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Reflection Toolkit

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

One of the most famous cyclical models of reflection leading you through six stages exploring an experience: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan.

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 to give structure to learning from experiences.  It offers a framework for examining experiences, and given its cyclic nature lends itself particularly well to repeated experiences, allowing you to learn and plan from things that either went well or didn’t go well. It covers 6 stages:

  • Description of the experience
  • Feelings and thoughts about the experience
  • Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad
  • Analysis to make sense of the situation
  • Conclusion about what you learned and what you could have done differently
  • Action plan for how you would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes you might find appropriate.

Below is further information on:

  • The model – each stage is given a fuller description, guiding questions to ask yourself and an example of how this might look in a reflection
  • Different depths of reflection – an example of reflecting more briefly using this model

This is just one model of reflection. Test it out and see how it works for you. If you find that only a few of the questions are helpful for you, focus on those. However, by thinking about each stage you are more likely to engage critically with your learning experience.

A circular diagram showing the 6 stages of Gibbs' Reflective cycle

This model is a good way to work through an experience. This can be either a stand-alone experience or a situation you go through frequently, for example meetings with a team you have to collaborate with. Gibbs originally advocated its use in repeated situations, but the stages and principles apply equally well for single experiences too. If done with a stand-alone experience, the action plan may become more general and look at how you can apply your conclusions in the future.

For each of the stages of the model a number of helpful questions are outlined below. You don’t have to answer all of them but they can guide you about what sort of things make sense to include in that stage. You might have other prompts that work better for you.


Here you have a chance to describe the situation in detail. The main points to include here concern what happened. Your feelings and conclusions will come later.

Helpful questions:

  • What happened?
  • When and where did it happen?
  • Who was present?
  • What did you and the other people do?
  • What was the outcome of the situation?
  • Why were you there?
  • What did you want to happen?

Example of 'Description'

Here you can explore any feelings or thoughts that you had during the experience and how they may have impacted the experience.

  • What were you feeling during the situation?
  • What were you feeling before and after the situation?
  • What do you think other people were feeling about the situation?
  • What do you think other people feel about the situation now?
  • What were you thinking during the situation?
  • What do you think about the situation now?

Example of 'Feelings'

Here you have a chance to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work in the situation. Try to be as objective and honest as possible. To get the most out of your reflection focus on both the positive and the negative aspects of the situation, even if it was primarily one or the other.

  • What was good and bad about the experience?
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What did you and other people contribute to the situation (positively or negatively)?

Example of 'Evaluation'

The analysis step is where you have a chance to make sense of what happened. Up until now you have focused on details around what happened in the situation. Now you have a chance to extract meaning from it. You want to target the different aspects that went well or poorly and ask yourself why. If you are looking to include academic literature, this is the natural place to include it.

  • Why did things go well?
  • Why didn’t it go well?
  • What sense can I make of the situation?
  • What knowledge – my own or others (for example academic literature) can help me understand the situation?

Example of 'Analysis'


In this section you can make conclusions about what happened. This is where you summarise your learning and highlight what changes to your actions could improve the outcome in the future. It should be a natural response to the previous sections.

  • What did I learn from this situation?
  • How could this have been a more positive situation for everyone involved?
  • What skills do I need to develop for me to handle a situation like this better?
  • What else could I have done?

Example of a 'Conclusion'

Action plan.

At this step you plan for what you would do differently in a similar or related situation in the future. It can also be extremely helpful to think about how you will help yourself to act differently – such that you don’t only plan what you will do differently, but also how you will make sure it happens. Sometimes just the realisation is enough, but other times reminders might be helpful.

  • If I had to do the same thing again, what would I do differently?
  • How will I develop the required skills I need?
  • How can I make sure that I can act differently next time?

Example of 'Action Plan'

Different depths of reflection.

Depending on the context you are doing the reflection in, you might want use different levels of details. Here is the same scenario, which was used in the example above, however it is presented much more briefly.

Adapted from

Gibbs G (1988). Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.

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How to write a Reflection on Group Work Essay

Here are the exact steps you need to follow for a reflection on group work essay.

  • Explain what Reflection Is
  • Explore the benefits of group work
  • Explore the challenges group
  • Give examples of the benefits and challenges your group faced
  • Discuss how your group handled your challenges
  • Discuss what you will do differently next time

Do you have to reflect on how your group work project went?

This is a super common essay that teachers assign. So, let’s have a look at how you can go about writing a superb reflection on your group work project that should get great grades.

