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Reflective Learning Essay

1. In your answer, identify the main lines of argument and differences in points of view between the commentators and the author. Justify your own point of view regarding the importance of reflection to individual and organisational performance. DiChiara (2002) states that there are a multitude of companies that seek to create an environment where learning and creativity can flourish, but in practice fall short due to a lack of understanding of what is truly required to facilitate reflective learning.

DiChiara concerns his comments around the means in which the organisation can engage groups to nurture and develop communities where reflective practice takes place. In contrast, Raelin (2002) concentrates on the reflective skills (Raelin’s five principal skills) that can be used by individuals in a group setting to encourage reflective practice. The main focus of DiChiara is around the importance of a ‘safe space’ to provide the environment conducive to reflection and the development of communities of practice.

Indeed, this is identified as the essential building block necessary, which indicates that the responsibility of learning is mainly placed on the organisation and not on the skill of the individual as Raelin suggests. McArthur (2002) uses his commentary to highlight the point that reflective practice does not necessarily require additional time, as reflection can be done during the event, coined as reflection-in-action by Schon (1983). Based on this train of thought, McArthur introduces two related points at which he disagrees or questions the conclusions of Raelin.

Firstly, Raelin sets out guidelines regarding observing judgements where he states reactive thoughts should be examined to allow a ‘more even-handed way of being’, inferring that the reactive observation will ultimately be wrong. McArthur offers an alternative solution where the judgement may actually be correct and it is the method in which the judgement is communicated that is important. Secondly, McArthur questions if the core skills, particularly of testing and probing, are indeed only applicable in group or individual situations as Raelin suggests.

McArthur points out that there are three parts to our thoughts; the reactive and reflective which are internal voices and the collective which is an external voice. Skilled reflective practitioners must be able being able to distinctly separate these thoughts to arrive at the most appropriate response. McArthur argues that it is only through applying all of the core skills that this response can be found, regardless of the type of interaction involved. The obvious difference between Schein (2002) and Raelin is the focus on group or individual reflection.

Schein focuses on private reflection and discusses how this can be realistically achieved. The central tenet of his commentary is that we can find time to reflect on events within our day and perhaps more importantly, this time would not be identifiable as ‘slack’ or wasted time within a disapproving or unsympathetic organisational culture. It could be interpreted that the purpose of this commentary is to trigger individual reflection and that this may in turn provide some of the skill and openness required for group reflection to occur.

If so, this is linked to the conclusion McArthur makes regarding the lack of skill, not time, being the primary reason for not reflecting. I believe there are a few distinct benefits of reflective practice for both the individual and the organisation. Raelin states that reflection offers the opportunity to examine actions of the past, thoughts of the present and decisions of the future and allows all three to be linked. The individual and organisation can use this to allow decisions to be made with a deeper understanding and more confidence that the situation is fairly assessed with the best interest at heart.

Reflection turns experiences in to knowledge and allows skills to be developed to apply this knowledge in other situations with an entirely different context. In my opinion, the importance of reflection to individual performance is based around knowing oneself. By reflecting, the individual is able to develop a more candid assessment of themselves; how they think, what drives them and how they present their thoughts to others. By doing this, insights are gained in to internal assumptions and motivations and this allows better understanding of the true issues hindering performance.

This is a powerful tool for targeting real areas for performance improvement, and by continuing to reflect as the individual takes strides to change will also provides a means of measuring improvement. Based on personal experience, Argyris (1991) accurately describes the importance of reflection to the organisation. That is, without some level of reflective practice there is a real danger of externalising issues and a blame culture being adopted even within organisations with motivated and committed individuals.

The inability to reflect, for whatever reason, results in the true root cause of issues to be missed, which means the same mistakes will be made again and again. All too often we will overlook issues and accept the superficial. In my opinion, ultimately the true value of reflection to organisational performance resides in the ability to ask and find answers to the difficult questions that we otherwise miss or ignore. References Argyris, C. , 1991, “Teaching Smart People How to Learn”, Harvard Business Review, May-June, Pages 99-109. Cameron, S.

, (2001), “The MBA Handbook: Study skills for Postgraduate Management Study”, Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow. DiChiara, P. , Commentary on Raelin, J. , 2002, “”I don’t have time to think! ” Versus the art of reflective practice”, Reflections, Fall, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Pages 66-79. Kolb, D. A. , Rubin I. M. and McIntyre, J. M. , 1974, “Organizational Psychology: An Experiential Approach”, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall. McArthur, P. W. , Commentary on Raelin, J. , 2002, “”I don’t have time to think! “

Versus the art of reflective practice”, Reflections, Fall, Vol.4, Issue 1, Pages 66-79. Orton, S. , (2003), The Higher Education Academy, Social Policy and Social Work. Raelin, J. , 2002, “”I don’t have time to think! ” Versus the art of reflective practice”, Reflections, Fall, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Pages 66-79. Schein, E. H. , Commentary on Raelin, J. , 2002, “”I don’t have time to think! ” Versus the art of reflective practice”, Reflections, Fall, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Pages 66-79. Schon, D. A. , 1983, “The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action”, New York, Basic Books.


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