Nursing Reflective Models – 1000 words


For the purpose of this assignment, the reader will define reflection and compare and contrast two reflective models.


One clear definition of reflection is that it is a proven process that “Helps you look back at your experience and determine what you learnt, what knowledge you were applying and what you do not understand. This helps you identify learning needs to enable you to perform better in the future.” (Brooker and Nicol, 2003, p.15). Reflection should not be considered just random thinking. ‘Reflection is thinking for a purpose’ The Open University (date) Leaning Space- What is reflection.[online] available from [Accessed 12th March 2009]. In nursing, reflective practice is encouraged and used in everyday scenarios, and student nurses start learning about reflection right from day one of their training. Nurses/students utilise given models or frameworks to measure their incidents and assess what their feelings are. This allows them to look back and see where and how they could approach things differently if at all, if the situation arose again. Reaffirmation, or new knowledge, could be learnt to deal with these given situations. ( Brooker and Nicol, 2003). Two such Models are Gibbs (1988) model of reflection and Boud, Keogh & Walker (1985). Both models show similarities  and dissimilarities which will now be concisely explored.


Gibbs (1988) model of reflection poses the following six questions:




  1. Description –         What Happened?
  2. Feelings –         What are you feeling and thinking?
  3. Evaluation –         What was good and bad about the experience?
  4. Analysis –         What sense can you make of the situation?
  5. Conclusion –         What else could you have done?                               
  6. Action –         If it arose again what would you do? ”

( Brooker and Nicol, 2003, p. 16)


From questions 1 & 2. Gibbs does not provide an absolute framework of reference for determining what was good versus what was bad about the experience, or for answering 4, 5 and 6. For the most part, the six questions Gibbs recommend reliance on memory of “feeling” or “thinking”. However ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ are opposite prepossessions. The individual will lean towards one more dominantly than the other. (My Personality (date) Thinking or feeling preference.[online] Available from[ Accessed 12th March 2009].


Boud, Keogh and Walker’s (1985) model “explains that as an individual encounters an experience, so he or she responds. The reflective process is initiated when the individual returns to the experience, recollecting what has taken place and replaying the experience. Then re-evaluation takes place. There are four elements in the process of re-evaluation.” (Kember et al 2001, p. 22).




  1. Association – relating new data to that which is already known,
  2. Integration – seeking relationships among the data.
  3. Validation – determining the authenticity of the ideas and the feelings which have resulted.
  4. Appropriation – making knowledge one’s own.” (Kember et al 2001, p. 22)


The term “data” implies statistical recording of information, however qualitative methods, meaning volumes of abundant deep data capture, emphasise the value of experience of real life situations. In nursing this is helpful as many incidents cannot use statistical analysis. Hewitt-Taylor, J.(2001) Use of constant comparative analysis in qualitative research. Nursing Standard,15 (42), 39. Therefore elements 1 and 2 suggest ideas and situations being updated; 3 and 4 on the contrary suggest a formal frame of reference which determines the realness of the ideas/situations for the purpose of gaining factual knowledge.


From the above statements and deduction, the models agree on certain issues,  as follows:

Both models aim to improve and further the individual’s learning and knowledge.

Their steps are both structured and interrelated.

Both models take the feelings and the personal ideas of the individual into consideration.

They both respect the individual’s way of thinking.

Once the process of reflection has been completed they are both forward looking.


But the following differences exist:

Boud et al’s model is largely formal and Gibb’s is mostly informal

Boud’s et al’s leans towards objectivity and Gibbs towards subjectivity.

Boud’s at al’s model recommends formal verification of ideas and feelings and Gibb’s does not.

Gibbs model accentuates the individual’s feelings and Boud at al’s emphasises the individual’s thinking.

Boud et al’s model leans towards to reflection – in – action

Gibbs leans towards reflection – on – action


To conclude, reflection has been defined as a process that looks back on experiences to determine what was learnt, and identifies further needs to enable an enhanced performance in the future. The two models compared and contrasted were Boud et al’s and Gibbs, and both models are used and enacted in everyday nursing and teaching/scenarios. They share the aspiration to further the individual’s learning and knowledge. They differ in that  Gibbs’ model  is more informal than Boud et al’s more formal approach. They both, however, reach the same conclusion: that reflection is powerful in lifelong learning and on- the -job practices, and is an essential component of good practice in the nursing field.












Brooker, C, Nicol, M (2003) Nursing Adults – The practice of caring. Edinburgh, Mosby.

Kember, D, et al (2001) Reflective teaching and learning in the health professions. Oxford, Blackwell Science Ltd.

Hewitt-Taylor ,J.(2001) Use of constant comparative analysis in qualitative research. Nursing  Standard,15 (42), 39.

My  (date) Thinking or Feeling Preference.  [online] Available from[ Accessed 12th March 2009].

The Open University (date) What is reflection? – Learning how to learn. .[online] available from [Accessed 12th March 2009].









  1. Web sites and journal referenced in main body how do I do it .????? Have I done it correctly according to the Worc Uni Havard guide?.Books I understand.
  2. Have I got too many direct quotes in the main body ?
  3. I can’t find the dates in quote on the internet source?
  4. Kember at al???My book of Kember doesn’t quote his name in full on the front cover so can use Kember et al?
  5. Have I successfully referenced I am worried that I have used 2nd referencing IE talking about the models from Gibbs and Boud yet I have used information from other authors books ? Therefore does this make it secondary referencing ?




These questions above I wanted to go through with my tutor on Thursday of this week as I am unsure. If you have any feedback on the questions I would be grateful for your answers – Thanks E