The notion of reflective practice means deep and conscious thinking about the experience and learning through reflection. Many reflective models were created to indicate the direction of thinking. Different theories cover similar points through distinctive approaches: some models are easier to follow and apply, while others are complex and imply a lot of stages. However, the unified purpose of those models is to help, facilitate and guide the reflection process to improve practice.
Different situations require distinctive reflective models to achieve the best possible learning outcomes, and it is unfair and improper to select one as the most suitable. Kolb’s model is relatively simple and emphasizes converting information into knowledge in learning through experience: applying and reapplying knowledge gained from an action. Compared to other reflection theories, Schön’s model differs in attention to the detection and correction of mistakes and involves two types of reflection: so-called reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action (McLeod et al., 2020). The first one presupposes awareness during the action and making any corrections at the moment, while the second one is typical retrospective thinking afterward making an action.
Gibbs’ model is more complex, and this reflective cycle involves six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan. Interestingly, the first two stages do not involve any critical judgments or appraisals. This model requires a consistent and attentive thought process and cannot be used quickly. Moreover, Middleton (2017) claims that Gibbs’ reflective model “offers a clear structure but does not enable reflexive and critical approaches” (p. 2). Johns’ model, conversely, is more reflexive but may limit personal values and evaluations (Middleton, 2017). This theory’s reflection involves referring to an action’s reflexive, empirical, ethical, and aesthetical aspects.
Considering my previous osteopathic experience, mainly Schön’s model was involved in my reflective practice. I found it especially helpful that the notion of reflection-in-action “was required for healthcare practitioners to make decisions in the process of their work” (Middleton, 2017, p. 2). Application of Schön’s model increases mindfulness in actions, develops critical thinking, and teaches fast decision-making and rapid adaptation to different situations. According to Middleton (2017), it helps “continually having interplay between thought and action”, which in turn allows “consequently moving away from reactive to proactive practice” (p. 2). As a healthcare professional, I can relate to this and claim that this model is best for practice-based learning. Nonetheless, other actions and situations may require other reflective practice models to facilitate thinking and improve a practitioner’s awareness.
McLeod, G. A., Vaughan, B., Carey, I., Shannon, T., & Winn, E. (2020). Pre-professional reflective practice: Strategies, perspectives and experiences. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 35, 50-56. Web.
Middleton, R. (2017). Critical reflection: the struggle of a practice developer. International Practice Development Journal, 7(1), 1-6. Web.