June 24, 2024

Reflective models are essential tools in both education and personal development, providing a structured approach to learning from experiences.

Three of the most popular models are Kolb’s Reflective Cycle, Boud’s Reflection Model, and Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.

Each model has its unique features and advantages, and the choice of model often depends on the individual’s learning style and the context of the learning experience.

Kolb’s Reflective Cycle

Developed by David Kolb in 1984, this model is often referred to as “experiential learning” . It consists of four stages: Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation.

The cycle begins with a concrete experience, which is then reflected upon, leading to the development of new concepts and strategies.

These new strategies are then tested in practice, forming the basis for a new cycle of learning. Kolb’s model emphasizes the importance of reflection in the learning process, allowing learners to link their experiences with their preparatory learning, expectations, and outcomes.

Boud’s Reflection Model

The Boud Reflection Model, developed by David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker in 1985, focuses on learning through reflection on one’s practice.

This model emphasizes the role of emotions in the reflective process, encouraging learners to reflect on their experiences at work, evaluate their professional practices, and stimulate personal improvements.

Boud’s model is particularly useful for adult learners and professionals who wish to self-assess and improve their work practices.

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle, developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988, is a six-stage model that includes Description, Feelings, Evaluation, Analysis, Conclusion, and Action Plan.

This model provides a comprehensive framework for examining experiences, making it particularly useful for repeated experiences.

It encourages learners to describe their experiences, reflect on their feelings, evaluate the good and bad aspects, analyze the situation, draw conclusions, and develop an action plan for future similar situations.

Preferred Model

While all three models provide valuable frameworks for reflective learning, my personal preference is Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle.

This preference is due to the model’s comprehensive and detailed approach, which includes an explicit focus on feelings and emotions during the reflective process.

This emotional component acknowledges that personal feelings can significantly influence our experiences and how we reflect on them.

Furthermore, the six-stage cycle provides a more detailed structure, which can be particularly helpful in thoroughly analyzing complex or repeated experiences.


However, it’s important to note that the choice of a reflective model can be highly individual and context-dependent. Different models may be more suitable depending on the learner’s personal style, the nature of the learning experience, and the specific learning objectives. Therefore, it’s beneficial to familiarize oneself with various models and choose the one that best fits one’s needs.

References :

  1. Brown, N. (2015). Reflective Model according to Kolb. [online] Dr Nicole Brown. Available at: https://www.nicole-brown.co.uk/reflective-model-according-to-kolb/.
  2. Main, P. (2023). Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. [online] www.structural-learning.com. Available at: https://www.structural-learning.com/post/gibbs-reflective-cycle.
  3. Ospina Avendano, D. (2020). What is the Boud Reflection Model? Theory by Boud et al, 1985. [online] toolshero. Available at: https://www.toolshero.com/personal-development/boud-reflection-model/.
  4. Robinson, J. (2022). Meticulous exaggeration of Kolb’s reflective cycle. [online] Crowjack. Available at: https://crowjack.com/blog/strategy/reflection-models/kolb-reflective-cycle.
  5. The University of Edinburgh (2020). Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. [online] The University of Edinburgh. Available at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/reflection/reflectors-toolkit/reflecting-on-experience/gibbs-reflective-cycle.
  6. University of Manitoba (n.d.). Reflective teaching | The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning | University of Manitoba. [online] umanitoba.ca. Available at: https://umanitoba.ca/centre-advancement-teaching-learning/support/reflective-teaching.
  7. University of Puget Sound (2023). Kolb’s Learning Cycle | University of Puget Sound. [online] www.pugetsound.edu. Available at: https://www.pugetsound.edu/experiential-learning/available-resources/creating-critical-reflection-assignments-resource-1/kolbs.

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