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Hi everyone! 

I'm currently doing my level 3 course and I would like to share my research and discuss the importance of reflection in relation to professional development. There is two theoretical perspectives. One theory is Kolbs learning cycle and the other theory is Gibbs reflective cycle. I have found that Gibbs and Kolb are actually focus same things. However I have observed that it is easer for people to implement Gibbs steps becouse it is more detailed.  You can examine the situation objectively and reach the conclusion step by step. Kolbs learning cycle is less detaile and before you explore everything detailed it jumps to conclusion which might create a sense of superficial learning and understanding.  Gibbs cycle allows us to learn and plan from things. It seems to me that they both focus on the same thing and indeed Kolbs steps are also easily applicable.

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Hi, I'm working on my last unit of my Cache Level 3 Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator) and as part of my course I was to research the theoretical perspectives on professional development and share my findings in an online forum.

From my research I have found that two theories have been particularly significant in understanding the reflective process. These are Kolb’s Learning Cycle and Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.

Kolb’s Learning Cycle:
David Kolb, an American educational theorist, developed the experiential learning cycle, which is widely used today for reflection. His theory suggests that in order to learn effectively, four processes must happen. These are:
1.    Concrete experience – This is doing or having an experience that creates a learning experience. In an Early Years setting, this could be carrying out an activity with the children for the first time. 
2.    Reflective observation – This is where the practitioner would review and reflect on the experience. This could be that the practitioner thinks about the aspects of the task that worked well and the those that were not as successful.
3.    Abstract conceptualisation – This is where conclusions are made and the individual learns from the experience. This could be where the practitioner decides on what changes need to be made to the activity for it to work better next time.
4.    Active experimentation – This is the stage where the practitioner would apply what they have learned from the experience and put it into practice. This would be trying the task again, but with the changes that had been thought about in the previous stage.

The Kolb’s process is a cycle, because once we have tried out new ideas, we may need to reflect on them again. Many models of reflective practice have been based on Kolb’s Learning Cycle. By practitioners using this process, we are can think about our practice and the elements that need more developing, by reflecting on what we do and then implementing the changes we make to improve, before beginning the cycle again.

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle:
Graham Gibbs developed his ‘Reflective Cycle’ in 1988, which was adapted from Kolb’s work. Gibbs’ approach gave more structure to the process of learning from experiences. His cycle has six stages. These are:
1.    Description – The practitioner first describes the experience to identify what happened. This could be describing a task that was carried out with the children in the setting.
2.    Feelings – At this stage, the practitioner identifies and assess how they feel about the experience. This is important, to understand how the emotions that were felt about the experience influenced them.
3.    Evaluation – After looking at and assessing their feelings, the practitioner evaluates the experience, considering what the positive and the negatives were and what could have been done differently.
4.    Analysis – So that the practitioner understands what happened during the experience and why, they analyse it, trying to make sense of what happened by looking at the reasons why.
5.    Conclusion – At this stage, conclusions are made about the experience and through their learning, the practitioner then decides what they will do with that learning in the future.
6.    Action plan – This is the stage where the individual would put into practice the points of action decided at the previous stage.

The conclusion stage of Gibbs’ cycle could identify that further training is needed and this would be put into the action plan stage, which links to professional development.

From looking at both of these cycles, it seems the reflection sheets I would fill in after each task I carried out in my settings throughout my studies, is based more so on Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. This cycle, I feel goes into more detail and so allowed me to really learn from my experiences and develop my practice.

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