Reflective practice entails pondering or analyzing your actions.
There is a strong connection between this and the idea of learning from experience, as you reflect on your actions and the outcomes to determine what you might do differently next time.
As human beings, we inevitably ruminate about past events. However, reflective practice differs from casual “thinking” in that it involves an effort to think about events and gain insights into them.
Once you get into the habit of practicing reflective practice, you will probably find it useful both at work and at home.
Competence in Reflective Practice
Chris Argyris, who popularized the term “double-loop learning” to describe the process by which one moves from the “single loop” of “Experience, Reflect, Conceptualize, Apply” to a “second loop” in which one recognizes a new paradigm and re-frames their ideas in order to change their actions, is just one of many academics who have touched on reflective practice and experiential learning.
The good news for most of us is that they tend to believe that reflective practice is a talent that can be learnt and honed.
Scholars also generally agree that reflective practice is the link between the “high ground” of theory and the “swampy lowlands” of practice.
In other words, it provides a framework within which we can investigate hypotheses and test them against our own experiences.
These can be your own conjectures, or more formally formulated hypotheses derived from other people’s research.
It inspires us to question our own assumptions and beliefs, as well as to seek our own individual paths to problem-solving.
Creating and Employing Reflective Skills
What can be done to help build the critical, constructive, and creative thinking that is necessary for reflective practice?
People Skills author Neil Thompson recommends following these six steps.
- Read — around the topics you are learning about or want to learn about and develop
- Ask — others about the way they do things and why.
- Watch — what is going on around you.
- Feel — pay attention to your emotions, what prompts them, and how you deal with negative ones.
- Talk — share your views and experiences with others in your organization.
- Think — learn to value time spent thinking about your work.
Put differently, it’s not only the thinking that counts. You need to learn the theory, observe how others apply it, and talk to them about it.
It is not necessary to engage in reflective practice in isolation. In fact, some social psychologists argue that knowledge can only be acquired by the act of putting your thoughts into words.
This may be the reason why you feel compelled to share your thoughts aloud, even when you are alone by yourself.
Thoughts that aren’t well-expressed may not last, which has ramifications for reflective practice.
In a fast-paced work environment, it may be tough to find time for team members to engage in reflective practice together.
Some examples jump out at you immediately, such as performance assessments or retrospectives on significant events, but they are not commonplace.
So, you’ll have to come up with some new words for your thoughts.
Keeping a record of learning events can be useful, although it may feel forced at first.
This is not the same as taking notes in a classroom; rather, it entails recording the details of your daily life and then commenting on what you learned and how you could adjust your approach in the future.
You can use a learning notebook and reflective practice to keep track of your progress and recognize your successes even as you work to improve.
The Reflective Learning Process: Understanding Through Introspection
Give an example from your job or personal life where you think things could have been handled better.
Explain What Happened to You
So, what exactly happened here? How soon did this happen, and where did it take place? Is there anything more you’d like to say about this?
How did your actions fare? To what do you attribute your musings? In what ways did it affect you emotionally? Were there extraneous elements at play here? What did you take away from this?
In other words, how well did your expectations match up with what actually transpired, if at all? How does it connect to the theories you’ve studied in depth? In your opinion, what actions could have altered the result and why?
Is there anything you can say or do at this point to alter the current course of events? In what way (s) could you be able to influence future responses like that? What kinds of actions may you potentially try?
The Values of Self-Reflection in Daily Life
The development of self-awareness, an essential part of emotional intelligence, and empathy through reflective practice are two major benefits.
Regularly thinking about yourself can also help you think of new ideas and get more involved at work, which is a nice bonus.
If you use reflective practice on a regular basis and keep a learning notebook at work, you will be able to have deeper and more insightful conversations about your professional and personal growth, particularly during performance reviews.
It will also give you examples that you can use to prepare for a competency-based interview.
One of the most common casualties of high stress levels is the habit of regular self-reflection.
Spending some time on reflective practice can help you give more attention to the things that are most important to you and the people who matter to you at work or at home.
If you want to get more out of your educational and professional experiences, try incorporating some reflective practice into your routine.
Learning to use reflective practice is an involved process, but it will pay off in the long run by reducing your workload.