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About this book

This is the second edition of Barbara Bassot's hugely popular book is a uniquely inspiring introduction to critically reflective practice. Using bite-sized theory combined with plentiful guidance and supporting activities, this book gives the reader a place to reflect on their learning and use writing as a tool for developing their thinking.

Critical reflection is an essential skill for anyone undertaking qualifying professional programmes such as social work, nursing, health, teaching, childhood studies and youth and community work degrees. Whether being taught as a discrete module or as a major theme embedded in all teaching, this is essential reading for anyone wanting to improve their practise and deliver the best service possible.

Table of Contents

11. More space for reflection

Abstract
Part 2 offers you more space for reflective writing and contains a number of activities and quotes to help inspire you. The activities are designed to help you to continue to reflect critically on your learning and development. The quotes offer insights from a number of writers into different aspects of reflection, like the quotes in Part 1. How you use these pages is up to you and you should feel free to use them as suits you best at the time. Remember to date your writing for the following two reasons; first, it is very easy to forget when things happened and, second, it is good to look back and see how your work is developing over time.
Barbara Bassot

12. More space for reflection

Abstract
Part 3 offers you the opportunity to look forward and focus on your career development. It is important to understand that the world of work is changing at a rapid rate, and that this brings challenges to people in all areas of the labour market as they recognise the need to think about the future differently. The Career Learning and Development (CLD) Bridge model is introduced as a means of illustrating this, followed by a number of activities to help you to work towards career happiness, build career resilience and establish career growth.
Barbara Bassot

Models and tools for reflection

Frontmatter

1. Beginnings

Abstract
When we start anything new, such as a new course or job, there are almost always challenges along the way. Change can be both exciting and daunting at the same time, even when the change is something you have been looking forward to. You are probably starting something new at the moment and so have begun a process of transition.Various words come to mind to describe a transition and some of them are as follows: ❍ Exciting ❍ New ❍ Different ❍ Scary ❍ Taxing ❍ Emotional You may be able to think of others. During this process of transition you may feel or experience some, or even all, of these. A useful model of transition is one put forward by Bridges (2004). Bridges argues that all transitions start with endings and finish with new beginnings; it has three stages. Stage one, ‘endings’, asserts that we all experience loss at the beginning of the transition process as we let go of what is behind us. Even if we dislike our current situation and are moving onto something new and different we experience loss, as most of us prefer what we know (even when we dislike it) to the unknown. This is followed by stage two, ‘the neutral zone’; this is generally an uncomfortable place where we can feel anxious and uncertain about what lies ahead. It could be described as a state of ‘limbo’. But Bridges argues that we need to spend time here so that we can discover what we should do next. The final stage is ‘new beginnings’, as we move forward into the next phase of our lives. It is particularly interesting to note that all three stages overlap; so we can still be experiencing loss, whilst feeling uncertain about the future after we have begun something new.
Barbara Bassot

2. Starting to Write Reflectively

Abstract
In order to begin writing reflectively, you need to understand what reflective writing is, and equally what it is not. Here are some characteristics of reflective writing. Starting to write reflectively This section will: ❍ Help you begin to understand what reflective writing is ❍ Enable you to understand the role of writing in reflection ❍ Show you how writing sharpens your focus ❍ Help you to start to write reflectively ❍ Give you a structure for reflective writing Reflective writing is: ❍ Always written in the first person (I …) with a focus on yourself ❍ Generally more personal than other forms of academic writing ❍ Helpful when you are asked to evaluate your experiences ❍ Focused on your experiences, thoughts, feelings and assumptions ❍ A form of self-supervision ❍ Honest and spontaneous ❍ Subjective ❍ A record of your thoughts and experiences that you can return to ❍ An investment of time. Reflective writing helps us to link our ideas together and discover meanings from the things we see and experience. Our understandings become broader and deeper as we question our approaches to people and circumstances. Like any other skill, reflective writing is one that will improve with practice. Indeed, reflection itself is a skill which also improves over time. As you progress, you will find that your learning will become deeper as a result of your investment of time in writing reflectively.
Barbara Bassot

3. Learning from Experience

Abstract
When you are new to reflective practice, a simple, straightforward model can be a useful way of helping you to get started; the ERA model (Jasper, 2003) is one of these. ERA stands for Experience ? Reflection ? Action and is an easy model to remember when you are in the early stages of your studies. Often it is depicted as a triangle with one of the letters at each point on the triangle with arrows from E to R to A. Learning from experience This section will: ❍ Help you begin to understand how we learn from experience ❍ Introduce you to a number of theoretical models of experiential learning ❍ Encourage you to focus on positive experiences as well as problematic ones ❍ Help you to recognise that as well as making progress we can also regress When you are new to reflective practice, a simple, straightforward model can be a useful way of helping you to get started; the ERA model (Jasper, 2003) is one of these. ERA stands for Experience Reflection Action and is an easy model to remember when you are in the early stages of your studies. Often it is depicted as a triangle with one of the letters at each point on the triangle with arrows from E to R to A. The components of ERA can be explained as follows: ❍ Experience – this can be anything that has happened recently that you feel has some significance. It could also be something from the past that has come to your attention more recently. ❍ Reflection – this takes place afterwards and the reflective processes are how we learn from the experience. Reflection can also involve thinking about how we might respond in the future, and as we progress, it can also happen during an experience. ❍ Action – this follows the learning and is concerned with the action we then take following the experience, as our new perspectives then feed into the next experience.
Barbara Bassot

