"Reflection is a process that allows us to look back on a situation, consider it and then learn and adjust actions as a result. It is a complex activity that requires the individual to develop a set of skills required for problem solving."
Reflection as a learning tool:
- Is the process that we consciously undertake to gain further understanding and add meaning to our daily lives
- It is associated with learning that has occurred through experience and is an activity that helps you make sense of and learn from situations
- It is a means of assisting us to think, explore our thoughts and feelings and to work through an experience in an attempt to gain new understandings, fresh insights and self awareness
- It is the active consideration of, and learning from our thoughts and actions, together with the further use of these thoughts and actions as a means of developing reflective thinking
"The most important aspect of engaging in reflection for your ongoing personal and professional learning is that you are able to demonstrate your progression towards achievement of the NMC learning outcomes and standards of proficiency. The process of reflective writing leads to more than just a gain in your knowledge; it should also challenge the concepts and theories by which you make sense of knowledge. When you reflect on a situation, you do not simply see more, you see differently. This different way of viewing a situation is reflected in statements about a commitment to action. Action is the final stage of reflection."
Taylor, 2001 https://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/
Gibbs' Reflective Cycle (1988) is viewed as straightforward and provides a cyclical framework to help guide reflective practice.
Students and reflection
Students may be asked to reflect during their academic studies for a number of reasons. They may be presented with scenarios that require a reflective approach, feedback on assessment activity in order to learn and improve and more often in practical situations, for example, following some kind of placement, performance, or active task.
Mobile technologies provide the opportunity to record this reflection in a more instantaneous way perhaps by utilising the inbuilt media creation tools such as the video camera or voice recorder. They also provides quick access to social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as allowing for the obvious method of reflection by blog or vlog. The following are a few examples of apps that provide a facility for reflection:
- Evernote - a web-based tool that functions like a word processor but with the ability to insert audio notes, images, attachments and reminders
- Wordpress - an open source blogging platform that provides a range of easily customisable templates, the ability to integrate social media, embed multimedia and more
- Google Docs - allow users to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations in real time on any device, anytime.
University of Birmingham - mobile technologies for reflection
The University of Birmingham developed an app that stimulates reflective learning about how social workers should use social media personally and professionally.
Flipping the classroom, learners access the app prior to attending a face-to-face session. The app encourages learners to reflect on the following five areas out of class:
- Is social media skills development important for social workers?
- What are the ethical implications of exploring open social media profiles?
- Should social workers be mindful of their online image?
- Does social media present new personal/professional boundary issues?
- How can social workers effectively engage in continuing professional development when using social media?
- As well as using the app with their own students, they have extended this work to colleagues from Canada and Australia.
Learners then explore these issues in more detail in classroom discussion and debate.