What is reflection? Gillett, Hammond and Martala say that the power lies in ‘being able to help develop an understanding of the way you learn, the subjects you are studying and to define your longer-term goals.’ It can help to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills, both of which are key to academic success.
At its heart, reflection is simply thinking about and evaluating our experience, our perspectives, attributes, and interactions. It is about assessing what went well, what didn't, and why did those things happen. Therefore, reflection provides us with a deeper insight to conclude how to move forward.
The Johns Model of Reflection was implemented in a range of sectors and is considered an integral part of structured reflection
Johns Model of Reflection (MSR)
Johns Model of Reflection (MSR) by Christopher Johns explains the concept of reflection further. It was created in the early nineties for the nursing sector at the Burford Nursing Development Unit.
However, the Johns Model of Reflection was also implemented in a range of other sectors too and is considered an integral part of structured reflection and is based on five cue questions that include more detailed questions to advance the process of reflection.
What was the model influenced by?
Johns’ research on the dialogue between practitioners of a particular occupation and their supervisors was the main influence used in creating this approach and it offers a great way to reflect on and investigate complicated decision-making.
It proposes that there should be an internal and external focus for effective reflection. Internal focus is defined as an individual's own emotions and thoughts, whereas the external focus is on considering the factual situation or occurrences. This is carried out by answering cue questions in the following phases:
Phase one: Describe the experience
The first phase concerns describing the situation. This is done by answering the following questions:
What was asked to do?
What actually was achieved?
How to go about the task?
Why go about the task in that way?
Phase two: Reflection
The second phase is regarding reflection itself. This is done by answering the following questions:
What was achieved?
What consequences occurred from my actions?
How did I feel?
How do others feel?
What could I have done differently?
Phase three: Influencing factors
The third phase considers the factors that influenced the situation by answering the following questions:
What internal and external factors influenced my decisions?
What knowledge did I have?
What knowledge should I have had?
Phase four: Could I have dealt with it better?
The fourth phase is all about identifying areas of improvement using the following questions:
What other options were considered?
What other options were missed and why?
Was my selection criteria correct?
Phase five: Learning
The last phase concerns learning from the previous phases by answering the following questions:
What have I learned?
What will I now change as a result?
How will I stick to this?
Employees in companies of a range of sectors are frequently asked to improve and assess their performance using critical reflection. This can be done in several ways such as learning sheets, portfolios, written assessment tasks and meetings.
What is the best way to reflect?
The methods we each use to best reflect on our actions or experiences can be different for teams and individuals.
Reflecting as an individual
Writing things down is the best way to reflect as it forces you to be clear and concise in your thoughts and also provides a reference for the future. It also creates a higher level of thinking, which enables individuals to take more focused action.
Although not always possible, ideally individuals should discuss their ideas with someone involved in the project, this can help immensely as it provides a different viewpoint. Revisiting your notes periodically also helps reinforce learning.
A productive and successful meeting also allows for personal growth and creates opportunities for each individual to develop their interpersonal skills
Reflecting as a team
This needs to be conducted as a well-chaired meeting to ensure that everyone's opinions and thoughts are aired and discussed before the group decides on the best course of action. A productive and successful meeting also allows for personal growth and creates opportunities for each individual to develop their interpersonal skills.
For this meeting to be effective, the team needs to reach an agreement on what will be done differently next time and focus on what changes will be implemented in the future. It should not be a 'witch hunt' looking to point fingers but rather be skillfully chaired and set up to ensure it is a positive experience for all those involved.
Reflection improves culture
There is a range of ways that employees in companies of a range of sectors can improve and assess their performance using critical reflection, and ideally, it should be ingrained in the culture of any business. If not, individuals and organisations lose valuable lessons.
Interested in this topic? Read The power of reflection time.