrete Experience: The event

Reflective observation:

Consider what has happened from a variety of perspectives e.g. own feelings, the group’s, an individual student’s view


Abstract conceptualisation:

Re-package and process your reflections into a theoretical understanding (use theory to analyse the event)


Active Experimentation:

Armed with this new understanding, you do it again, differently this time.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning. New Jersey; Prentice Hall


4) Boud’s (1985) Experiential Learning:

1.      Return to an event, incident or experience and record it

2.      Consider it in detail at an emotional and cognitive level

3.      Re-evaluate the event in the light of experience, knowledge and experimentation. Seek to understand the meaning of the experience

4.      Plan for what you might change.

Boud, D., Keogh, R. and Walker, D. (1985)  Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. London: Kogan Page.


5) John’s Ten C’s of Reflection (2000):

·        Commitment                Accept responsibility and be open to change

·        Contradiction  Note tension between actual and desired practice

·        Conflict Harness this energy to take appropriate action

·        Challenge Confront your own typical actions, beliefs and attitudes in a non-threatening way

·        Catharsis      Work through negative feelings

·        Creation        Move beyond old self to novel alternatives

·        Connection   Connect new insights in the world of practice

·        Caring Realise desirable practice

·        Congruence  Reflection as a mirror for caring

·        Constructing               Building personal knowledge in practice

·        Johns, C.  (2000). Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. Oxford; Blackwell


Barriers to reflection:

Practical Barriers:

Kolb (1984) sees that to reflect effectively on your experience, you should actively set aside part of your working day to reflect and analyse.


Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning. New Jersey; Prentice Hall


Psychological Barriers:

Fear of judgement, fear of criticism, being closed to feedback, defensiveness, professional arrogance.


Bridges to Reflection:

·        Non-judgemental support, e.g. mentor, manager

·        Feeling ‘safe’ enough – or we may use ‘expedient’ learning and do what we expect will get us through

·        A role model, e.g. a mentor who reflects on their own practice

·        Knowledge of as many methods as possible

·        As many opportunities as possible for engaging in reflection, e.g. pairs, groups

·        Time and Energy.

Ixer, G. (2003) Developing the relationship between reflective practice and social work values. Journal of Practice Teaching, 5, 1, pp 7-22.


Methods of Reflection:


A Narrative is a story of an experience or event:

·        Written in the first person, i.e. I felt I thought

·        Learner-centred in that it allows the learner’s voice to be heard

·        Enables links to be made between personal and professional development

·        Can be shared to allow deeper reflection and comparison.



Reflective Journal:

A Reflective Journal focuses on:

·        Your reaction to the event or experience

·        Different ways that you might look at it

·        How the experience links with other experiences

·        How you can understand the experience in the light of theory

·        What you have learned in the situation

·        What you need to learn

·        How you might achieve your identified learning goals


Critical Incident:

A critical incident is an incident that is in some way significant to the individual recounting it. 

You should record:

·        What the situation was

·        What you did in it

·        What happened as a result of your actions

·        A reflection on the situation or event and the process by which it unfolded.


The Importance of Reflection:

Reflection enables us to:

·        Be conscious of our potential for bias and discrimination.

·        Make the best use of the knowledge available.

·        Challenge and develop the existing professional knowledge base

·        Avoid past mistakes

·        Maximise our own opportunities for learning.


Unless we make conscious and systematic efforts to critique our own practice:

·        We will be unaware of how and when we are being discriminatory

·        We will not make use of the knowledge base developed by our own profession

·        We will continue to repeat the same mistakes

·        Our skills will stagnate rather than develop.













Received on 10.11.2013           Modified on 20.11.2013

Accepted on 25.11.2013           © A&V Publication all right reserved

Int. J. Adv. Nur. Management 1(1): Oct.- Dec., 2013; Page 01-02