Overview and Purpose of The Reflection Process
Reflection is a process where we look inside ourselves to explore and examine our perspectives, our emotions, our behaviors, our experiences and actions / interactions with others. It often involves a process of introspection which is aimed at documenting what happened, making sense of what happened, and deciding on whether further investigation or exploration is necessary or desired. As Kath Murdoch, a famous education consultant, says reflection is similar to the inquiry process in that it is a process of tuning in, finding out, sorting out, digging deeper, drawing conclusions, and taking action again.
The process of reflection helps us gain insight and better understand the best way to move forward. It often helps uncover deeper meanings behind our everyday experiences, thoughts and interactions. Reflection helps us add to our existing knowledge base, make changes in our perspective and reach higher levels of understanding.
The process of reflection can happen with just yourself or of course it can include a group of people. Often managers in a business environment will have workers reflect upon their experience in the business to better understand what is currently happening. Also it is very common for facilitators to include moments of reflection during training and workshops for participants to process what they are learning, make connections with other aspects of their work, or to get feedback.
Really you can reflect upon anything that arises in reality. People often use the process of reflection to think about and better understand:
General Purposes of the Reflection process include:
Connection with Learning to Work with Meaning:
The Path to Practice and Implement The Reflection Process:
Reflection is basically an inquiry process where one thinks about an experience to get a better understanding of what happened and to gauge the importance of the experience. It is best to ask yourself questions without any form of judgment and allow yourself to answer the questions as specifically as possible. Some general reflection questions are:
The beauty of reflection is that it can happen anywhere and at any time. It just takes a moment for you to tell yourself that you want to reflect on what just happened and then you begin to have a conversation with yourself. The more you get in a habit of reflecting on an experience the more routine it will become.
Committing to always witness your own presence or be a third person to yourself can help further the routine of reflection, self awareness and mindfulness. Get in the habit of thinking of your life work as a movie where you are playing the main actor while simultaneously being the director. Train yourself to not only be in action, but to analyze the action while it is unfolding so that you are more conscious of how different variables in the current reality system are influencing one another.
You can be more intentional about the reflection process by setting a scheduled time to think about something and choosing to write down your reflections. If you choose this route it is very helpful to decide on the purpose and the questions for the reflection before you begin. That way when the time allotted arrives you can focus solely on answering the questions. Your reflection can be focused on your career path, a relationship dynamic, a project you are involved with, or a concept you are thinking about to name just a few. Regardless, be clear about the reasons you want to spend time in reflection. If others are involved in the reflection and you are the one facilitating the conversation, it is wise to pre plan or design the reflection process. Sometimes it can be helpful to set time limits for each question to ensure all questions are answered. Recording all the information surfaced can also be extremely helpful if you are planning to utilize the information in the future.
Some other ideas that will help you with the reflection process are:
Depending on the situation and purpose of the reflection, it is often helpful to reflect upon three different dimensions of an experience. This helps ensure that you are not just thinking about the details of the situation, but also the dynamics that unfolded and the reasons that might have influenced the situation. The three dimensions of reflection are content, process and premise and can be further described as:
To add even more intentionality to the reflection process it can be helpful to understand the work of Graham Gibbs, American sociologist and psychologist, who published a model for reflection in his 1988 book “Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods”. Gibb’s reflective cycle includes the following stages:
Description - this stage includes reviewing all the details of the experience without any judgement or evaluation. You want to describe the event, activity, experience or situation in as specifically as possible by answering questions like:
Feelings - This stage is all about enhancing self awareness and embracing the emotions the event triggered for you. In this stage you also want to be clear on what thoughts other people shared during the experience. The following questions might be helpful:
Evaluation - In this stage you want to evaluate the experience and figure out whether it was helpful or not. Questions that might be useful to think about include:
Analysis - this stage is often an overlap of the evaluation stage in that you want to analsize what occurred with a focus on learning. It is key to uncover any insights that might be present. Some questions that might be helpful include:
Conclusion - this stage is about bringing a close to your reflection and figuring out what you could have done differently. Questions that might help include:
Action Plan - The final stage is about creating a plan for how you will encounter similar situations when they arise in the future. Questions that might help include:
The Outcomes and Fruition of learning and embracing The Reflection Process:
Other Tools Worth Cross Referencing for Further Development and Understanding The Reflection Process:
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