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Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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3 Key features of reflection

Reflective thinking requires you to recognise, understand and to define the valuable knowledge and experience you bring to each new situation, to make the connections based on your prior learning and experience (your ‘insight’), and bring these to bear in the context of new events. You become an actively aware and critical learner through this process. As Figure 1 showed, this process starts with you – you need to examine and identify your own baseline position by revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring, and consider how or why you think the way you do. Examining your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions in this way forms the basis of a deeper understanding and higher level of learning required at Master’s level and for professional practice.

What are the key features of reflection?

  • Reflection results in learning:

    It can change your ideas and understanding of the situation.

  • Reflection is an active and dynamic process:

    It can involve reflecting ‘on’ action (past experience), reflecting ‘in’ action (on an incident as it happens), or reflecting ‘for’ action (actions that you may wish to take in the future).

  • Reflection is not a linear process, but cyclic:

    It leads to the development of new ideas which can be used to plan the next stages of learning.

  • Reflection encourages looking at issues from different perspectives:

    It helps you to understand the issue and scrutinise your own values, assumptions and perspectives.