Learning through reflection
Reflection is a process of learning through everyday experiences and forms an integral part of undergraduate and post-graduate higher education midwifery programmes. Students are encouraged to use a structured model of reflection to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their experiences during clinical practice. These models of reflection will be discussed, and the use of reflective practice within midwifery higher education will be evaluated. The article will also consider the importance of reflection as part of continued professional development and revalidation, and the role it has to enable midwives to become reflective practitioners and ultimately increase self-awareness, self-identity and personal growth.
An essential element of continual, evolving midwifery is the need for midwives to critically reflect on their practice in order to inform and improve care for childbearing women. Reflection involves learning through everyday experiences and forms an integral part of undergraduate and post-graduate higher education midwifery programmes. It is an in-depth view of events, whereby the reflector reviews a situation and attempts to work out what happened, what they felt or thought about it, who or what influenced particular actions and how they would respond if it happened again. Reflection supports life-long learning by cultivating insight into professional practice, increasing self-awareness and allowing for deeper understanding of analysis and evaluation to strengthen critical inquiry and inform practice (Kirkham, 1997).
Reflection can be defined as ‘to think, meditate or ponder’, and is a philosophical understanding of how we gain knowledge through experience (Johns, 2009). The concept of reflective thinking as part of learning as initiated by the philosopher and educationalist John Dewey, who defined it as:
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