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Understanding Reflective Practice

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Shaun Durkin

on 7 June 2015

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Transcript of Understanding Reflective Practice

What is meant by ... 'reflective practice'
'Reflective practice involves thinking about and learning from your own practice and from the practices of others so as to gain new perspectives on the dilemmas and contradictions inherent in your ... situation, improve judgement, and increase the probability of taking informed action when situations are complex, unique and uncertain' (Centre for Support of Teaching and Learning at Syracuse University)
Consider the similarities ... i.e. that thinking, learning and action are interlinked - either specified or implied; that critical thinking is necessary and that change is either specified or implied.
Reflective practice enables you to:
explore your own underlying values and beliefs and recognise the ways in which these affect your own approach to practice;
identify the ways in which emotions influence your work practice;
explore the relationships between your own behaviour and problem situations;
identify contradictions and dilemmas within your own practice, e.g. behaving in ways contrary to what you profess to believe;
understand perspectives other than your own;
explore the influence of context in problem situations, e.g. systems, structures and policies within or external to the service in which you work;
learn from reflection and interpret this learning within your practice on an ongoing basis.
The origins of reflective practice
Reflective practice probably has its origins well in the past, but it is names such as John Dewey and, most notably, Donald Schon that are the most commonly associated with its emergence as a recognised theory.
Three Aspects of Schon's Discussions ...
Tacit knowing-in-action
is based on aspects of professional practice that appear to be instinctive. According to Schon, in this type of practice, thinking and action are not separate and we are often unaware of where our knowledge has come from. The knowing is inherent in the action.
ACTIVITY: Using Reflection-in-Action
Can you think of an example of when you encountered a situation that meant you had to employ reflection-in-action? Describe the situation briefly?
You might like to think about ...
... how 'reflective' you are as a manager or practitioner and whether any of your reflection is planned. For instance, do you keep a diary about your own practice, 'think things through' on paper or computer, jot down thoughts and ideas?
You almost certainly participate - and perhaps lead - shared reflection with colleagues at staff meetings of different kinds.
Understanding Reflective Practice (1)
What is meant by 'reflective practice'?
The origins of reflective practice

Reflection is an essential step in the lifelong process of learning from our personal and professional experiences ... Reflection is particularly valued in the context of a professional life because of its potential to enhance learning while we are in the midst professional practice' (Watson and Wilcox, 2000)
'Reflective practice gives us tools to get underneath our assumptions, and conventional knowledge, to see the world anew. We can reframe or revise the ways we interpret our experience of our workplace and the world' (www2.fhs.usyd.edu.au)
Also consider that most definitions focused on learning from your own practice, while you talked about your own and other people's. Also, there were different emphases, e.g. some people stressed underlying assumptions.
Leitch and Day (2000) argue that 'while a reflective practitioner may be concerned to improve practice, and to develop additional competence, what defines the effective reflective practitioner is more a set of attitudes towards practice based upon broader understandings of self, society and moral purposes than those which seek
John Dewey
(1859-1952) was primarily a philosopher with a particular interest in learning. His work on thinking, problem solving, learning and reflection informed many subsequent theories.
He defined reflective thought as 'active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and further conclusions to which it trends (1933, p118) and more recently, reflection as 'the kind of thinking that consists of turning a subject over in the mind and giving it serious and consecutive consideration'.
Dewey's writings influenced the work of
Donald Schon
(1930-97), who had a particular interest in effectiveness in practice. Schon's well-known book,
The Reflective Practitioner
(1983), based on analysis of practice across different professions, has given rise to much of what happens today in relation to reflective practice.
Like Dewey, Schon believed that people learn by doing. Professional thinking, he contended, should be based not only on the application of established theory, but also on knowledge gained from experience and on non-logical types of thinking about what is relevant and appropriate in particular contexts.
However, there are times when we encounter new situations or particular problems in familiar situations. Then it is not enough to respond spontaneously or in the way we usually do. We must 'think on our feet', bringing our professional knowledge to bear. Schon calls this kind of thinking
Schon's third concept,
, applies to situations when we need to make our knowledge explicit so that we can understand it better, learn from it and apply this learning to future practice. We distance ourselves from the situation and then reflect upon it. This is what we generally mean when we talk about being a reflective practitioner - conscious reflection in which we think about and analyse an aspect of practice, including, most crucially, the underlying processes and influences.
You have now completed this short introduction to 'Understanding Reflection Practice'. In this topic we considered:
understanding reflective practice, examining the meaning of the term 'reflective practice'
Content for this topic was adapted from the BILD publication 'Personal Development and Reflective Practice in a Learning Disability Service' by Alice Bradley (2006)
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