Tools For Reflective Practice

Thursday, 8th January, 2015

Open Notebook or JournalWhether you’re thinking of starting a learning log, a journal or reflective diary (perhaps to reflect on your progress towards this year’s goals), the process of recording your thoughts will involve asking and answering some searching questions.

The questions you ask are key to the outcomes you’ll get from this reflective/journalling process.

There are lots of reflective practice models around that will help and support your reflective thinking. Below I’ve detailed 2 for your perusal. I like to use Rolfe’s model for general reflections, and Gibbs’ model when something more significant has happened … something I want to explore in more detail & gain greater learning from.

Rolfe’s Model: The 3 Whats

What? (Description)The word What with a question mark to ask for an answer to a mys

  • What happened?
  • Who was involved?

So what ? (Interpretation)

  • What is the most important/relevant/useful bit of this event (or idea/situation)?
  • How can it be explained?
  • How is it similar to (or different from) others?

What next? (Outcome)

  • What have I learned?
  • How can it be applied in the future?

Gibbs’ Model

This is broken down into 6 parts and provides the opportunity to be more critical than with Rolfe’s model:

1. Description – What happened?

Just the facts! Don’t make judgements yet, just describe.

2. Feelings – What were your reactions and what did you feel?

Be honest about these. How did your feelings affect your actions?

3. Evaluation – What was good or bad about the situation/experience?

Now you can make value judgements. So what was positive or negative? Why do you think this?

4. Analysis – What sense can you make of the situation?

What was really going on? Try to find the key issue.

Here you can bring in ideas from outside experience to help you … Does any theory you know about this area help you make more sense of what happened? And could you use theory to help improve this aspect in the future?

5. Conclusion

Generally speaking … what can you conclude from the experience and the analyses you’ve done?

Specifically … what can you conclude about your unique personal situation, or way of working?

6. Action plan

What are you going to do differently in a similar situation in the future?

What steps are you going to take, based on what you’ve learnt? What will you do first?

Are there any other models that you particularly like / use?

What kinds of events / situations / ideas would you use a reflective model for?


_MG_9371-EditThank you for taking the time to read this blog post.

I’m Debbie Inglis, executive coach, trainer & supervision coach, working across the UK and Internationally with leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in them.

If you’re interested in my services, you can contact me here, or pop over to my website to read more here. I also publish a weekly newsletter which you can sign up to here.