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What is Reflection?

Reflection is a type of critical thinking that supports you to learn from your experiences, and is an important personal and professional skill.  

Reflection includes looking back critically and reflective practice pushes you to considering how this changes your future actions – a key personal and professional skill. 

When you reflect, you really take notice of what you are doing or have done, the impact that this has and your feelings. You make sense of this information or insight and use this self-awareness to enhance or develop towards your ‘future me’.

You are actively reflecting when:

  • You recognise your strengths – and identify ways to make the most of these
  • You notice what worked for you and make sure you do this again or build on this in similar situations
  • You think while you are in the middle of doing something and adapt quickly in real time
  • You test out doing something a bit differently and notice what went well or what didn’t
  • You take feedback on board and do something differently next time
  • You think about why you reacted in a certain way, and decide how this will impact your actions in future
  • You have an experience that you weren’t expecting – and feel that either this went well or should have gone better and are able to review and make sense of what happened
  • You learn from your mistakes
  • You notice what someone else is doing, think about how this could be useful for you and use this learning to try something different

Reflection is the skill that enables us to increase our self-awareness and awareness of others (both associated with emotional intelligence). By making reflection a habit, you can ensure you are making the most of opportunities to learn and develop towards your future me.

If you look at dictionary definitions, reflection is associated with the act of deep thinking and also mirror images. Both definitions are useful. You may have come across reflection in your studies, though it might have been described in different ways:

The words analyse, evaluate, critically review, critical thinking are all associated with deep thinking. The phrases, deliberate practice or reflective practice are associated with what this means in practice.