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1.1 Reflection at work

People in many different careers are expected to be reflective about their work. Doctors, social workers, nurses and teachers are all supposed to be what are known as reflective practitioners. This means that they are supposed to learn from what went well, and from their mistakes, to ensure that they become better at what they do.

The need for such reflection actually applies to a very wide range of work. Would you like to have your car fixed by a mechanic you know never reflected back about whether they had tightened all the wheel nuts?

The basic starting point is that everyone reflects and, if it is done well, it makes it possible to get much more out of any experience – so that learning is more fulfilling and constructive. A good way of developing your reflection skills is to make yourself aware of the process. The following activity should help you tune into it.

Activity 1 Reflection on today

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity.

Start with an actual experience from today; give it a title in your learning journal and then note down a brief answer to each of the following four questions. The last question perhaps is the most important. Keep your notes fairly short.

  1. Who was there?
  2. What was the sequence of events?
  3. Where did this happen?
  4. When did things happen?
  5. What have I learned from this?


You may have chosen something practical like your journey to work or making a meal. Or you may have chosen something more personal. Either is fine, as long as you have reflected on what you learned and, ideally, how this might affect your future actions.