What is Reflective Learning?
There is no one definition of reflective learning as it is an idea based on looking further into a subject or matter in depth. Then analysing it and processing it to a different level. It is a learning skill that requires ongoing development through further education and into a career. Evelyn M Boyd and Ann W Fales state that reflective learning is the process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern, triggered by an experience, which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self, and which results in a changed conceptual perspective. Evelyn M. Boyd and Ann W. Fales. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Journal of Humanistic Psychology SPRING 1983 vol. 23 no. 2 99-117 John Dewey in the early 21st century had a theory that Personal Development had to be from the personal perspective. Over recent times he had observed that learning practises had become impersonal and in order to achieve a greater understanding of learning, a person had to use “I.” His belief was ‘Active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and further conclusions to which it leads…it includes a conscious and voluntary effort to establish belief upon a firm basis of evidence and rationality’ (Dewey, 1933).
My understanding of the term is that a review of information gathered or imparted needs to be looked at later in time to re-evaluate your interpretation and understanding of it and its relevance to you. It also allows an individual to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and develop their learning skills over time allowing them to review and improve their work. During a learning process such as the Foundation Degree in Business Management, reflection, is vital to understanding learning skills and career pathway but also gaining a greater insight into fellow pupils learning styles and develop the students’ ability to learn and progress through the modules. Improving the quality of work and gaining a greater understanding of their own skills and strengths throughout time at college or university. Students may have difficulty in regarding a Reflective Learning module as a serious part of study. The subject or module is down to the individuals’ attempts to understand themselves and honesty plays a large role in the process. Should an individual decide to ignore their weak points and only focus on their perceived strengths, then they miss the opportunity to improve their weak skills and don’t reflect on the correct areas of work.
This could result in not gaining the important key skills for the workplace and may not achieve the level of degree they expect. Many academics also struggle with the subject due to the fact it is written in the first person whereas academic work is always in the third person. The ability to re-frame information and analyse an experience is a key skill in many graduate jobs. This skill will be used going forward within the work environment as part of Personal Development. Reflection within business development and project work will be expected. To know how to move forward in business is to know where it is coming from. Questions would be asked if they had learnt from previous experience or what issues had arisen that needed to be addressed or could be done differently or improved upon. Therefore the need to prove this learned skill is vital.
David Kolb (1984) is well known for his development of the Kolb cycle – or cycle of experiential learning. Kolb developed his theory in the 1980’s his ideas are used today as part of reflective learning. This is a simplified version of his learning cycle.
(have an experience)
Active experimentation Reflective observation (try out what you have learned) (reflect on the experience) ↑ ↓
(learn from the experience)
← Kolb’s theory ELT is now considered by academics, business managers, tutors and trainers to have discovered and developed a fundamental concept that explains human learning behaviour and that helps others to learn. It is used to this day in many forms throughout academia and business.
‘Experiential Learning: As the Source of Learning And Development’ 1984 Prentice Hall INC