4. The Practice of Reflection

Abstract
Th e word ‘professional’ is one that we hear being used frequently, but what does it actually mean? Sometimes we hear people say, ‘Well, that wasn’t very professional, was it?’ You may be on a course of professional training or be engaged in continuing professional development; either way it is worth spending some time considering what being a professional means. Learning from feedback This section will: ❍ Help you to understand what constitutes good and bad feedback ❍ Introduce you to the concept of critical friendship ❍ Introduce you to the Johari Window model for feedback and self-disclosure ❍ Help you to think about the settings where feedback can occur ❍ Understand the concept of feed forward Good feedback is: ❍ Respectful ❍ Helpful and supportive ❍ Honest ❍ Specific and focused on behaviour that can be changed or developed ❍ Timely ❍ Limited in amount – there is only so much feedback a person can cope with at any one time ❍ Clear and clarified if necessary, to avoid misunderstandings ❍ Focused on positives with some points for further development to enable the person to make progress ❍ Motivating. Good feedback is not: ❍ Hurtful ❍ Accusatory ❍ Unhelpful ❍ Undermining ❍ Judgemental ❍ General and focused on personal issues ❍ Too much to take in at once ❍ Vague and woolly ❍ Only focused on negatives.
Barbara Bassot

5. Learning from Feedback

Abstract
Good feedback is vital for professional growth and development, so it is important to understand what it is and what it is not. On professional courses, and in professional practice generally, you will receive feedback and will also be asked to give it to others. Learning from feedback This section will: ❍ Help you to understand what constitutes good and bad feedback ❍ Introduce you to the concept of critical friendship ❍ Introduce you to the Johari Window model for feedback and self-disclosure ❍ Help you to think about the settings where feedback can occur ❍ Understand the concept of feed forward Good feedback is: ❍ Respectful ❍ Helpful and supportive ❍ Honest ❍ Specific and focused on behaviour that can be changed or developed ❍ Timely ❍ Limited in amount – there is only so much feedback a person can cope with at any one time ❍ Clear and clarified if necessary, to avoid misunderstandings ❍ Focused on positives with some points for further development to enable the person to make progress ❍ Motivating. Good feedback is not: ❍ Hurtful ❍ Accusatory ❍ Unhelpful ❍ Undermining ❍ Judgemental ❍ General and focused on personal issues ❍ Too much to take in at once ❍ Vague and woolly ❍ Only focused on negatives.
Barbara Bassot

6. Feelings and Professional Practice

Abstract
As human beings we all have emotional responses to people and situations. However, we often fail to understand what triggers these responses and why they can be so powerful at any given time. No doubt we have all experienced situations where we have said things or reacted in a certain way and have immediately regretted what we have said or done. Riches (2012) explains that the reason this happens is because of what she calls the Almond Effect. Feelings and professional practice This section will: ❍ Introduce you to the Almond Effect ❍ Help you to understand that our memories and feelings are stored together in our brains ❍ Introduce you to two models of reflection that focus on feelings as a source of learning ❍ Help you to understand that our feelings can be a guide to assumptions we might be making Neuroscience shows that the human brain is designed to respond to threatening situations with a ‘flight or fight’ response. These responses are usually automatic and are the result of the hard-wiring of our neural pathways. They have been learned through the process of evolution and have played a vital part in the survival of the human race. Coming from the Greek word for almond, the amygdalae (we each have two of them) are almondshaped parts of the brain that play a vital role in stimulating and regulating our emotional responses to situations and people, particularly in relation to fear. In short, they prompt a ‘flight or fight’ response where appropriate. Because of our amygdalae we can also sense emotional responses in other people. Our instinctive emotional responses always happen first, followed by our rational responses.
Barbara Bassot

