Hi I am also at the stage of finishing my level 3 childcare and I have been looking at theoretical perspectives in relation to the importance of reflection within professional development, I looked at two theorists in particular, namely Christopher Johns and David Kolb. Johns saw his five stage model as an essential part to having a well structured reflection, which would help analyse complex decision making, as well as offering a useful tool to critically reflect. Johns thought a person should have both an internal and external focus while thinking; internal reflections are linked to your own emotions and thoughts, whilst external reflections are focused on the factual situation. Critical reflection allows people to take on board other people’s opinions and ideas, and enables a person to analyse what they have learnt, setting aside personal values/opinions and considering solid evidence on which to base their findings. Critical analysis allows a person to process complex problems or subjects by breaking them down into smaller sections, making them easier to understand and view. John’s’ five stage model is as followed:
1- Describing the situation/experience including: feelings, contributing factors, background factors.
2- Reflecting: what were you trying to achieve? Your approach, consequences of your actions both for yourself and for others, how you and others felt during the experience.
3- Factors that influence the situation: decision making, why you made certain decisions, what knowledge/ information did you base your decisions on.
4- Identifying improvements: did you have other options? What would the outcome have been from following alternative options? Could you have dealt with situations better?
5- Areas of improvement: what could you have changed? What knowledge have you learned which will change your practice going forward? Do you need to attain additional knowledge?
David Kolb also produced a reflective method, ‘The Experiential Learning Cycle’, which is also broken down into stages like Christopher Johns’s. Kolb’s theory comes in two parts however;8 the four stage learning cycle and the four separate learning styles linked to the cognitive process. Kolb’s four stage learning cycle:
1- Concrete Experience: immersing themselves within an experience.
2- Reflective Observation: reflecting on the new experience. What did you notice? What do you think? Were there inconsistencies between experience and understanding?
3- Abstract Conceptualisations: could things be done differently on reflection?
4- Active Experimentation: after changes have been made, try the concept again.
Kolb thought that for effective learning to take place, a person must progress through the whole cycle, in the correct order, and that no single stage is effective as a learning tool on its own.
Kolb’s four learning styles:
-Diverging: people who are able to look at things from different perspectives, prefer to ‘watch’ rather than ‘do’, gather information, use imagination to problem solve, have a broad cultural interest, tend to be imaginative and emotional, prefer to work in groups.
-Assimilating: People who require good clear explanations, understand wide-ranging information, are organised, tend to be less focused on people and more interested in logical concepts.
-Converging: People who are good at problem-solving and making decisions, use language to find solutions, prefer technical tasks.
-Accommodating: People with a hands-on style to learning, have an experimental approach, are attracted to new experiences, commonly act on ‘gut instinct’ rather than logic, rely on others for information.
Kolb believes people naturally have preferred learning styles due to their social environment, education and an individual’s cognitive structure. Understanding a child’s or adult’s learning style enables learning to be adjusted to their preferred method that best suits them.
It is important for practitioners to reflect honestly and objectively on the role we play in the children’s lives within our settings. By doing this, it will help to encourage our continued growth and learning, ensuring that we are providing the best possible care and learning experiences for the children. Both of the theorists that I have mentioned above promote professional development through reflective practice. Knowledge of the above theories will contribute to improved problem solving, whether it be in the moment or when planning future activities. Being aware of these theories will help to make us as practitioners, more aware about how to create effective learning environments and experiences, correctly catered for individual children/age groups.
I would like here other peoples thought/views?