Kolb 1984

Kolb was highly influenced by the research conducted by Dewey and Piaget in the 1970s. Kolb’s reflective model highlights the concept of experimental learning and is centered around the transformation of information into knowledge. This takes place after the situation has occurred and entails a practitioner reflecting on the experience, gaining a general understanding of the concepts encountered during the experience and then testing these general understandings on a new situation. In this way the knowledge that is gained from a situation is continuously applied and reapplied building on a practitioners prior experiences and knowledge.




Gibbs 1988

Graham Gibbs discussed the use of structured debriefing to facilitate the reflection involved in Kolb’s “experiential learning cycle”. He presents the stages of a full structured debriefing as follows:

  • (Initial experience)
  • Description:

“What happened? Don’t make judgements yet or try to draw conclusions; simply describe.”

  • Feelings:

“What were your reactions and feelings? Again don’t move on to analysing these yet.”

  • Evaluation:

“What was good or bad about the experience? Make value judgements.”

  • Analysis:

“What sense can you make of the situation? Bring in ideas from outside the experience to help you.”

“What was really going on?”

“Were different people’s experiences similar or different in important ways?”

  • Conclusions (general):

“What can be concluded, in a general sense, from these experiences and the analyses you have undertaken?”

  • Conclusions (specific):

“What can be concluded about your own specific, unique, personal situation or way of working?”

  • Personal action plans:

“What are you going to do differently in this type of situation next time?”

“What steps are you going to take on the basis of what you have learnt?”

Gibbs’ suggestions are often cited as Gibbs’ reflective cycle or Gibbs’ model of reflection (1988), and simplified into the following six distinct stages:

  • Description
  • Feelings
  • Evaluation
  • Analysis
  • Conclusions
  • Action plan.