Graham Gibbs’ (1988) model of reflection provides a structured way of carrying out reflective practice for those who may require guidance on techniques. This model originated from the teaching profession but can be easily transferred for use within of coaching and leadership settings. Gibbs' model incorporates all the core skills of reflection. Arguably it is focused on 'reflection-on-action', but with practice it could be used to focus on reflection in and before action.
Stage 1: Description of the event
Describe in detail the event you are reflecting on.
Include e.g. where were you; who else was there; why were you there; what were you doing; what were other people doing; what was the context of the event; what happened; what was your part in this; what parts did the other people play; what was the result.
Stage 2: Feelings and Thoughts (Self awareness)
At this stage, try to recall and explore those things that were going on inside your head. Include:
How you were feeling when the event started?
What you were thinking about at the time?
How did it make you feel?
How did other people make you feel?
How did you feel about the outcome of the event?
What do you think about it now?
Stage 3: Evaluation
Try to evaluate or make a judgement about what has happened. Consider what was good about the experience and what was bad about the experience or what did or didn’t go so well
Stage 4: Analysis
Break the event down into its component parts so they can be explored separately. You may need to ask more detailed questions about the answers to the last stage. Include:
What went well?
What did you do well?
What did others do well?
What went wrong or did not turn out how it should have done?
In what way did you or others contribute to this?
Stage 5: Conclusion (Synthesis)
This differs from the evaluation stage in that now you have explored the issue from different angles and have a lot of information to base your judgement. It is here that you are likely to develop insight into you own and other people’s behaviour in terms of how they contributed to the outcome of the event. Remember the purpose of reflection is to learn from an experience. Without detailed analysis and honest exploration that occurs during all the previous stages, it is unlikely that all aspects of the event will be taken into account and therefore valuable opportunities for learning can be missed. During this stage you should ask yourself what you could have done differently.
Stage 6: Action Plan
During this stage you should think yourself forward into encountering the event again and to plan what you would do – would you act differently or would you be likely to do the same?
Here the cycle is tentatively completed and suggests that should the event occur again it will be the focus of another reflective cycle.