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The Schön reflection model (sometimes referred to as the Schön reflective model) is a popular and valuable tool for personal and professional development. Developed by influential educational theorist Donald Schön, this model is widely used in various fields such as education, psychology, and business. The model encourages individuals to reflect on their own experiences and actions to gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. In this article, we deep-dive into the Schön reflection model and look at how it can be applied in our daily lives.

Unveiling the Schön Reflection Model: What is it?

The Schön reflection model, developed by renowned educational theorist Donald Schön, is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. This model has gained widespread recognition and is used in various fields, including education, psychology, and business. So, what exactly is the Schön reflection model?

At its core, the Schön reflection model encourages individuals to engage in reflective thinking, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and actions. It involves actively reflecting on past experiences, both successes and failures and examining the underlying reasons and motivations behind them. This self-reflection helps individuals identify patterns and make meaningful connections between their actions and outcomes.

The Schön reflection model is not a rigid framework, but rather a flexible approach that can be applied to various situations. It provides individuals with a structured process to enhance their learning and professional development. By actively reflecting on their experiences, individuals can gain insights, improve decision-making skills, and ultimately grow both personally and professionally.

Knowing in Action, Reflection in Action and Reflection on Action

Knowing in Action

Knowing in action is a concept that reveals how much of our professional expertise operates below the surface of our conscious mind, allowing us to navigate complex situations with what seems like an instinctual ease. This dimension of Donald Schon's reflection model showcases the depth of tacit knowledge that professionals draw upon without necessarily being able to articulate it. It's the expertise that manifests when a seasoned teacher responds to a classroom dynamic without pausing to consider the pedagogical theories influencing their decisions, or when a nurse adjusts a patient's care plan based on subtle cues that their training has taught them to recognise.

This form of competence is akin to an iceberg, with a vast reserve of knowledge and experience hidden beneath the waterline, invisible but immensely powerful. It encompasses the skills honed through years of practice, absorbed into one’s way of being and acting in the professional realm. The process of bringing this submerged knowledge to the surface through reflection in action and reflection on action can illuminate the reasoning behind our intuitive decisions, enhancing our understanding of our own practice.

Engaging with the concept of knowing in action, therefore, invites a reevaluation of what we consider competence in our fields. It challenges professionals to acknowledge the role of their unconscious proficiency in their daily work and to explore ways to tap into this rich well of implicit knowledge more deliberately. Through reflection, what was once an automatic, unexamined process becomes a subject for learning and further refinement, enriching the professional’s skill set and their capacity for adaptive, responsive action.

Reflection in Action

Reflection in action is the dynamic capability of evaluating and adapting one's decisions and actions whilst fully engaged in an activity. This aspect of Schon's model illuminates the critical skill of mental agility—the ability to think, reassess, and modify one's approach in real-time. It represents the very essence of 'thinking on your feet', a vital skill in fast-paced or unpredictable environments.

In the heat of the moment, professionals often have to make split-second decisions that can have significant consequences. Reflection in action enables individuals to harness their tacit knowledge and apply it effectively, even under pressure. This process involves a rapid mental check-in, asking oneself, "Is this the best course of action? Could there be a more effective way to address this situation?" Such immediate reflection allows for a fluid and responsive approach to tasks, ensuring that actions are both considered and timely.

Critically, reflection in action does not occur in isolation. It is deeply informed by one’s underlying base of knowledge and prior experiences (knowing in action) and is further refined through later contemplation of the actions taken (reflection on action). By fostering an ability to reflect whilst in the midst of action, professionals not only enhance their immediate performance but also contribute to their ongoing learning and development. This reflective practice empowers individuals to navigate complex scenarios with confidence, adapting their strategies to meet the demands of the moment with informed intuition and expertise.

Reflection on Action

Delving into the depths of Schon’s model, reflection on action stands as a crucial phase where the individual steps back to analyse and scrutinise the actions taken and their subsequent outcomes. This reflective practice occurs in the quiet aftermath of action, providing a valuable space for introspection and critical evaluation. It’s a moment detached from the immediacy of decision-making, where the richness of experience can be thoroughly examined.

In this reflective stage, professionals are encouraged to dissect their experiences, questioning the effectiveness of their strategies and the appropriateness of their decisions. It prompts a deep dive into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of actions, fostering a culture of enquiry that challenges the status quo and propels personal growth. The insights gleaned from this process are instrumental in refining future actions, transforming experience into a learning tool of unparalleled value.

