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Development of Personal Reflection February 20, 2007

Posted by alwilliams in Reflection.

Jarvis (1994) suggests that knowledge of a situation itself can be an end to the process.  I think this is equally valuable to any potential resultant action we might take.  We should not believe that we must act on our conclusions if this is not necessary.  Indeed a consideration of a present situation may impact our decisions at a later date.  The time for reflection therefore should be also valued.  Times for reflection or personal evaluation need to occur for us to gain a better understanding of our role at work and this is perhaps more fundamental than what structure of reflection we choose to use.

It has been noted in the last blog that the models and theories analysed are less useful in aiding my understanding of reflection itself than it does experiential learning (or what I actually consider ‘reflective learning’).  Never the less they have given me a new appreciation of how important and useful the reflective process can be for personal development.  Previously, structured reflection was considered a measurement tool corporations use to ensure that they were getting value for money and that you delivering what is required.  It is now considered useful in its own right and that structuring the process can provide a greater appreciation of what is being reflected on.  Johns (2000) rightly suggests that concentration and time is required to make the most out of reflection.  This is logical, but often difficult to achieve in a office environment.  It is important though and needs applying to future periods of reflection.

There is also a need to appreciate that reflection itself is fluid and that different avenues need to be explored to provide a more considered understanding of the situation or ‘subject’ of reflection. As the idea of ‘types’ demonstrates we all approach a situation differently and this is influenced by certain characteristics.  Therefore a reflective structure that is personally useful should also be subject to development and one that is made to suit to the contexts I operate in (for example the marketing industry, a small team, few direct collegues in my discipline).  Above we found that structuring the process is important.  I believe that my personal characteristics influence my work to a fair degree and as such think it is also necessary to incorporate this into an action plan.  It will ensure my plan specifically helps me in improving the most relevant areas of my existance.The need for development in both our short (a few days) and mid-term (a few years) engagement with work is deemed important.  Reflective models are less useful in our long term (20 years to life time) development as they are generally used for considering specific, termporary situations.  Additionally if this time scale was adopted, by the time we reach the ‘end’, my environment may have completely changed to the point where the aim is not feasible. Alternatively I may have changed the measurement for personal success, all rendering this futile. To remedy this my long term goal needs to be fairly loose, or perhaps just guiding sentiments.  This may leave my resultant plan weak and under-defined. I will therefore focus on a more short term actions (a few days to months period).The cyclical models of Kolb and Fry (1975), and Jarvis (1994) have created an understanding that the process of reflection is important.  As a structure of reflection has also been noted as important, I am adopting the relevant parts of Johns (2000) model, which was discussed on my last blog.  The questions of course need to be tailored on my needs as a marketer, rather than for the nursing industry, for whom it was created.  As my goal is reflecting on my general position today, rather than on a specific situation, the focus needs to centre on my feelings and experiences.  Questions like “How were others feeling” is therefore less relevant here than the would be in nursing situations.  Similarly “consequences of alternative actions” will only be considered for myself rather than patients etc.Despite these points arguably being quite obvious, I think that in certain situations I would not take the time to think about these elements- as often I am consumed by emotional and irrational thought.  Thus, ensuring the 5 areas suggested by Johns (2000); aesthetics, personal (feeling), ethics, empirics and reflexivity are all considered to provide a holistic understanding is important. 

The criteria set out below is an interpretation of Johns (2000) areas for reflection.  I will begin to analyse the various aspects of my professional life using these considerations.

1. Understanding the events of what happened (in the situation)
2. The ethics surrounding our thoughts and actions at the time
3. Our personal feeling and interpretation of the situation
4. Understanding what knowledge or understanding would have changed the situation
5. Understanding if this resulted from past experience, how it fits in with my beliefs and how I feel about things in retrospect (after reflecting on the last points)



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