The term reflective practice means is identifying and studying past experiences to improve the way that individuals work. Reflective practice a skill that ables one to reflect on their actions such as engaging in a process of continuous learning (Schön, 1983). Reflective practice is important in the health and social field because it is an effective way of gaining confidence and self esteem as a professional. Tate and Sills (2004) imply that the use reflective practice is very current to provide the best possible service for the individuals using the service in the health and social care sector.
The Gibbs reflective cycle provides staged framework for working whilst exploring a new experience (Jasper, 2003). It involves six stages of reflection; the first stage is the description of the experience. The next stage is the individual’s feelings, what was the individual thinking or feeling during this experience. The third stage is during this experience, was the experience positive or negative one. The fourth step is to analyse the experience and what outcome can come out of the whole experience. The fifth step is the conclusion, what could have the individual have done to make it easier for themselves. Lastly, an action plan must be put in to place; what could can the individual do if this experience arose again and what can be done to combat the situation.
The Kolb (1984) reflective cycle includes four stages; the Kolb learning style is developed on the basis of two aspects: they are how a person understands and process the information (Lu et al. 2007). Concrete experimentation is the first step; this is a new situation that an individual has encountered or reinterpretation of an old experience. Kolb implies that we to learn from an experience, individuals must engage in the second step of consciously reflecting on what has happened called ‘reflective observation’ (Dixon, 1999). Reflective observation is key to identify any inconsistencies between the learning experience and understanding. People who find this technique effective prefer readings, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through (McLeod, 2017). The following step is to conceptualise the experience and to create a new idea or modification of the existing concept. The final stage is for the individual to actively experiment their new plan to the world and see the new results.
The Gibbs cycle is developed partly based on the Kolb cycle; both cycles are structured to be able to be used in any learning situation. The Gibbs cycle is more often used by the health and social care industry. In Learning by Doing, Gibbs (1988) outlines the stages for a ‘Structured Debriefing’, which is based on Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle and which encourage deeper reflection (Watton et al. 2001). Furthermore, as both of the cycles highlight the same basic steps both models can be used in any learning experience. Kolb’s model is sometimes referred to as an experiential learning model which simply means learning through experience; Gibbs’ model is sometimes referred to as a model which means learning through repetition (Clifford and Thorpe, 2007).