A model of reflection is a structured framework for the reflective process with an emphasis on personal and situational analysis and improvement.
Understanding models of reflection
In simple terms, reflection is the conscious exploration of an experience with the intention to learn from that experience.
The learning process can be made more powerful when accompanied by a structure or framework. There are many such frameworks available, with each of them helping the individual act in a more conscious, deliberate manner.
It’s also worth pointing out that reflection is a continuous practice, with insights gleaned from one experience used to better navigate future experiences. As a result, most models of reflection are cyclical in nature.
In the rest of the article, we will take a look at some of the most popular models of reflection in use today.
Johns’ model of structured reflection
Johns’ model of structured reflection was developed by reflective practices pioneer Christopher Johns for use in the healthcare industry.
The framework, which can also be used in other contexts, is most suited to the reflection and analysis of complex decision-making.
Johns suggested reflection was a two-part process:
- Inward reflection – where the individual considers their thoughts and feelings, and
- Outward reflection – where the individual considers the situation in terms of how they acted and whether such actions were ethical. Outward reflection also involves identifying the external factors that influenced their behavior.
Unlike similar models, the Johns interpretation suggests the reflective process is more effective when practiced with someone else – such as a teacher, supervisor, or mentor.
Kolb’s learning cycle
Kolb’s learning cycle argues learning is based on the reflection and understanding of lived experiences. With lessons learned from each situation, the individual can apply new insights to similar situations in the future and begin the process of reflection once again.
Kolb’s framework is a cyclical process consisting of four stages:
- Concrete experience – participating in an experience and applying new learning.
- Reflective observation – reflecting on the experience without judgment.
- Abstract conceptualization – making sense of the experience. What worked, and what didn’t?
- Active experimentation – planning what to do next time by setting goals and determining success criteria.
Rolfe’s framework of reflective practice
Rolfe’s framework of reflective practice is a model based on three simple questions:
1 – What?
- What is the problem, reason, or difficulty responsible for the individual feeling bad?
- What role did the individual play in the situation?
- What were they trying to achieve through the actions they took?
2 – So what?
- So what does the experience teach, tell, imply, or mean about the individual?
- So what was going through their mind as they acted?
- So what did the individual base their actions on? How could they bring new knowledge to the situation?
3 – Now what?
- Now what does the individual need to do to improve or resolve their situation?
- Now what are the broader issues worthy of consideration to result in successful action?
- Now what might be the possible consequences of these actions?
The model was created by Professor Gary Rolfe together with colleagues Dawn Freshwater and Melanie Jasper. Like the Johns model, Rolfe’s framework was initially used as a critical reflective tool in nursing and other helping professions.
The framework itself consist of probing questions designed to guide the individual toward an increasingly broader and deeper reflection.
Examples of Models of Reflection
Johns’ Model of Structured Reflection
- Inward Reflection: A healthcare professional reflects on their feelings and emotions after a challenging patient interaction. They explore why they felt frustrated and emotionally drained during the encounter.
- Outward Reflection: The same healthcare professional analyzes their actions during the interaction and questions whether they responded ethically and professionally to the patient’s needs and concerns. They also consider external factors that might have influenced their behavior, such as time constraints or personal stress.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle
- Concrete Experience: A teacher introduces a new teaching method in the classroom and observes how students respond to it.
- Reflective Observation: The teacher reflects on the classroom experience without judgment. They notice that some students are highly engaged, while others seem disinterested.
- Abstract Conceptualization: The teacher analyzes the effectiveness of the teaching method, identifying what worked well and what could be improved to better engage all students.
- Active Experimentation: Based on their reflections, the teacher plans to modify the teaching method to include more interactive elements, aiming to increase student engagement.
Rolfe’s Framework of Reflective Practice:
- A nurse reflects on a patient care situation where they made a medication error that resulted in harm to the patient.
- They assess their role in the situation, acknowledging their mistake and the potential consequences it had on the patient.
- They identify that their primary goal was to administer the medication accurately and safely.
- The nurse recognizes that the experience taught them the importance of double-checking medications to prevent errors.
- They acknowledge feeling rushed during the administration and realize that stress may have contributed to the mistake.
- They consider seeking additional training on medication administration protocols to enhance their knowledge and skills.
- The nurse commits to implementing a checklist system for medication administration to reduce the risk of future errors.
- They also plan to discuss the incident with their supervisor and participate in stress management workshops to handle high-pressure situations better.
- The nurse recognizes the broader issue of medication safety in healthcare settings and aims to advocate for better protocols and support systems.
- Models of reflection are structured frameworks for the reflective process with an emphasis on personal and situational analysis and improvement.
- Johns’ model of structured reflection was developed by reflective practices pioneer Christopher Johns for use in the healthcare industry. It is also useful for reflecting on situations where complex decision-making has occurred.
- Kolb’s learning cycle argues learning is based on the cyclical reflection and understanding of lived experiences, with new insights better preparing the individual for similar situations in the future. A third model of reflection, Rolfe’s framework of reflective practice, was also developed for use in the healthcare industry and is based on three simple yet probing questions.
Connected Analysis Frameworks
Other related business frameworks:
- AIDA Model
- Ansoff Matrix
- Business Analysis
- Business Model Canvas
- Business Strategy Frameworks
- Blue Ocean Strategy
- VRIO Framework