Professor Graham Gibbs published his Reflective Cycle in his book ‘Learning by Doing’ in 1988. It was published for people who find that they learn best from experience. They believe that if they do not reflect on their experience, it becomes hard for them to learn anything at all and they are unable to do better next time. People use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle to make sense of situations at work so that they can understand what they did well and what they could do better next time. As adult education professor David Boud explained, “Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning.”
When a person is going through an experience, he is subconsciously learning something. Then, it might be difficult for him to put emotions, events, and thoughts into a chronological order of events, however, if he rethinks and reevaluates his experience, it will be easier for him to categorize emotions and events in a systematic order. It will also enable him to compare what happened to the consequences of the event.
There are six stages on which Gibbs reflective model is based upon:
This stage encourages describing the situation. Questions like what happened, where did it happen, what were you doing there, who else was there, what did they do, what was the result of the situation should be answered here.
This stage is about what that person thought or felt when a particular situation took place. This takes time as sometimes people find it hard to be open about their feelings.
This stage requires a person to evaluate both negative and positive of the situation. What good happened, what bad happened, why it happened, such questions need to be answered while evaluating.
Analysis of the situation is done to analyze what happened from another perspective. It is also a way of looking at the situation from someone else’s perception. One needs to brainstorm ideas that could be applied to their knowledge. Here the person needs to stop thinking about what he felt, instead, he needs to see what was going on to make sense of the situation and to understand the situation in a better way.
Here the reflector needs to draw a conclusion based on his analysis. He needs to find out what he learned from the situation or the way he did something and what could have been done differently. What better he could have done and how could he have done it.
At this step, the person using the Gibbs model of reflection needs to plan what he will do next time if he finds himself in a similar situation. He needs to ask questions to him like what will he do if something like that happens again or how will he develop the required skills.
Gibbs model of reflection is now the most common type of reflection used for academic purposes, especially for healthcare and education. It has proven to be a great working model because of its clarity and precise structure. It offers a framework for examining experiences and since it is a cycle, therefore, it allows a person to evaluate, analyze, learn and plan for the things that went well for him and those that did not go well with him. Reflective essays are also written to provide insight into a particular event by reflecting upon the circumstances of the situation.