Zoe Parker, Education Manager at COT, discusses critical reflection. Follow Zoe
The COT Code of continuing professional development makes several mentions of critical reflective thinking.
The College believes that using the term critical reflection avoids the danger of reflection becoming too formulaic or superficial. If we get too used to using a particular pro-forma to shape reflections, for example, the purpose of reflective practice and its effectiveness in helping us identify CPD needs, and so to plan our learning and development in order to improve practice, can be undermined. Using critical thinking skills when you are reflecting can transform reflection into critical reflection.
The COT Code of CPD was recently incorporated in the latest iteration of the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct so that you can find two core documents in one handy place to underpin safe, effective, ethical and appropriate practice. Set these alongside the professional standards and HCPC standards and you have a framework for good practice.
There’s more about the Code of CPD here. That post refers to the May 2014 edition of OT News [which is still available online] and has an interesting further article: A continuous, dynamic and strategic journey (by Sarah Lawson et al on p 34) that raises the importance of metacognitive awareness in effective personal and professional development.
Put simply, metacognitive awareness is awareness of your thinking and learning processes and how you construct your knowledge. Metacognition is thinking about thinking. It is about consciously knowing, being aware of your learning and thinking as it changes and being able to articulate what you know in the same way that you are able to explain your clinical reasoning to others. Metacognition and metacognitive awareness are strongly linked to critical reflection and a necessary underpinning skill or attribute if you are to carry out critical reflection.
I see reflective practice and critically reflective practice as being on a continuum. You could start by putting thoughts, feelings, dilemmas, questions and musings about your practice into words so you can record them in a reflective diary. If you consider how your practice matches up to your core beliefs and values as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy professional this moves you from reflective practice to reflexive practice. If you then go back and critique your earlier ideas and questions in the diary you can add another layer of meaning. You might identify some themes or perhaps relate your ideas to the relevant theory and evidence. When you identify and then question your assumptions and consider the broader context you are reflecting critically.
Does the way I have framed this make sense to you or do you see critical reflection very differently? What might the downside of critical reflection be? Please don’t hesitate to comment below!