Gibbs – Reflective Cycle Model (1988)
Originally published on Jan 5 2018, updated on Apr 26 2021
The Gibbs’ reflective cycle, inspired partly by Kolb’s learning cycle, enables us to effectively reflect on incidents and occurrences, be it daily or occasionally, and learn from them (University of Bradford, 2010). It is studied in all our Train the Trainer courses however, in the Level 5 DET course there is a whole unit on the theories and models of reflective practice and this is one of the most popular theories that people find easy to apply in their reflective practice.
What are the Elements of Gibbs’ cycle?
The process is essentially a cycle or loop, containing the following six elements:
- Description: This element requires a factual description of the incident. At this stage, no conclusion is drawn, the focus is on the information; that too which is relevant. Some prompt questions are: What happened? How did it happen? Where? When? Who else was there? Did someone react? How did they react? Why were you there? What did you do? What happened at the end? This builds up the background and a better understanding of the incident.
- Feelings: Here any emotion felt during the incident is discussed. Questions like, what did you feel before the incident? During it? After it was all over? What do you think other people felt? What do you feel about the incident now? What do you think others feel about it now? helps answer this part accurately. For writers, it's cautioned to not make this part wordy and chatty.
- Evaluation: Objectively evaluate the situation. What went well? What did not? What were the negatives and the positives of the situation? How did you and the others contribute to it (positively or negatively)? For writers, this is a good part to add in theories and references as they evaluate and judge the incident.
- Analysis: Think about what might have hindered or helped the situation. This part can be improved by reference to a literary article (for writers) or a previous experience if needed. Link the theory and experience together.
- Conclusion: Consider what did you learn from the situation. What else could you have done in that situation? What skills will help you cope with it better next time? How differently would you react if you face a similar situation again? If the outcomes were negative, how would you avoid that? If the outcomes were positive, how could you improve it for yourself and everyone else?
- Action Plan: This area deals with the plan of how to effectively handle and improve the situation next time. Any training, skill, or habit that can equip you with handling the situation better if it occurs again? Is there something more to be learned for a better outcome? Work out the areas that need work and thrive to improve in them.
Gibbs’ Reflective cycle model is used in various situations and is useful in evaluating it, especially as a teacher or trainer. Reflection is used to improve understanding and proof of practice-based learning - something that is necessary to pass your DET / DTLLS course. It is regarded as a valuable instrument to use after critical occurrences have jumped out to help educational practitioners like you as well as letting your pupils reflect on encounters and create new learning and form new ideas.
What is the application of Gibbs's reflective practice?
All teacher training courses have a huge emphasis on research and proof-based practice. However, frequently the trainees face “increasingly complex, uncertain and multifaceted realities of practice” (Fish 1991, referred to in Burrows, 1995), which don’t generally perfectly fit into existing examination and research. Reflection can help regardless of whether your pupils are under training or for qualified training professionals like you, to understand these situations. It can likewise help them increase new learning and moreover, it can raise or highlight numerous researchable points and new inquiries, as opposed to answers. It is this ongoing process of self-examination and learning that we promote in our teacher training courses especially the L5 Diploma in Education and Training because it leads to the QTLS status which means Fully Qualified Teacher Status. Getting and maintaining this recognition requires you to evidence your reflective practice hence the importance of Gibb's Reflective Cycle.
Recognising the idea that one can only change what is in one's control to change, the Gibbs model encourages the use of critical reflection. And for people new to reflective practice, it especially offers a good starting point for converting new learning and knowledge into action and change. The process requires that one look beneath the surface of events and experiences to achieve deeper levels of understanding and learning.