Reflection on influences on reflection


What is reflective learning and how can one develop one’s own reflective practice and that of one’s students? These are the questions I have been considering while I have been reading the book “A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice” by Jenny Moon and participating in an online course on Reflective Learning at Oxford Brookes.

It strikes me that one of the main things I have learned from the course/book is that the context or frame of reference in which reflection takes place is key. Already I have found that the following affect reflection:

  • emotional state
  • time after the event
  • input from other people enabling a clearer view of multiple perspectives – and the mix of people that it is possible to get feedback from (e.g., colleagues and/or students will give different kinds of feedback)
  • whether the reflection is public or private – in public I would be prepared to say that I have learned from a challenging situation but would find it difficult to admit that I actually made a mistake or got something wrong
  • whether reflection takes place as part of formal learning or more ad hoc private professional development

There are undoubtedly many more factors!  So how can one become more aware of and make allowances for and/or change the frame of reference in which reflection takes place?

This is one of the areas in which the concepts of flow and meditation or prayer are relevant. These are concerned with putting oneself into a conducive (e.g., reflective) state or frame of mind. What can I learn from those domains to support reflection on learning and/or practice?  Many of the exercises to aid reflection such as those in Jenny Moon’s book, that develop reflective thinking and writing, are identical with exercises I have read about or used in the past in a daily writing journal, e.g., an imagined dialogue. Yet another example where it can pay to look at other domains of interest to find relevant knowledge and to synthesise it it in a potentially new way.