Reflection & learning

Some of the reflective exercises I could relate to, some not. In fact some went way over my head but that’s academic writing for you – it’s not clear or straight forward – always has a twist, take David Kolb (1984) and his cycle… with words that have different meanings, luckily I could just about relate to:

  • Concrete experiencing
  • Reflective observation
  • Abstract conceptualising
  • Active experimentation

But can far better relate to:

  • Have an experience  (Concrete experiencing)
  • Reflect on the experience – (Reflective observation)
  • Learn from Experience – (Abstract conceptualising)
  • Try out what you have learned – (Active Experimentation)

It’s just a question of using good old plain English – note the emotion here reflecting back on Moon’s PDP working paper.

But there, enough moaning – some of the things did indeed ring true with how I approach and deal with this course work and my work practices. I have to admit there’s far more reading on this course, so methods of learning is rather exhausting, whereas my work practice requires thinking through things or problem solving, finding smarter ways of doing things and not necessary writing down the ideas. This thinking happens as a reflective process – going over a problem in your mind, thinking about various solutions – and then, Bingo I find an answer, often when driving to work.

I think Moon’s point about using different disciplines being suited to different kinds of reflective activity doesn’t go far enough with the range of practices listed. I believe there are limitless ways, in which reflective practice can be applied, with new tools being developed as we speak – take iphone apps as an example.

Many of the students at my University have dyslexia and find the writing process painful, boring and frankly a waste of time and to be honest, many staff feel the same way. They maintain reflective learning is constant throughout the curriculum.

However students love making video journals, or podcasts, or picture journals with words, so perhaps what I’m trying to say is for some students it would indeed be counter productive to force them into making written reflective accounts of their learning… More creative ways are needed or indeed should be encouraged.

I believe there should be more choice so learners can decide which medium they wish to use to reflect on their learning. A picture paints a thousand words – perhaps if the learner were to paint the picture first and choose 10 words (from a bag of 200) to describe how they felt and what they learnt from the process it would be another way to get engagement. The students themselves should also be asked how they could best reflect their learning. Perhaps they could surprise us.


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