Definitions, models, theories 3

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What is Reflective Practice?

Reflective Practice is a concept which has been extensively used in education for some time, and is also adopted by other professionals such as healthcare workers. As with reflection, there are several models of Reflective Practice which vary from writer to writer, and organisation to organisation. Some of the key ideas are presented here, but we do not suggest any one is better than any other. Use the content and ideas which you think will work best for you!

Definitions of Reflective Practice

reflective practice is viewed as a means by which practitioners can develop a greater level of self-awareness about the nature and impact of their performance, an awareness that creates opportunities for professional growth and development. (Osterman and Kottkamp 1993: 2 )

Schon puts it in a nicely simple way

A dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skilful. (Schön 1987)

Reflective practice’ is a term often used in education pedagogy. It is a continuous process from a personal perspective that considers critical incidents within your life’s experiences.

Reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one’s own experiences in applying theory to practice. In teacher education it refers to the process of trainees studying their known teaching methods and determining what works best for the students. All lecturers need to reflect on their experiences in the classroom and adapt their strategies accordingly. (Duckworth et al 2010: p 41)

Pollard and Tann (1993) laid out a set of six characteristics of reflective practice. They argued that the reflective practitioner:
  • has an active concern with aims and consequences, as well as means and technical efficiency
  • requires competence in methods of classroom enquiry (gathering data, analysis, evaluation) to support the development of teaching competence
  • requires attitudes of open-mindedness, responsibility and wholeheartedness
  • is based on teacher judgement which is informed partly by self-reflection and partly by insights from educational disciplines
  • is enhanced through collaboration and dialogue with colleagues
(Pollard and Tann 1993: pp 9-10 )

Learning Activities - available to download from links below

What is reflective practice? - download
Simple activity to consider what reflective practice is about with accompanying powerpoint presentations (below).

Models, frameworks and theories of reflective practice - download
Activity to consider further some of the models, frameworks and theories associated with Reflective Practice using individual / group workand asking generic questions.

There are many items on this website which will help the completion of this activity

Complete online courses / modules in Reflective Practice

When locating resources for this website, we have discovered complete online courses in reflective practice from more than one source. We have included them here, but they should be treated as self contained modules for particular purposes rather than an integral part of this resource.

Reflection On and In the Workplace for Students

Part of the practice based learnng website with the aim
To identify the importance of reflection in learning and to discuss how you might use it in the workplace. The different models of reflection will be considered and how you can reflect upon your practice/work and learning. Available at:

Introduction to Reflective Practice

Student reflecting
Student reflecting

This online module is designed as an introduction to reflective practice for students at the University of South Australia. A second module, Critical Reflective Practice, that expands on this topic is also available.
Reflective practice is a key skill for developing as a professional. 'Only through contemplating what one is doing and why can one demonstrate that intelligent and competent practice ensues’ (Thorpe, 2004, p.330).
Employers regularly highlight their need for people with both the appropriate professional knowledge and skills in critical reflective thinking. They recognise that the workplace is where employing staff with an ability to develop creative solutions to problems, who can work within ethical frameworks and who are able to step outside formulaic approaches to challenges are highly desirable assets to their organisation.
By completing this module you will:
  • gain an understanding of reflective practice by engaging with learning activities
  • differentiate levels and processes of reflection
  • develop an awareness of your personal strengths and learning opportunities
  • use reflective writing to demonstrate your learning development.
Please allow 3 hours to complete this module. **Click on this link to begin the module**

11.965 Reflective Practice: An Approach for Expanding Your Learning Frontiers

(from MIT OpenCourseware)

Course Description

The course is an introduction to the approach of Reflective Practice developed by Donald Schön. It is an approach that enables professionals to understand how they use their knowledge in practical situations and how they can combine practice and learning in a more effective way. Through greater awareness of how they deploy their knowledge in practical situations, professionals can increase their capacities of learning in a more timely way. Understanding how they frame situations and ideas helps professionals to achieve greater flexibility and increase their capacity of conceptual innovation.
The objective of the course is to introduce students to the approach and methods of reflective practice by raising their awareness about their own cognitive resources and how they use them in their practice. The course will introduce theories of learning, knowledge generation, framing and reframing, theories of action, reflection-in-practice, and conceptual innovation, and provide students with opportunities to experiment with these theories in real life through practical exercises in which they reflect on real situations that they have faced in their past professional experience. Through these practical exercises, students will have the opportunity to reflect on their thinking capacities in the context of their practice.

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course
Avaiable at:

Further Resources / Activities on this topic

Reflective Practice PowerPoint - Introductory (thanks to Caroline Harvey)
Reflective Practice PowerPoint - Detailed (thanks to Lorraine Simpson)
Reflective Practice PowerPoint - from the IfL
Osterman, K.F. and Kottkamp, R.B. (1993) Reflective Practice for Educators - Improving Schooling Through Professional Development. California: Corwin Press - 20 page extract - download
London Pharmacy Education & Training (2005) Reflective Practice Handout – version 2 Reflective Practice - download
- Introduction to Reflective Practice - a handout from the 'old' Gold Dust Resources - download
- What is reflective practice from the UK centre for legal education at
From the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education there is Reflective Practice and Professional Development. ERIC Digest. at:
From the excellent Learning and Teaching website at
Escalate 'Busy Teacher Educator Guide' on Reflective practice for download (pdf)
Describes itself as follows:
It is the intention of this guide to attempt to explain how reflection - in which searching questions are asked about experience - might be conceptualised, why it can be viewed as rather more than ‘thinking about teaching’ and why a consideration of reflective practice itself might be helpful to both the beginning and the experienced teacher.
- Practice Based Learning
Good website with many resources including a section on Reflective Practice at
- Thinking about my practice: learner-focused and teacher-focused issues around CPD and reflective practice at:
- A YouTube Playlist of videos which can be used in various ways, and which will be updated periodically:

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