Reflection is a tool that isused extensively in health and social care, particularly in education but alsoin practice. While it is argued that reflection is a difficult concept todefine (Clarke et al, 1996; James and Clarke, 1994, both cited by Bulman inBulman and Schutz, 2008), Bulman (2008) describes it as “reviewing experiencefrom practice so that it may be described, analysed, evaluated and consequentlyused to inform and change future practice”.Reflection is used as partof portfolio development and evidence of practice-based learning.
It isrecognised as being a beneficial tool for use after critical incidents haveoccurred to help practitioners and students reflect on experiences and generatenew knowledge. “Reflective writing is a valued tool for teaching nursingstudents and for documentation, support and generation of nursing knowledge.Reflection should be considered in a framework of self-awareness, context andin the domain of a broader perception of health and healthcare issues.
” (Craft,2005)Most theories about reflectionmention learning from the process as being an important element of it and statethat this is one reason why the activity is incorporated into nurse education(Hannigan, 2001). Many models of reflection incorporate a stage of planning forfuture events as a way of illustrating that learning has taken place. Using a model whenreflecting can help users focus on learning and self-awareness after anincident, and avoid simply retelling the events. Several reflective modelsalready exist, many of which consist of similar stages. The model individualschoose to use is often based on their personal preference; however some areover-simplified and do not address all the relevant issues (they allow users toapproach the process in a superficial way), while others are overly complex,more structured and prescriptive, and difficult to remember without a textbookin hand (Forrest, 2008).One popular choice is Gibbs'(1988) model.
Professor Graham Gibbspublished his Reflective Cycle in his 1988 book “Learning by Doing.” It’s particularly usefulfor helping people learn from situations that they experience regularly,especially when these don’t go well.Gibbs’ cycle is shown below.Figure 1 – Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle