Learning and Reflection

Topics: Skill, Writing, Learning Pages: 16 (1423 words) Published: May 25, 2014
Introduction to Psychological
Completion of a Reflective Dairy/ Learning Journal Entry from Counselling Class

Session Week 6
Abba Hailegebriel Girma

The Ethiopian Orthodox Theological
College Houston, Texas, USA

What is Required in Reflective Writing?
Why Reflect?
‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn.Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’ (Gibbs 1988)

Reflective writing provides an opportunity for you to gain further insights from your work through deeper reflection on your
experiences, and through further consideration of other
perspectives from people and theory. Through reflection we can we can deepen the learning from work.

The Nature and Content of Reflection
• So what do we mean by reflection? One tentative definition of reflection is offered by Moon (1999):
‘… a form of mental processing with a purpose and/or anticipated outcome that is applied to relatively complex or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution’. (Moon 1999:23)

• Moon continues by outlining some of the purposes for reflection: •‘We reflect in order to:
– Consider the process of our own learning – a process of metacognition – Critically review something - our own behaviour, that of others or the product of behaviour (e.g. an essay, book, painting etc.)

– Build theory from observations: we draw theory from generalisations - sometimes in practical situations, sometimes in thoughts or a mixture of the two
– Engage in personal or self development
– Make decisions or resolve uncertainty …
– Empower or emancipate ourselves as individuals (and then it is close to self-development) or to empower/emancipate ourselves within the context of our social groups.’ (Ibid pp23)

•In this instance, whilst your reflective writing must relate to your experience, the exact focus and emphasis is for you to determine.

Deepening Reflection – Three Models of reflection
• When assessing your reflective writing you will be expected more than a superficial review of your experience, they will be seeking evidence of deeper reflection. This means moving beyond the
descriptive, and subjecting your experience to greater scrutiny. •

In Learning by Doing, Gibbs (1988) outlines the stages for a ‘Structured Debriefing’, which are based on Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle and which encourage deeper reflection:

Continued …..

Deepening Reflection – Three Models of reflection

What is the stimulant for reflection? ( incident, event, theoretical idea ) What are you going to reflect on?


What were your reactions and feelings?


What was good and bad about the experience? Make value


What sense can you make of the situation? Bring in ideas from outside the experience to help you. What was really going on?

Conclusions (general):

What can be concluded, in a general sense, from these experiences and the analyses you have undertaken?

Conclusions (specific):

What can be concluded about your own specific, unique, personal situation or ways of working?

Personal Action plans:

What are you going to do differently in this type of situation next time? What steps are you going to take on the basis of what you have learnt?

On being Reflective
• Starting point

We need to acknowledge our role as theory builders
Have a clear method for making sense of our experience
Develop a range of theoretical perspectives
Participate in learning opportunities to practice, theorise
and evaluate their work.

The Method: Kolb’s (1984) Experimental Learning
Experiencing feeling

Observation & Reflection
Watching &...

References: • Gibbs, G. Rust, C. Jenkins, A. Jaques, D. 1994, Developing
Students’ Transferable Skills. Oxford Centre for Staff Development.
• Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of
Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, New Jersey
• Moon, J, 1999, Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics,
Students and Professional Development. Kogan Page
• Wright, Jeannie and Bolton, Gillie (2012) Reflective Writing in
Counselling and Psychotherapy (London: SAGE)
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