Reflection on action goes beyond mere self-assessment; it is an opportunity to connect the dots between theory and practice, identifying patterns that may not have been evident in the heat of the moment. This deliberate contemplation enables professionals to construct a more robust framework for their practice, integrating new understandings with existing knowledge.

This stage is particularly potent when shared or guided, as discussing reflections with peers or mentors can unearth additional perspectives and deepen the learning experience. By systematically engaging in reflection on action, individuals not only enhance their professional practice but also contribute to a collective wisdom that enriches the entire professional community.

In the next sections of this article, we will delve deeper into the core principles of the Schön reflection model and explore its benefits, applications, and tips for implementing it in your everyday professional life. So, let's continue our journey of discovery and uncover the transformative power of the Schön reflection model.

The Core Principles of the Schön Reflection Model

To truly grasp the power of the Schön reflection model, it is essential to understand its core principles. At its heart, this model emphasises the importance of reflective thinking. By engaging in introspection and analysing past experiences, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and actions.

One of the key principles of the Schön reflection model is the notion of learning through practice. Schön argues that learning is not simply a matter of acquiring knowledge, but rather a process of actively engaging with real-world situations and reflecting on them. By reflecting on both successes and failures, individuals can uncover valuable insights and learn from their experiences.

Another fundamental principle of the Schön reflection model is the idea of the "reflective conversation." This refers to the internal dialogue that individuals engage in as they reflect on their experiences. By examining the underlying reasons and motivations behind their actions, individuals can identify patterns, make connections, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves.

Lastly, the Schön reflection model highlights the importance of context. It recognises that individuals' actions are shaped by their environment and the specific circumstances they find themselves in. By considering the broader context in which their experiences occur, individuals can gain a more nuanced understanding of their actions and the factors influencing them.


Benefits of Adopting the Schön Reflection Model in Your Career Path

The Schön Reflection Model offers numerous benefits for mid-career professionals looking to navigate their career path with purpose and intention. By adopting this reflective practice, individuals can gain valuable insights that can lead to personal growth and professional advancement.

One of the key benefits of the Schön Reflection Model is increased self-awareness. By taking the time to reflect on past experiences and actions, professionals can gain a deeper understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, values, and goals. This self-awareness allows individuals to make informed decisions about their career path, aligning their choices with their true passions and aspirations.

Additionally, the Schön Reflection Model promotes continuous learning and development. Through reflection, professionals can identify patterns, evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies, and make adjustments for improvement. This commitment to ongoing growth enhances their skills and knowledge, making them more valuable assets in the workplace.

Moreover, the Schön Reflection Model helps professionals overcome stagnation. By actively reflecting on their experiences and exploring different perspectives, individuals can uncover new insights and innovative solutions to challenges they may be facing. This fresh perspective enables professionals to break free from routine and embrace new opportunities for growth and advancement.


Overcoming Stagnation at Work Through Schön's Reflective Practices

Feeling stuck in a job and unsure of how to move forwards can be incredibly frustrating and demotivating. However, the Schön Reflection Model offers a powerful solution for overcoming stagnation and finding new paths for growth and advancement.

By incorporating Schön's reflective practices into your daily work routine, you can break free from the monotony and discover new opportunities for personal and professional development. Reflection allows you to gain valuable insights into your current situation, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improvement.

schon-reflective-model-challengesThrough the Schön Reflection Model, you can critically examine your experiences and actions, asking yourself important questions such as:
  • What challenges have I faced?
  • How did I respond to them?
  • What have I learned from these experiences?

By analysing past situations, you can gain a clearer understanding of your decision-making processes and patterns, allowing you to make more informed choices in the future.

Reflection also encourages you to explore different perspectives and consider alternative approaches to problems. This open-mindedness can help you break out of your comfort zone and find innovative solutions to challenges you may be facing at work.

In addition, reflecting on your accomplishments and successes can boost your confidence and motivation. By recognising your achievements, you can build on your strengths and leverage them to overcome obstacles and achieve even greater success in your career.

Overall, the Schön Reflection Model provides a structured framework for overcoming stagnation at work. By incorporating reflective practices into your routine, you can gain fresh insights, discover new paths for growth, and break free from the feeling of being stuck. So, start implementing Schön's reflective practices today and watch as you uncover new opportunities and take your career to new heights.


The Schön Reflection Model and Career Advancement Opportunities

The Schön Reflection Model offers exciting opportunities for mid-career professionals looking to advance their careers. By incorporating this reflective practice into their daily routine, individuals can gain valuable insights that can propel them forward in their career paths.

