|Written by Malcolm Macmillan, RGU|
|Friday, 10 March 2006|
Page 1 of 4Malcolm Macmillan, Distance Learning Co-ordinator at Robert Gordon University guides us through the concept of Reflective Practice…
“...we must find ways of connecting our knowledge and understanding of society, policy and people with the actions we will take as social workers. If we are to practise from this knowledge and theory, we must have ways of thinking which turn thinking into practice action. Reflection is a way of doing this.”
(Payne, M. (2002). P123)
Reflective Practice is a process through which practitioners consider their work practice with a view to improve that practice in a manner that will benefit the service user. The improvements may also benefit the practitioner and the professional body as methods of working are made more effective. Through such reflection individual practitioners allow for Continual Professional Development as practitioners further their Post Qualifying training recognising the need for enhancing the knowledge and competencies attained through accredited awards.
There are many perspectives on Reflective Practice but the work of Donald Allan Schön (1930 – 1997) has greatly influenced the area of Reflective Practice. The concepts of “Reflection-in-Action” and “Reflection-on-Action” (Schön, D. (1983)) describe the process of reflection in situ and after the event or specific piece of practice consecutively.
To further explain the process of “Reflection-in-Action” read the following case study:
“A care worker was walking along the road with Jamie. Jamie required some assistance with balance whilst walking therefore took an arm of the care worker. As they walked the care worker noticed a man walking with a dog on a lead. From knowledge from past experience and reports from colleagues regarding Jamie the care worker knew this would cause Jamie a lot of distress. This is where the “Reflection-in-Action” process is put into practice. Jamie saw the dog and became agitated so the care worker took up a position between Jamie and the dog. Through gaining eye-contact and talking to Jamie the care worker diverted attention and offered support through holding out a hand, which Jamie took. Consequently, the hand of the care worker had the skin broken as Jamie gripped tightly.”
It is important to recognise that the two processes are not unrelated as even the process of reflection-in-action will be influenced by some retrospective thinking on a prior event. Such thinking would involve a critical evaluation of the practice carried out and an assessment as to the effectiveness of that piece of work and how such evaluation can effect the enhancing of future practice. Therefore, we find ourselves using the process of “Reflection-on-Action” (Schön, D. ).