A load of research has been done on learning and reflective practice and its effectiveness on the practitioners and one of the first people to research reflective Practice was Donald Schon in his book “The Reflective Practitioner” in 1983. Schon was an influential writer on reflection and had two main ways of identifying reflection and they were reflection in action and reflection on action. “The practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation”. (Schon 1983)
Reflective practice has been described as ‘paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions, by examining practice reflectively and reflexively. This leads to developmental insight’. (www.wikipedia.org, 3rd Jan 2011). Reflection is an important part of the learning process and is needed for effective learning. Reflection is a form of self-awareness and learners that can reflect are better able to understand themselves and the learning process. Reflection can help us control over our own learning and achievements. Reflection leads to learning from experience and outlines strengths and weaknesses; by completing action plans to work on weaknesses will lead to continued learning and improvement. Rogers (1996,) states “Reflection on experience to action forms a large part of the learning process”. The process of reflection helps the practitioner to assess, understand and gain knowledge through experience leading to potential improvement and change. This is a positive process that lets me go over and examine and then evaluate so I can develop as a learner and a youth worker.
The ability to reflect on practice helps me to consider my needs and then I plan to meet those needs so I can develop my innovative and learning skills. To assist the learning process, reflection can be a powerful tool to help identify strengths and weaknesses. To develop new skills as a learner I must reflect upon experience to access my own performances and plan for my future needs. Reece and Walker (2000, p.7) states “What is not so natural but very important is that reflection takes place to ensure learning from experience takes place”. To reflect upon my own experiences and to develop my own needs I have evaluated as a learner and as a youth worker. First I must identify my own preferred learning style as everyone learns in different ways. There are many ways to establish your preferred way of learning and as supported by Reece and Walker (2000, p.9) “All students are individuals and no two students learn the same way”. It is important to indicate my learning style in order for me to achieve my highest potential. To identify my learning style will outline my strengths and weaknesses.
Rogers (1996, p.116) states that “Learning takes place in a number of different domains and different strategies are called into play to cope with different types of learning”. Identifying my strengths and weaknesses is important so that I can reflect on the outcome and then improve my skills” Kolb (1984) provides one of the most useful descriptive models available of the adult learning process. He suggests that there are four stages in learning which follow on from each other. Concrete experience is followed by reflection on the experience on a personal basis. This may then be followed by the application of general rules describing the experience, or the application of known theory to it and hence to the experimentation, leading in turn to the next concrete experience. All this may happen in a flash, overnight, over days, or over weeks and months, depending on the topic, and there may be a wheel within wheels process at the same time. (http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm) By reviewing my progress and continuing to aim at my targets I am progressing through the learning cycle, which is important for me to improve on my self-assessing from experience, reflection, learning styles and development of skills.
As I am relatively new to this area of work it is also important to reflect as a youth worker in order for me to be effective and capable within my job. It is necessary for me to reflect on my experiences so far from the year and a half I have spent in college and it’s important for me to continually highlight areas for development while I am on placement. First I must identify the strengths and skills I have acquired and then to plan my development needs. My role requires me develop plans to suit the service users; I feel my current qualifications and experience will develop after my placement. I also feel it is essential to enhance my current knowledge of youth and community work and monitor my progress. I think the important thing to remember is that I am reflecting for my own development.
Learning from class mates and lectures has also been an important method for change in professional practice. Current educational work in this area emphasises the need for safe learning frameworks where the voices of learners and professionals can be really heard and personally responded to. This has brought mutual learning and benefits for the professional and learners’ experience. (Taylor 2009) I feel that talking and thinking together about what is going on can make a big difference to my experience on placement and in the learning environment. Reflection is a way that I can make sense of experiences I have had, either with service users and/or colleagues. When I reflect I begin to make out the main points in detail of an experience, what it tells me about my own skills, why it happens perhaps, what I did well and a plan for what I might do differently in future.
Reflective practice involves thinking about how I preformed and analyse my actions with the aim of improving professional practice. I reflect to identify learning needs; this is that we may not meet the needs of our clients’ needs due to poor knowledge base. Reflective practice also helps identify new opportunities for learning. Identify ways in which we learn best, personal development professional development. It helps us be aware not to get into a set routine, for every clients case is different to the next. Develops awareness of consequences of our actions for example what we say in response to a client may make the situation worse. Regular reflection helps us build theory and most of all it allows us to access what worked well and what doesn’t work well, and to learn from our mistakes and successes. Critically reflective practice is important for the student on work practice. If a student did not use critical reflection while on practice placement one would have bad quality of practice.
Critically reflective practice looks beliefs and assumptions one may have that they did not know of. This is important on practice placement as it deals with discrimination. Racism, sexism, and ageism. It is also important for students as it helps one become more self-aware, on the grounds of a social and political context. It is important as it ‘tunes in’ the student to issues clients face, provides answers and solutions. (The critically reflective, 2008). Reflective practice is important on work placement for many reasons. The adaption of a reflective approach helps the development of a professional. Continuous professional development is adapting an approach in which the person uses their creativeness, and also uses a critical eye. (People’s skills, 2009). Reflective practice is also important as the student can use professional accountability during practice placement. This means workers are accountable for their decisions.
They are responsible. Practitioners need theory to back up their decisions and choices. They make and also justify them. Professional accountability requires theory based arguments to account for the practitioner’s action. Inappropriate responses are consequences of not using reflective practice properly. Inappropriate responses cannot be used using ‘common sense’, as it may cause misinterpretations. Inappropriate responses also increase the chances of the practitioner to react in a way that does not help the client in any aspect. It also worsens the situation. Reflective practice consists of a proactive approach, and using theory and ones knowledge as a framework for effectiveness. Reflective practice is important for the student on practice placement for these reasons. (People’s skills, 2009).
In conclusion, I found the importance of critical and reflection in any practice and it is an approach to professional practice that emphasizes the need for practitioners to avoid standardised, formula responses to the situations they encounter. Reflection is a window through which the practitioner can view and focus self within the context of their own lived experience.
Thompson N. “People Skills second edition” Hampshire and 175 Fifth Avenue New York, Palgrave Macmillan (2002) Thompson S. & Thompson N. “The Critically Reflective Practitioner” Hampshire and 175 Fifth Avenue New York, Palgrave Macmillan (2008) Redmond, Bairbre. (2004) Reflection in Action Developing Reflective Practice in Health and Social Services. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Share, P. & Lalor, K. (2009) Applied Social Care (2nd Ed). Dublin: Gill & Macmillan