7. Assumptions

Abstract
In Theme 3, we examined Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle. In this process, we have an experience, reflect on it and draw out some general principles and any new knowledge that can then be applied as we prepare for the next experience. This type of learning is valuable in day-to-day professional practice and can be described as ‘single-loop learning’ (Argyris and Schön, 1974). Assumptions This section will: ❍ Introduce you to the keys terms reflection, reflectivity and reflexivity ❍ Introduce you to the concept of double-loop learning ❍ Discuss how we can challenge our assumptions by using the Ladder of Inference ❍ Discuss Mezirow’s seven levels of reflectivity that can lead to perspective transformation ❍ Introduce you to a model that helps you to challenge your limiting assumptions However, in order to take professional learning to a deeper level we need to begin to challenge our own assumptions and our established ways of doing things. Assumptions are things that over time we have begun to take for granted. We do this to such an extent that we no longer question them or even think about them. In many circumstances, assumptions are valuable, as they prevent us from needing to think about every aspect of our lives in detail. For example, if we had to think closely regarding what to do each time we made a cup of tea, life would be exhausting! Instead, we draw on our past experiences and make it somewhat automatically. However, if we apply this to professional practice with people, this kind of ‘automatic pilot’ becomes very risky, as it is here that prejudice and discriminatory practices can be rooted. Critically reflective practice encourages us to delve beneath the surface of our long-held ideas and paradigms, in order to challenge our assumptions. Here, the concept of double-loop learning (Argyris and Schön, 1974) is very helpful.
Barbara Bassot

8. Ethics and Values

Abstract
In order to practise in a critically reflective way, an understanding of your own values is important. Often the assumptions we make about people and situations (see Theme 7) are based on our values, so having an understanding of them will be vital in professional practice. Many professional courses include modules on ethics and values and, as part of these, a range of theoretical approaches are considered. The terms themselves are complex and not easy to define, but Knowles and Lander’s (2012) work provides a helpful and practical introduction to this whole area. Ethics and values This section will: ❍ Introduce you to the key terms ‘ethics’ and ‘values’ ❍ Introduce you to the concept of Transactional Analysis drivers ❍ Help you to think about the impact of your values on your professional practice ❍ Establish the importance of considering issues of power in professional practice In discussing definitions of ethics and values, Knowles and Lander (2012) suggest that values are things that we feel are important to us – in a literal sense, they are things that we value. These values are linked with our beliefs about the world and how it should operate. Ethics then, are sets of rules that help us to know how to act and behave correctly in relation to our values. Here is a very simple example: I value honesty and believe it to be important, so I do not tell lies. Values can be personal and professional. Our personal values are deep-rooted and will often stem from those things that we have learned to recognise as being important, usually from a very young age. Such values can include things like honesty, hard work and the importance of family. Personal values are always culturally situated and reflect the social context of the individual.
Barbara Bassot

9. Reflecting With Others

Abstract
When examining a particular term, it is usually helpful to start with a definition of it. However, in relation to supervision this is difficult, because how it is defined will depend on the particular professional context. This means that it will be important to check the meaning of supervision within your particular work setting. It is important to emphasise that the kind of supervision we are discussing here should not be confused with that usually provided by your line manager, which tends to focus on the achievement (or otherwise) of set goals and targets. One big issue within the literature on supervision is whether or not it should be provided by a practitioner’s manager. Some professionals would argue that this should not be the case, whilst others would argue that it can be helpful. In some circumstances there is simply no choice. Reflecting with others This section will: ❍ Discuss what makes good supervision ❍ Introduce you to a model for supervision ❍ Help you to engage effectively with supervision ❍ Introduce you to the concept of the reflective conversation ❍ Discuss the value of reflecting in groups The overall purpose of supervision is to encourage professionals to reflect on their practice in a deeper way in order to enhance their professional development. This is shown in Figure 5. So far, the main emphasis within this journal has been on reflection as an individual activity. Whilst this is very important, there is no doubt that much can be learned from reflecting with others. This process gives us vital feedback in relation to our development and enables us to see things that we simply would not see otherwise (see Theme 5).
Barbara Bassot

10. Bringing It All Together and Moving Forward

Abstract
In this journal, we have examined a range of theoretical approaches and practical issues in relation to reflective practice. We began our journey with an exploration of some seminal literature on reflective practice, which encourages us to learn from our professional experience by evaluating it, in order to improve it. We then progressed towards our destination of critically reflective practice by examining the role of feelings in relation to professional practice, followed by a consideration of how we make assumptions and the importance of challenging these in order to practise in a critically reflective way. To do this, the importance of considering our own ethics and values was discussed and the importance of reflecting with others was highlighted as part of this process. Bringing it all together and moving forward This section will: ❍ Introduce you to the Integrated Reflective Cycle ❍ Discuss two seminal theories in relation to the management of change ❍ Emphasise the importance of managing stress ❍ Introduce you to Johns’ work on reflection as a way of being ❍ Encourage you to engage in Senge’s Personal Mastery The Integrated Reflective Cycle (Bassot, 2013) shown in Figure 6 draws on several of these approaches. It is useful to compare and contrast different theories, as they often have their relative strengths and weaknesses. In this cycle, I highlight the strengths of a number of theoretical models and have posed questions around the cycle in order to prompt your thinking. Taking a questioning approach to your professional practice is an excellent way of delving deeper into not only what you did, but why – a key feature of critically reflective practice. Clearly, this approach is not completely new, as this cycle draws on some of the questions posed by Gibbs (1998) and Johns (2009).
Barbara Bassot
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