How to use the gibbs reflective cycle

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Graham Gibbs is an Oxford University professor who introduced his cycle for reflection in his 1988 work "Learning By Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods." This cycle is used in the health-care profession as a way for professionals to assess and reflect on any given situation in their job. By reflecting, and learning to do it reflexively, the professional can gain a sense of how a method or his or her actions can be improved upon when a similar situation arises. The Gibbs Reflective Cycle can apply to any scenario that you feel merits reflection and/or improvement.

Write a description of the event. The first step in the six-step cycle is to describe the event factually, just as it happened. Explain the details from the beginning to the end of the event and your role in them. For example, "The patient was in for a routine checkup. I weighed her and took her blood pressure."

Write down what you were feeling during the event. If your feelings changed at different stages in the event, be sure to outline what those different stages were and your particular feelings associated with them.

Write down an evaluation of your event. List both the good and the bad aspects of what happened.

Write down your analysis. This part can be tricky and is subjective. You need to write down the meaning of the incident or event. In the health-care profession, you can reflect on the patient's injury in conjunction with his or her medical history and piece together a cause for the injury. Also reflect on the meaning of your actions during the event. Did you make a mistake from a bad day? Did a previous reflection cycle exercise help you to keep a cool head in this situation?

Write down a conclusion. This is an evaluation of your behaviour in the event. Consider what you should or could have done differently and make a point to recognise what you did that was spot on correct.

Write an action plan. Consider what you will do differently if and when this situation should occur again. Write down a decisive plan for your altered behaviour in similar circumstances.

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