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Theoretical perspectives on reflection to professional development

hi there

To complete the final unit of my early years educator course I need to join an online forum and discuss the theoretical perspectives on reflection to professional development. Below is my research, I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Firstly we know that reflective practise is assessing our work, finding our strengths and weaknesses so that we can improve upon our practice, Our practice is constantly changing and it is important as part of our professional development to do this regularly. We can look at theoretical approaches to help us do this. I have chosen to look at David Kolb's reflective cycle, The Johns model of reflection and Gibbs reflective cycle.

David Kolb's reflective cycle
This reflective cycle is made up of four stages
1. Concrete experience - This is the stage where you reflect on experiences, thinking about what happened and what you learned from the experience.
2. Reflective observation - Observing yourself and trying to understand your reactions and considering the implications of your actions.
3. Abstract Conceptualization - Shifting your focus to abstract concept, values, beliefs concepts, you start to analyse thoughts and feelings.
4. Active experimentation - Experimenting with new ideas and putting them in to practice in real life situations.
Kolb's designed this model to help teachers improve their teaching skills. It shows us the importance of reflection and how it is necessary to regularly re-evaluate our teaching methods. It can be used to teach people new skills or offer training in particular fields.

After reading about Kolb's cycle I find it quite easy to understand and feel I would be able to use his method within my own practice, being able to ask myself certain questions at each stage would allow me to be more critical of my own practice and therefore learn from my mistakes and develop an understanding of self, I would be able to put my own ideas into action before reflecting on them again. I have read though that it can hinder my development as if offers no outside feedback from others or reflection during an action.

The Johns Model of reflection
This model by Christopher Johns is split into five basic steps/key questions.
1. Describe the experience - what happened?
2. Reflection - Consider the experience from multiple perspectives.
3. Influencing factors - Identify factors that may have influenced the experience.
4. Could I have dealt with it better? - Consider how you could have handled the experience better and what changes you would make.
5. Learning - Learn from experience and use the lessons learned in future situations.
As a practitioner I can see the advantages of John's model, your question can be as detailed as you want and you can look at things holistically, it also considers the view point of others which Kolb's theory doesn't. The problem is it can be quite complex and you may need a lot of time and effort to understand and use.

Gibbs reflective cycle:
Gibbs reflective cycle is split into six stages.
1. Description - The individual describes the experience, important for identifying what happened.
2. Feelings - Identifying and evaluating feelings about the experience, important for understanding what emotions were experienced and how they impacted the individual.
3. Evaluation - Evaluating the experience, what was good or bad and what could have been done differently.
4. Analysis - Analyse the experience and look for patterns or any underlying causes, important to understand what happened and why.
5. Conclusion - Reach a conclusion about the experience, what to do with the learning in the future.
6.Action plan - What action should be taken in the future as a result of the learning, important for ensuring that the learning is put in to practice.
As practitioners, especially those that are beginners we can benefit from Gibbs reflective cycle because it is quick to do and easy to understand and use, you are learning overtime by reflecting on your own experiences and it will help you to develop a more balanced and accurate judgement of what has happen and how to deal with it. The disadvantages can be that a practitioner may not put enough detail or energy into the reflection and that can affect personal development, it doesn't consider the need to look at different perspectives and doesn't necessarily lead people to change their practices if the practitioner doesn't commit to the change.

Thank you for taking to the time to read, any thoughts or discussions would be much appreciated.
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Reply 2
Original post by chelsey_phillips
hi there

To complete the final unit of my early years educator course I need to join an online forum and discuss the theoretical perspectives on reflection to professional development. Below is my research, I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Firstly we know that reflective practise is assessing our work, finding our strengths and weaknesses so that we can improve upon our practice, Our practice is constantly changing and it is important as part of our professional development to do this regularly. We can look at theoretical approaches to help us do this. I have chosen to look at David Kolb's reflective cycle, The Johns model of reflection and Gibbs reflective cycle.

David Kolb's reflective cycle
This reflective cycle is made up of four stages
1. Concrete experience - This is the stage where you reflect on experiences, thinking about what happened and what you learned from the experience.
2. Reflective observation - Observing yourself and trying to understand your reactions and considering the implications of your actions.
3. Abstract Conceptualization - Shifting your focus to abstract concept, values, beliefs concepts, you start to analyse thoughts and feelings.
4. Active experimentation - Experimenting with new ideas and putting them in to practice in real life situations.
Kolb's designed this model to help teachers improve their teaching skills. It shows us the importance of reflection and how it is necessary to regularly re-evaluate our teaching methods. It can be used to teach people new skills or offer training in particular fields.

