Theoretical perspectives on reflection to professional development

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As part of my Early Years Educator course I have been asked to research theoretical perspectives on reflection to professional development and share the summary of my findings with others on an online forum. I have chosen to write about Kolb’s learning cycle and Gibbs reflective cycle.


Kolb’s experimental learning theory presents a cyclical model of learning, consisting of four stages. This cycle helps people to understand what is involved in the reflective process and sets out four easy stages to follow in the process. By progressing through each of the four stages of the learning cycle in a logical order we are learning effectively.

The four stage of the learning cycles are:

1. Concrete Experience

This is the first stage of the learning process. This is where something has been done or an experience has been had.

2. Reflective Observation

This is the stage after the concrete experience has been had and its now time to reflect on that experience. This would include thinking about how it went, what went well and what didn’t go well. This stage also relates to receiving feedback from others. In an Early Years setting this may be in terms of a peer observation.

3. Abstract Conceptualisation

At this stage conclusions are made from the reflective process and decisions are made about how improvements can be made in the future and what has been learnt from the experience.

4.Active experiment

This is the stage where the changes and new ideas are put into practice that have been made from the Abstract Conceptualisation stage. This then leads back to the beginning of the cycle to continue learning, development and reflection.


Gibbs produced a 6 step cycle based on continuous learning through reflection. This cycle helps to make sense of an experience or situation. The cycle can work well when used to reflect on a single experience or repeated experiences.

The 6 steps are:

1. Description

What has happened?

2. Feelings

This step encourages you to think about how you felt during the situation and whether these feelings had an impact.

3. Evaluation

At this stage you evaluate what has happened and think about what went well and what didn’t go well.

4. Analysis

At this stage you analyse the situation thinking about why things went well or didn’t go well.

5. Conclusion

At this stage everything is drawn to a conclusion thinking about what has been learnt and how things could be done differently next time.

6. Action plan

An action plan is now put into place to put changes into action. In terms of professional development this could be by adding an area of learning or development to a Professional Development Plan.

Both of these cycles are beneficial in terms of professional development. The cycles are based on learning and reflecting from experiences. I try to take advantage of new experiences and opportunities to support my development. I follow Kolb’s cycle when planning and evaluating activities that I carry out in my setting or reflecting on how I have learnt from a situation or experience and how I could improve in the future.

I like that Gibb’s cycle has a step that encourages you to think about your feelings and whether these have had an impact on what has happened. This is a key element in taking ownership in recognising your own role and in self reflection.

These theories lend well to the EYFS where reflective practice is encouraged.

I strongly believe that reflection is an important part of professional development. By being reflective we are more aware of our strengths and development areas. Being aware of development areas allows us to plan on how we can improve our practice and seek the support to do so.

I welcome your own views.

Is there any theories that you have come across that you have found supportive in the reflection process?
Last edited by TanyaAubrey; 1 year ago

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