What is reflective practice?

There are substantial benefits in being a reflective student. Research shows that students who are reflective when learning will have a deeper understanding of their subject.

What does being reflective mean?

There is a lot of research around reflective learning.

David Kolb – Experiential Learning

David Kolb is an American educationalist whose work focuses on experiential learning. Experiential learning is learning that takes place from experiences. He developed a learning cycle that shows learning taking place initially from experiencing a situation, then reflecting on that situation, forming generalisations and concepts, and then applying the knowledge learned. (click the image to enlarge)

Kolb experiential learning cycle


Donald Schön – Reflection-in-action/Reflection-on-action

Reflection does not just take place after an event. Schon explained that reflection, albeit quick and less considered reflection, can take place during an event as well.

Graham Gibbs – Reflective Cycle

Gibbs expanded on Kolb’s experiental learning cycle. He described a structured debriefing process to enable reflection. (click the image to enlarge)

Graeme Gibbs Reflective Learning Cycle


Further reading:

Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, How Professionals Think In Action, Basic Books.

Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R. (1975) Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. in C. Cooper (ed.), Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, . London: Further Education Unit.

Case Study: Personal Tutoring in Dental Sciences


James Field, Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry/Honorary StR in Prosthodontics, recently provided a case study that detailed the School of Dental Science’s use of ePortfolio to support personal tutoring. You can see this case study below.

Please access the QuILT website to access more University case studies.

What did you do? The school worked with MSED to develop an electronic portfolio that captures and records both clinical activity, and personal reflections for BDS students. The personal reflections are able to be tagged with domains, facilitating the construction of a personal development plan which forms the basis for each tutor meeting. Student concerns can be logged against individuals on the system by members of staff, and followed up with their personal tutor.
Who is involved? The eportfolio (iDentity) is used by all BDS students and staff
How do you do it? The portfolio is available online – we provide basic training for new staff. Students are encouraged to enter reflective logs into the system, guided by their clinical teachers or academic lecturers. Tutor meetings occur twice a year as a minimum, and a template online allows students to draw on reflections across the term in order to construct a SWOT analysis and personal development plan. Tutors can work through this and use it as a basis for discussion. It also allows tutors to set a number of action points or goals, with time-related boundaries that the students can sign off once completed.
Why do you do it? The system provides an opportunity for the students to engage with reflective practise, which forms an important part of their professional development. Once captured, it also allows them to draw on this information across the whole term to form a summary of their experiences. The system also facilitates the tutor meeting, making the content specific to that individual student and guiding the tutor towards any specific areas of concern.
Does it work? The system works very well, and our students are very supportive of it. It takes a while to engage effectively with reflective practise in the early clinical stages, but we now provide a fairly comprehensive introduction to reflection in Stage 2 which the students can build on throughout the remaining years.



‘What are MOOCs?’ Day presentations are now available online

The presentations made by the three speakers during the UNITE ‘What are MOOCs?’ Day are now available to watch online:  Suzanne Hardy’s presentation is open for anyone to view. Sian Bayne and Sheila MacNeill’s presentations are only available to Newcastle Staff and when prompted, staff should choose ‘Campus’ from the drop down list and then use their usual University user ‘id’ and ‘password’ to log in.

Sheila MacNeill – “So what are MOOCs? Histories, Pedagogies, Myths and the Media

Sian Bayne – “Why should we consider MOOCs? A University Perspective

Suzanne Hardy – “What is it actually like to do a MOOC? A Student Perspective

What are MOOCs? – 15th March 2013 10.00am – 2.45pm

Venue: Bamburgh Room, King’s Road Centre: Newcastle University

Massive Open Online Courses are an exciting recent development with great potential to change Higher Education. Staff with an interest in Distance and eLearning are invited to this UNITE event. The keynote speaker will be Sian Bayne, Associate Dean for Digital Scholarship at Edinburgh University.

To reserve your place, please complete our booking form.
Contact for queries:
Mike Cameron
Carol Summerside

Event Outline

10.00 – 10.15 Tea/ Coffee

10.15 – 10.30 Introduction – The Digital Campus, MOOCs and the current ‘state of playProfessor Tony Stevenson and – Pro-Vice Chancellor – Planning and Resources

10.30 – 11.15 So what are MOOCs? Histories, Pedagogies, Myths & the MediaSheila MacNeill, Assistant Director, JISC CETIS, University of Strathclyde

11.15 – 12.00 Why should we consider MOOCs: A University Perspective?
Sian Bayne: Edinburgh University: E-Learning & Digital Cultures

 12.00 – 12.45 –  LUNCH BREAK During which the attendees can post questions for the panel session at 1:45

12.45 – 1.30 What is it actually like to do a MOOC: A Student Perspective?
Suzanne Hardy (student on E-Learning & Digital Cultures at Edinburgh University)

1.30 – 1.45 Refreshments

1.45 – 2.30   The future of MOOCS/ E-Learning Panel Discussion
Where do we go next?’  Participants:  Tony Stevenson, Dave Wolfendale, Sian Bayne, Suzanne Hardy & Shelia MacNeill. Chaired by Iain Wheeldon

2.30-2.45 What Next: Wrap Up

UK Universities ‘face online threat’ says Pearson’s Chief Education Adviser, Sir Michael Barber

Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser for Pearson, says online courses will be a “threat and opportunity” for the UK’s universities. Barber’s recent report ‘An Avalanche is coming’ is now available on line:

An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead Report (Michael Barber);


BBC report on Barber’s Report;


Links to MOOC related articles

Below are a few links to interesting blogs and relevant current articles for those attending The MOOCs event this Friday.

If you would like me to add any links/ promote interesting articles etc. then email me.

*Audrey Watters: The Year of The MOOC blog post

*Shelia MacNeill: Utopia, Dystopia, Technology Education & MOOCs

*Prime Minister welcomes Futurelearn expansion as British Library and five universities join http://futurelearn.com/news/prime-minister-welcomes-futurelearn-expansion-as-british-library-and-five-universities-join/

*Online University Giant Gets Bigger:

MOOC Event Panel Members & Call for Questions?

We will be exploring ‘The Future of MOOCs/ E-Learning in Universities’ during our panel session as part of our ‘What are MOOCs?’ event on Friday 15th March. If you would like to raise a question, please email the panel chair, Iain wheeldon at iain.wheeldon@ncl.ac.uk
The panel will be made up:
  • Sian Bayne Senior Lecturer Education, Community and Society (ECS)
  • Suzanne Hardy QuiLT, Newcastle University
  • Shelia Macneill Assistant Director, JISC CETIS, University of Strathclyde
  • Tony Stevenson Pro-Vice Chancellor –Planning & Resources, Newcastle University
  • Iain Wheeldon (Panel Chair), Senior Teaching Fellow, Chair of UNITE, Newcastle University
  • Dave Wolfendale Assistant Director Teaching, Learning & Research, Newcastle University

Improving knowledge retention with voting systems

Marina Sawdon, a lecturer in Medical Education at Durham University asks voting system questions as part of the lecture each week. Some of those questions address topics covered in previous weeks, not just the topic covered that day. She is able to use this to demonstrate to students that they are retaining knowledge. In fact, the number of correct answers goes up when she re0tests students on earlier learning. Marina badges this as an additional form of feedback to students and she has had very positve reactions from her students to these interventions. 

See http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03332.x/full for a full article on her work in this area.