Using a reflection cycle

During my degree, we explored a variety of reflection models, as well as action  inquiry/research models to encourage deeper reflection, and learning. At this point I feel I should be revisiting my work, but it isn’t actually available online anymore, as my server space at the time is no longer there. I will try to make an effort to upload all those modules though.

Most of my modules I completed as websites. It was a nice way to take the assignments apart, and then to put them back together. I feel as though I successfully did two things during my degree: authentic technology integration, and inquiry-based learning. As such, I feel like I’m able to transfer this to my classroom much more easily than if I hadn’t learned this way myself. The PYP is all about inquiry-based learning and teaching, as well as about the authentic development of key skills (or transdisciplinary skills, as they call them). While the current skills do not explicitly refer to technology (and the question remains open whether we need to refer to such skills explicitly), I believe that literacy development, communication skills, research skills, social skills, thinking skills and even self-management skills, all include a technology component. That is my perception though, and I am a very techy person. So again, there might be need to make it explicit.

Let me focus on the actual point of this post: reflection models. There are plenty of them out there, and here are a few just to demonstrate what I’m talking about.


The reflective cycle by Gibbs (1988). Photo from Oxford Brookes.

Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (1984) from Leeds University

And there are plenty of others, ranging from “What? So what? Now what?” to Bloom’s Taxonomy (which the Thinking Skills as mentioned above are quite obviously based on). What we have to ask ourselves first though is: What is our purpose in using such a model? And what do I feel comfortable with? I personally find Kolb hard to apply (and yet used him particularly because of that in one of my action inquiries) and Gibbs easy and meaningful. That has had an effect on my practice though, because I brought Gibbs into my teaching. And just writing this now, I never gave students the opportunity to choose a model themselves!
Gibbs is perfect in situations that create or trigger a lot of feelings and emotions. When we feel like we failed, or were treated unfairly. Or when we are so happy, or proud of ourselves. It is a good model that deals with feelings, but also separates them from the facts.

Any model will do, and in some cases you might want to mix and match. We don’t always need a model, I am sure most of you reflect all the time, without structuring the process. But this is the point: Structuring our reflection may sometimes be needed. And it can lead to very deep and meaningful learning. It can lead to turmoil, as we reveal more of our thinking and we might find the need to challenge ourselves. If we stay open-minded and determined to learn though, this is just what we need!

Have you ever used a reflection model? Which ones are your preferred methods of reflecting?

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3 thoughts on “Using a reflection cycle

  1. Nice post. I like the idea of a reflection model. The only one I knew was the PYP cycle… choose-act-reflect.
    I often use some of the Project Zero thinking routines for getting kids to reflect.

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