Gibbs' model

When assessing your reflective writing your tutor will be expecting more than a superficial review of your experience, they will be seeking evidence of deeper reflection. This means moving beyond the descriptive, and subjecting your experience to greater scrutiny.

In Learning by Doing, Gibbs (1988) outlines the stages for a ‘Structured Debriefing’, which are based on Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle and which encourage deeper reflection:

  • Description: What is the stimulant for reflection? (incident, event, theoretical idea). What are you going to reflect on?
  • Feelings: What were your reactions and feelings?
  • Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience? Make value judgements.
  • Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation? Bring in ideas from outside the experience to help you. What was really going on?
  • Conclusions (general): What can be concluded, in a general sense, from these experiences and the analyses you have undertaken?
  • Conclusions (specific): What can be concluded about your own specific, unique, personal situation or ways of working?
  • Personal action plans: What are you going to do differently in this type of situation next time? What steps are you going to take on the basis of what you have learnt?
Data protection

The Data Protection Act (1988) forbids the use of patients’ names or any other information that could identify them from being used. So, when referring to a patient in a reflective piece of writing, take care not to use patient related data that could allow the reader to identify who they are. The patient must remain anonymous or be given a false name (pseudonym). You should always ask the patient’s permission before writing about an experience that involved them.

Good luck!

Gibbs, G, 1988, Learning by Doing. A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. FEU
Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Creative Commons Licence
SMILE - Reflective writing by Martin Hampton, ASK, University of Portsmouth modified by Marion Kelt, GCU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at