One of the main advantages of the Schön Reflection Model is the ability to identify areas for improvement. By reflecting on past experiences, professionals can pinpoint areas where they can develop new skills or enhance existing ones. This self-awareness allows them to seek out relevant training opportunities or take on new projects that align with their desired career trajectory.

Additionally, the Schön Reflection Model promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By reflecting on past challenges and successes, professionals can develop a more strategic mindset and improve their ability to find innovative solutions. This can set them apart from their peers and make them valuable assets to their organisations.

Moreover, the Schön Reflection Model encourages professionals to seek out mentorship and networking opportunities. By reflecting on their own strengths and weaknesses, individuals can identify areas where they can benefit from guidance or support. They can then actively seek out mentors or engage in networking events to connect with individuals who can provide valuable insights and advice.


Developing New Skills with Schön's Reflective Learning

Developing new skills is an essential aspect of professional growth and advancement. With the Schön Reflection Model, individuals can enhance their learning and development through reflective practices.

Reflective learning, as outlined by Donald Schön, involves actively engaging with past experiences and examining the underlying reasons and motivations behind them. By reflecting on both successes and failures, professionals can uncover valuable insights that can help them develop new skills.

Through the Schön Reflection Model, individuals can critically analyse their experiences and identify areas where they can improve their skills. By asking themselves important questions such as "What skills do I need to acquire?" or "What areas can I enhance?", professionals can create a roadmap for their skill development journey.

Furthermore, reflection allows professionals to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and make adjustments for improvement. By identifying areas where their skills may be lacking or outdated, individuals can seek out relevant training opportunities or take on new projects that can help them acquire the necessary skills.
Incorporating reflective learning into your daily routine can also provide a fresh perspective and encourage innovative thinking. By exploring different approaches and considering alternative solutions, professionals can develop a more strategic mindset and expand their skillset.

Real-Life Applications of the Schön Reflection Model

The Schön Reflection Model offers numerous practical applications that can be implemented in real-life scenarios, both personally and professionally. Here are a few examples of how you can apply this model in your everyday life:

1. Problem Solving: When faced with a challenge or a difficult decision, take the time to reflect on similar situations you have encountered in the past. By examining your thought processes and actions during those times, you can gain valuable insights that can inform your current problem-solving approach.

2. Leadership Development: Reflection is a key component of effective leadership. By regularly reflecting on your leadership style and its impact on others, you can identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. This self-awareness can help you become a more effective and inspiring leader.

3. Career Transitions: The Schön Reflection Model can be particularly useful when considering a career change or transition. Reflecting on your current job satisfaction, values, and goals can help you identify potential career paths that align with your true passions and aspirations.

4. Conflict Resolution: When faced with conflicts or disagreements, reflection can help you understand the underlying reasons and motivations behind your own and others' actions. This understanding can facilitate more productive and empathetic conversations, leading to more effective conflict resolution.

5. Personal Growth and Development: The Schön Reflection Model is not limited to professional contexts. It can also be applied to personal growth and development. By reflecting on your relationships, personal choices, and life experiences, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself and make meaningful changes for personal growth.

Tips on Implementing Schön’s Reflective Model in Your Everyday Professional Life

Ready to start implementing the Schön Reflection Model in your everyday professional life? Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Create dedicated reflection time: Set aside specific time each day or week to reflect on your experiences and actions. This could be in the form of journaling, meditation, or simply taking a quiet walk. Find a method that works best for you and make reflection a regular practice.

2. Ask reflective questions: As you engage in reflection, ask yourself probing questions that encourage deeper thinking. Consider questions like "What did I learn from this experience?" or "How did my actions align with my values?" These questions can help you uncover valuable insights and gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

3. Seek feedback: Don't hesitate to seek feedback from others. Engage in open conversations with colleagues, mentors, or trusted friends about your experiences and ask for their perspectives. This external input can provide valuable insights and different perspectives that you may not have considered on your own.

4. Set goals for improvement: Once you have identified areas for growth or improvement through reflection, set clear and actionable goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated as you work towards developing new skills or making positive changes in your professional life.

5. Practice self-compassion: Reflection can sometimes bring up uncomfortable emotions or highlight areas where you feel you may have fallen short. It's important to approach this process with self-compassion and kindness. Remember that reflection is about growth and learning, and it's okay to make mistakes along the way.

Post by L&D Hero
October 3, 2023