After reading about Kolb's cycle I find it quite easy to understand and feel I would be able to use his method within my own practice, being able to ask myself certain questions at each stage would allow me to be more critical of my own practice and therefore learn from my mistakes and develop an understanding of self, I would be able to put my own ideas into action before reflecting on them again. I have read though that it can hinder my development as if offers no outside feedback from others or reflection during an action.

The Johns Model of reflection
This model by Christopher Johns is split into five basic steps/key questions.
1. Describe the experience - what happened?
2. Reflection - Consider the experience from multiple perspectives.
3. Influencing factors - Identify factors that may have influenced the experience.
4. Could I have dealt with it better? - Consider how you could have handled the experience better and what changes you would make.
5. Learning - Learn from experience and use the lessons learned in future situations.
As a practitioner I can see the advantages of John's model, your question can be as detailed as you want and you can look at things holistically, it also considers the view point of others which Kolb's theory doesn't. The problem is it can be quite complex and you may need a lot of time and effort to understand and use.

Gibbs reflective cycle:
Gibbs reflective cycle is split into six stages.
1. Description - The individual describes the experience, important for identifying what happened.
2. Feelings - Identifying and evaluating feelings about the experience, important for understanding what emotions were experienced and how they impacted the individual.
3. Evaluation - Evaluating the experience, what was good or bad and what could have been done differently.
4. Analysis - Analyse the experience and look for patterns or any underlying causes, important to understand what happened and why.
5. Conclusion - Reach a conclusion about the experience, what to do with the learning in the future.
6.Action plan - What action should be taken in the future as a result of the learning, important for ensuring that the learning is put in to practice.
As practitioners, especially those that are beginners we can benefit from Gibbs reflective cycle because it is quick to do and easy to understand and use, you are learning overtime by reflecting on your own experiences and it will help you to develop a more balanced and accurate judgement of what has happen and how to deal with it. The disadvantages can be that a practitioner may not put enough detail or energy into the reflection and that can affect personal development, it doesn't consider the need to look at different perspectives and doesn't necessarily lead people to change their practices if the practitioner doesn't commit to the change.

Thank you for taking to the time to read, any thoughts or discussions would be much appreciated.

Hi there,
I’m also completing me early year educator course. I looked at David Kolb’s reflective cycle, Gibbs reflective cycle and Donald Schon, who was an American philosopher and professor. I feel that all these theories have good points and make us think about reflective practice, after reading through your theoretical perspective i have found John’s method seem the most clear and quite easy to understand, it seems like it was written for everyone to understand and be able to use. It would probably be a useful reflection after leading an activity or maybe dealing with a childs behaviour. Whereas Kolb’s reflective cycle would be good for a reflective activity, and Gibbs for challenging behaviour. I believe it is important as practitioners to reflect on our own work, not only does it benefit the children, it also benefits our own professional development. Would you mind taking a look at Schon’s process of continuous learning and let me know you thoughts?
Many thanks.
Original post by PoPpY_200
Hi there,
I’m also completing my early year educator course. I looked at David Kolb’s reflective cycle, Gibbs reflective cycle and Donald Schon, who was an American philosopher and professor. I feel that all these theories have good points and make us think about reflective practice, after reading through your theoretical perspective i have found John’s method seem the most clear and quite easy to understand, it seems like it was written for everyone to understand and be able to use. It would probably be a useful reflection after leading an activity or maybe dealing with a child's behaviour. Whereas Kolb’s reflective cycle would be good for a reflective activity, and Gibbs for challenging behaviour. I believe it is important as practitioners to reflect on our own work, not only does it benefit the children, it also benefits our own professional development. Would you mind taking a look at Schon’s process of continuous learning and let me know you thoughts?
Many thanks.

Thank you so much for your reply, from doing some research on Schon's I can see that he has two ways of doing reflection, reflection in action and reflection on action. Reflection in action is reflecting as something happens, consider the situation, decide how to act and act immediately. Reflection on action is reflection after something happens, reconsider the situation and think about what needs changing for the future. I think that as practitioners we could benefit from both of these ways of reflecting, to be able to reflect something in the moment allows us to understand why something may have happened and adapt it to change the outcome of say an activity that children may not particularly be enjoying or unwanted behaviours and to be able to reflect on an activity or behaviour after it has happened will help us learn and develop as practitioners, as well as benefiting the children in future planning.

Hope this helps!
(edited 8 months ago)
Reply 4
Thank you for your quick response. This is what I found with Shon’s reflections, I have spoken to mentor about teaching me how to reflect in action as i feel this isn’t something that i do, and would benefit me professionally and the children in my care.

Good luck with your course.
Thank you, good luck to you too!

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