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This paper will discuss the reflective practice and experiential learning and how it enhances the individual’s personality leading to personal development planning. First, the paper will define reflection and reflective writing. Secondly, it will tell about the different models of reflection including their similarities and differences. The next discussion will be on the principal features of reflection and its benefits. This document concludes that reflection is really beneficial to learning and that it improves the individual’s development.

Reflection is thinking of self, whether during or after the experience as if it is a view by which a person can see and concentrate himself on the perspective of a particular incident so as to face, know, and act on solving conflict between individual’s visualization and real experience (Becoming reflective 2004).  It is around the idea of ‘learning and thinking’ (Moon 2004); learning is incomplete if there will be no reflection (Boyd, Dooley, & Moore 2010). According to Moon (2004), it can be shown in different forms such as speech, music, and graphic styles among others; and this can likewise be done through reflective writing. Reflective writing is noting down one’s own thoughts, experiences, and emerging views of reflection that normally have a purpose: becoming clearer about something (Moon 2004; Boyd, Dooley, & Moore 2010). With all that has been said here, we know that reflection is a self-discussion of an event that occurred where we think and learn, and it can be shown in various forms but most specifically through reflective writing.

There are different models of reflection, but this document will focus on three (3) of them which are: Gibbs’ reflective cycle, John’s structured model of reflection, and Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. Speaking about Gibbs’ model, it has six (6) stages, and each provides a prompt on how to go about it (Jasper 2003). In the description stage, it illustrates in detail the incident that the individual is pondering upon and focuses on the question ‘What happened?’ (Jasper 2003). This stage includes the details of the people involved and their connection to the event, the individual’s part in it, and the context of the situation. In the feelings stage, the person looks back and delves into the images occurring in his head focusing on the question ‘What were you thinking and feeling?’ (Jasper 2003). In the stage 3, which is the evaluation stage, the individual assesses and decides what happened; the main query occurring is ‘what was good or bad about the experience?’ (Jasper 2003). The analysis stage categorizes the situation into parts and explores in them separately trying to answer the question ‘What sense can you make of the situation?’ (Jasper 2003). With regards to the conclusion stage, the person is likely to create a view of his own and others behavior as to how they play a part in the situation as it answers the question ‘What could have you done differently?’ (Jasper 2003). In the final stage, which is the action planning, the individual already plans out how to react appropriately in case the situation encountered will happen again. This reflection model of Gibbs puts a highlight on feelings as major parts of reflections are brought about by feelings, and decisions are made according to feelings (Becoming reflective 2004).

Another model of reflection is that of Kolb. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle illustrates learning as the process where the knowledge is developed through the ‘transformation of experience’ (Boyd, Dooley, & Moore 2010). In this cycle, it is indicated that, from the individual’s real experience, there will be observations and reflections based on the conceptual ideas and overviews that are formed, and these will be used as experimentation in case the circumstance will reoccur. As we can see in this cycle, the second stage is reflection which means the experience is being thought of. It is indicated that a significant event will be meaningless if it is not thoroughly regarded for its true potential as reflection allows the individual to include students to connect concepts to the actual experience (Boyd, Dooley, & Moore 2010).

The third model is Johns’s model of reflection in which he provided five (5) cue questions with sub-questions in order to be more thorough in terms of the reflection process (Jasper 2003).  Similar to Gibbs’ model, the first question focuses on the account of the experience taking into consideration the actual occurrence, the significant factors that took part, the environment or the conditions, and the clarification for reflection. The second query now focuses on the reflection. In this stage, purpose of the reflection, results, and feelings regarding actions performed during the actual experience to the individual and other people are being taken into account. Next is the observation of the reasons whether internal or external that affected the actions or the decision and some sort of information that should have impacted the decision are being considered. With this, it leads to the 4th question where the person is already considering the alternative choices and its consequences that could have happenduring the actual experience. As the person considers the alternative choices, the learning comes in where he relates this to the past incident and encountering it again in the future. Moreover, this will bring change or improvement in the paradigms of the person in terms of the theoretical, ethical, cultural, and personal factors.

The three models of reflection are almost the same as all they are based on actual experience that leads to observation or reflection based on what was felt or sensed about the incident. From that, the individual makes other choices by evaluating the situation using other sources of information taking into consideration some assumptions of other views and theoretical concepts. With a series of choices, the individual can now resolve the issue of what to do next and implement it the next time the event will happen again.

The difference cannot be somehow described really as difference as there are just some stages in that of Gibbs’ model that are included in one stage of John’s and Kolb’s reflective cycle. Further, there are stages in that of Kolb and John that are being dissected in that of Gibbs’ framework of reflection. As such, these models are almost similar to each other.

From the models identified, it can be concluded that the principal features of reflection are: valuable knowledge, ‘reflexivity’, being attentive, ‘commitment’, disagreement, thorough consideration, and ‘empowerment’ (Becoming reflective 2004). The valuable knowledge is gained by the person’s awareness of the incident where the individual thinks, analyses, and envisions what needs to be done and responds accordingly. Reflexivity is recalling and assessing individual’s improvement after a while in ways that perceptions appear and influence future experiences. Next is attentiveness where the individual unlocks himself, and this action is a vigorous revelation of the cure to self-righteousness, paradigms and ‘blindness’. The thing that complements issues of disagreements during the reflection is the commitment, and this aids a person in facing undesirable circumstances or outcomes. The disagreements, however, faced during this occurrence is an innovative anxiety amid our visualization of experience and the present reality that creates a chance for the individual to learn. Beyond commitment and disagreement, there is this careful consideration which is the cause for making good decisions and executed in an acceptable way. However, there are some obstacles hindering people from responding differently such as social norms, power relationships, and previous learning. These disagreements, careful consideration, and commitment give individual the power to perform as caused by reflection, and this is what we call empowerment. These features are quite present and seen as essential to reflection.

Because of the said elements, reflection and writing develops individual’s behaviors in terms of ‘self-determination, self-legislation, meaningfulness, purposefulness, confidence, active-striving, planning and responsibility (Becoming Reflective 2004). All want to make particular things occur to reach desirable outcomes and to look for opportunities directing a more optimistic course (Becoming Reflective 2004). As such, it can be said that reflection regarding self-growth and its impact can only be understood when people tell their stories, this helps the person in moving from a world of ambiguity to a ground of lucidity (Boyd, Doole & Moore 2010).

Reflection really helps in personal development planning. Along with the different models discussed, it can be seen that the individual is using reflective thinking in a way of examining the event that occurred and the factors that influenced it. With that, the individual comes up with a plan for execution in case the event will happen again in the future. Out of the reflection process, the principal features of it are wisdom, commitment, conflict, thorough consideration, understanding and empowerment. Also, reflection significantly contributes to personal growth as it improves behavior, purpose, and paradigms. All these are connected and contributory to the self-development planning of an individual. 

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