3 Major Types of Reflective Models in Nursing

Types of Reflective Models in Nursing

The reflective models in nursing make use of many methodologies while still enabling the reflective practitioner to go through the stages of self-awareness, description, critical analysis, synthesis, and assessment.

The Gibbs Reflective Cycle is the name given to the three selected models. Atkins and Murphy, Borton, and Kolb’s Reflective Cycle are examples of reflection models. All four of the models are sensible, pertinent, and fit for modern schooling and nurse education.

Nursing Self-Reflection

The implications for nursing practice and giving proof to the NMBA are at the heart of the dispute. All nurses, including nurse educators who are required to reflect on their teaching practice, should learn the skill of self-reflection. You might have explored the best essay topics to gather information. For educators to advance, especially those who are new to the nursing faculty, self-reflection and confidence growth are seen as essential skills.

Self-awareness is one of the qualities needed for self-reflection since it allows one to examine their emotions. Self-reflection is essential for a nurse to digest events, investigate behaviors, and assess their comprehension of those experiences. It entails an honest analysis of how a circumstance has influenced the person.

Reflective Cycle of Gibbs

A systematic, logical, and cyclical method with six stages, the Gibbs Reflective Cycle was established in 1988 and is illustrated here. To demonstrate how a model can be used to encourage self-reflection, the example utilizing the Gibbs model below offers a sample reflection. This reflection cycle uses its stages to push nurses to contemplate an event or activity’s phases systematically.

A platform for guiding a reflective process is provided by overlapping components in models like Gibbs’ and the ones addressed in this essay. The usage of a certain reflective model that is preferred by their institution may be requested by educational bodies. Describing all the steps is essential for writing an assignment or any other piece for information.

  • A description of the experience is necessary for the first step, and the person’s feelings and thoughts about the encounter are required in the second stage.
  • After this phase, the experience is evaluated, taking into account both the positive and negative aspects.
  • The fourth step, Analysis, helps the reflecting individual understand the issue so that they may move on to the fifth stage.
  • The fifth stage is Conclusion, where they can think about what they have learned and what they could have done differently. These five steps rationally guide the reflective person toward creating an Action Plan that details future responses to comparable circumstances as well as potential modifications.
  • The cycle may restart after the Action Plan has been put into action after some future thought.

The 3 major models of reflection are below:

  • Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

The four stages of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle—concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation—were published in 1984.

Stages of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle

The stages of Kolbe’s experiential learning cycle include:

  • Concrete Experience:

A task that needs active/physical participation is given to the person, team, or organization as part of the first stage, Concrete Experience, which starts with doing. Kolb contends that learning cannot occur merely through reading or watching; rather, it requires participation in group activities, hands-on exercises, and discussions – activities that might not be ideal for therapeutic reflection. In contrast, reflection in Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle can be entirely reliant on observation.

Kolb’s concept, for instance, would not be applicable in the case of a nursing student witnessing a more experienced staff member perform a wound dressing for the first time. If the nurse attending the dressing explains the procedure, goes through the steps of the nursing process, and then directs the student nurse to appropriate learning materials, observation is a safe and effective method of learning.

When a nurse is learning, they might take stock of the situation and analyze what they have seen.

  • Reflective Observation

The second stage of the Kolb Cycle is reflective observation. This entails pausing the activity, taking a step back, and reflecting on the experiences. For the reflective process to be effective, thoughts must be expressed verbally and the task must be discussed.

The process of making meaning of what has happened, interpreting the events, and comprehending the relationships is done at the third stage, known as abstract conceptualization. The student is expected to draw on theory from textbooks or any other knowledge they have acquired to compare what they have done with what they already know.

  • Active Experimentation

The learner evaluates what they have learned and how to apply it in the final stage, Active Experimentation. What might happen next or what steps should be taken to improve or modify prior behavior are determined by new understanding.

This may apply to a student nurse who requests to handle a dressing under supervision when it is due or earlier if determined to be necessary after assessment.

  • Atkins and Murphy’s Model of Reflection

Atkins and Murphy’s Model of Reflection (1993), which was created expressly for use in nursing practice, is the third model up for debate. The concept has been considered transferable and has been adopted by other disciplines since nurses deal with a wide range of diverse, unique, and challenging situations.

People find it difficult to ponder upsetting occurrences, but Atkins and Murphy assert that by doing so, they may gain perspective for dealing with situations that are similar in the future.

Stages of Atkins and Murphy’s Model of Reflection

There are five stages:

  • The first stage calls for awareness of unsettling ideas and sensations, action, or a novel experience.
  • The nurse, or reflecting person, is required to describe the situation in the second stage, including their thoughts and feelings along with important events and distinguishing characteristics.
  • The third stage, which involves analyzing sentiments and information pertinent to the situation, comes next. At this step, the reflecting person must assess their knowledge, question presumptions, and invent and consider potential alternatives.
  • The evaluation of knowledge that might or might not be useful in explaining and resolving existing issues is the fourth stage.

The individual must identify any learning as the fifth and final level. The model offers depth and stimulates critical thought, but it may be trickier to utilize in practice and is not as straightforward as other models, like Gibbs and Kolb.

Ball elaborates on this premise by saying that the model assumes some amount of awareness, or unawareness, and assumes the nurse has the time to analyze, which may not be the case in a real-life clinical setting when a nurse lacks the time and resources to reflect on any detail. Reflection won’t be addressed until long later after the initial crisis or situation has passed.

  • Borton’s Framework for Reflection

Borton’s What, So What, and Now What Framework for Reflection is quite straightforward in its presentation, but Driscoll has contributed to it by including a variety of trigger questions to enable a more thorough reflective study. Driscoll created an experiencing cycle as well.

What happened, what other people did who were involved in it, what the reflecting person did or saw, and what their reaction to it are some of the trigger questions that are used in the initial account of an event, the “What.”

This would be extremely helpful from a nursing standpoint in an emergency because developing future life-saving abilities hinge on the capacity to reflect and take into account what else might have been done. The “So what” is the second section.

Driscoll challenges the person reflecting to think about how they felt at the time of the incident, whether their feelings now are any different from what they experienced at the time of the incident, what the effects of what they did or did not do were, to think about the positive aspects that emerged from the incident, to reflect on their behavior in practice by taking a more measured look at it, and to think about the observers’ views to aid reflection of practice, actions, and feelings.

Based on what has been described and examined, the “Now what” has consequences for clinical practice. Asking whether there would be a difference if the person reflecting opted to do nothing, as well as what the key takeaways from their reflection are, are examples of trigger questions.

The following are some examples of trigger questions:

  • Would it make a difference if the person reflecting chose to do nothing?
  • What are the key takeaways from reflecting on practice?
  • What support might be required to put the results into action?
  • Which Aspects Should Be Tackled First?

Additional trigger questions include how practice may be modified if a comparable event came again and where further information might be discovered to handle a similar situation.


Reflective practice is a cognitive skill that requires deliberate effort to examine a circumstance while being aware of one’s views, values, and practice. It enables nurses to learn from events and apply that learning to enhance patient care outcomes.

It also results in the advancement of nursing expertise. All these four models of reflection hold great significance in nursing and are designed with great planning.

Author Bio

Carmen Troy is a research-based content writer, who works for Splash Sol Tech, a globally recognised professional SEO service and essays.uk, an essay and academic content providing service. Mr Cameron holds a PhD degree in mass communication. He loves to express his views on a range of issues including education, technology, and more.