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Critical reflection for assessments and practice

What is reflective practice?

"In general, reflective practice is understood as the process of learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and/or practice. This often involves examining assumptions of everyday practice."

Linda Finlay - Reflecting on 'Reflective practice' (2008)


Reflection is critical to being a conscious, effective practitioner in any discipline. The important thing to keep in mind is that reflecting by itself is not reflective practice. Practice is tied into active, impactful change that emerges from deep reflective learning

Thinking and doing

Reflective practice is the act of thinking about your experiences in order to learn from them to shape what you do in the future. It therefore includes all aspects of your practice (e.g. relationships, interactions, learning, assessments, behaviours, and environments). It also includes examining how your practice is influenced by your own world views and gaining insights and other perspectives to inform future decision making.

Why reflect?

Reflective practice benefits you on both professional and personal levels. Using critical reflection as a tool can give you insight and positively impact your study, your wellbeing and your worklife. Click the plus icons (+) to view some benefits of reflective practice.     

When to critically reflect?

Critical reflection connects to past, current and future action. Click on each of the flip cards to learn the time-related actions you need to do as part of reflective practice.

Reflect on action
This is when you critically reflect on past experiences and analyse them to understand what worked well and what didn't work well and why.
Reflect in action
This is when you critically reflect on the experience as it happens and take immediate action in the moment.
Reflect for action
This is when you plan the actions you may take in the future based on your critical reflections of past experiences.

Reflective practice and critical reflection

Reflective practice is part of your mindset and everyday doing for both uni and the workplace. The process also relies on using critical reflection as a tool to analyse your reflections and which allows you to evaluate, inform and continually change your practice.

Explore the infographic below for a visual depiction of the reflective practice and critical reflection relationship. 

Critical reflection and areas of your practice

Reflective practice relies on your ability to be open to change and to consider relevant evidence that can challenge or inform decision making. Critical reflection is what allows you to deeply understand your study or work practice and then to take actions to improve it.    

You should critically reflect on all aspects of your practice including:

Examining interactions with others
Exploring concerns and challenges

Recognising and continuing good practices
Changing and improving what is not working well

Making connections between research and your practice
Knowing when to find more information or support from others

Reflective practice and you

How would you define reflective practice for yourself? There's no right or wrong answer to this question because it's so contextual. The way you enact reflective practice is tied to you and how you think, feel and do. We know that writing down or verbalising your thinking can help you better understand what something means to you. With that in mind...

Your Task

Take a few moments to think about how you define reflective practice. You can then record yourself using the interactive audio activity below and download the soundbyte. Any recording you make is only available to you. Keep this definition in mind as you move through this critical reflection guide.