Reflective practice is a teaching strategy for improving teaching and learning which emphasizes learning as a personal, internal process of making meaning. Through reflective practice, learners acquire knowledge, then use that knowledge to modify their thinking as well as to revise, integrate, and accommodate new knowledge. Reflective practice can be likened to the concept of learning from experience in that you think about what you did, what happened, and then decide what the best course of action is for next time. Further, because we construct meaning for an explanation about an event or learning experience, sometimes these meanings can be misguided; in which case reflective practice provides a different outlook to practice situations challenging existing thoughts, feelings, and actions, allowing new approaches to emerge.

Effective learning takes into consideration broadening student perspectives on different ways of knowing and learning as this assists the learner to become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses in being active participants in their learning. Kolb’s experiential learning theory (ELT) is relevant to underpin a reflective teaching strategy based on the assumption that learning is a process, and the adult learner is motivated to learn. In the ELT framework, knowledge creation is portrayed as a four-mode cycle where the learner responds to new knowledge through experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting in response to the learning situation and what is being learned (Kolb, & Kolb, 2005). Experiential learning in nursing education is the learning of work-related skills that often involve hands-on participation, a primary means through which nurses learn the logistics of nursing.

A learning situation where students can be guided using RP is in understanding and connecting concepts. For example, many of us experience skin disorders such as abrasions, bites, blisters, burns, or calluses. These skin disorders can lead to infection if not properly treated. Students can be guided to draw on their life experiences and connect their broad understanding of dermatological or skin disorders in relation to the concept of infection. Students can dialogue in their groups about their experiences in taking care of a loved one that became sick or, how the student was cared for when he/she was sick as a child or an adult due to an infection caused by a skin disorder. Students who use the compare and contrast approach in learning are moving beyond simply absorbing information and are beginning to carefully examine things in comparison to their own background and life experiences.

Come back next week for a more engaging reflective practice exercise.


Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2005). Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(2), 193-212. doi:10.5465/AMLE.2005.17268566

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