The essay structure I outline below takes the funnel approach to essay writing: it starts broad and general, then zooms in on your specific group’s situation.

how to write a reflection on group work essay

Disclaimer: Make sure you check with your teacher to see if this is a good style to use for your essay. Take a draft to your teacher to get their feedback on whether it’s what they’re looking for!

This is a 6-step essay (the 7 th step is editing!). Here’s a general rule for how much depth to go into depending on your word count:

  • 1500 word essay – one paragraph for each step, plus a paragraph each for the introduction and conclusion ;
  • 3000 word essay – two paragraphs for each step, plus a paragraph each for the introduction and conclusion;
  • 300 – 500 word essay – one or two sentences for each step.

Adjust this essay plan depending on your teacher’s requirements and remember to always ask your teacher, a classmate or a professional tutor to review the piece before submitting.

Here’s the steps I’ll outline for you in this advice article:

diagram showing the 6 step funnel approach to essays

Step 1. Explain what ‘Reflection’ Is

You might have heard that you need to define your terms in essays. Well, the most important term in this essay is ‘reflection’.

So, let’s have a look at what reflection is…

Reflection is the process of:

  • Pausing and looking back at what has just happened; then
  • Thinking about how you can get better next time.

Reflection is encouraged in most professions because it’s believed that reflection helps you to become better at your job – we could say ‘reflection makes you a better practitioner’.

Think about it: let’s say you did a speech in front of a crowd. Then, you looked at video footage of that speech and realised you said ‘um’ and ‘ah’ too many times. Next time, you’re going to focus on not saying ‘um’ so that you’ll do a better job next time, right?

Well, that’s reflection: thinking about what happened and how you can do better next time.

It’s really important that you do both of the above two points in your essay. You can’t just say what happened. You need to say how you will do better next time in order to get a top grade on this group work reflection essay.

Scholarly Sources to Cite for Step 1

Okay, so you have a good general idea of what reflection is. Now, what scholarly sources should you use when explaining reflection? Below, I’m going to give you two basic sources that would usually be enough for an undergraduate essay. I’ll also suggest two more sources for further reading if you really want to shine!

I recommend these two sources to cite when explaining what reflective practice is and how it occurs. They are two of the central sources on reflective practice:

  • Describe what happened during the group work process
  • Explain how you felt during the group work process
  • Look at the good and bad aspects of the group work process
  • What were some of the things that got in the way of success? What were some things that helped you succeed?
  • What could you have done differently to improve the situation?
  • Action plan. What are you going to do next time to make the group work process better?
  • What? Explain what happened
  • So What? Explain what you learned
  • Now What? What can I do next time to make the group work process better?

Possible Sources:

Bassot, B. (2015).  The reflective practice guide: An interdisciplinary approach to critical reflection . Routledge.

Brock, A. (2014). What is reflection and reflective practice?. In  The Early Years Reflective Practice Handbook  (pp. 25-39). Routledge.

Gibbs, G. (1988)  Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods . Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001). Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Extension Sources for Top Students

Now, if you want to go deeper and really show off your knowledge, have a look at these two scholars:

  • John Dewey – the first major scholar to come up with the idea of reflective practice
  • Donald Schön – technical rationality, reflection in action vs. reflection on action

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Step 2. Explore the general benefits of group work for learning

Once you have given an explanation of what group work is (and hopefully cited Gibbs, Rolfe, Dewey or Schon), I recommend digging into the benefits of group work for your own learning.

The teacher gave you a group work task for a reason: what is that reason?

You’ll need to explain the reasons group work is beneficial for you. This will show your teacher that you understand what group work is supposed to achieve. Here’s some ideas:

  • Multiple Perspectives. Group work helps you to see things from other people’s perspectives. If you did the task on your own, you might not have thought of some of the ideas that your team members contributed to the project.
  • Contribution of Unique Skills. Each team member might have a different set of skills they can bring to the table. You can explain how groups can make the most of different team members’ strengths to make the final contribution as good as it can be. For example, one team member might be good at IT and might be able to put together a strong final presentation, while another member might be a pro at researching using google scholar so they got the task of doing the initial scholarly research.
  • Improved Communication Skills. Group work projects help you to work on your communication skills. Communication skills required in group work projects include speaking in turn, speaking up when you have ideas, actively listening to other team members’ contributions, and crucially making compromises for the good of the team.
  • Learn to Manage Workplace Conflict. Lastly, your teachers often assign you group work tasks so you can learn to manage conflict and disagreement. You’ll come across this a whole lot in the workplace, so your teachers want you to have some experience being professional while handling disagreements.

You might be able to add more ideas to this list, or you might just want to select one or two from that list to write about depending on the length requirements for the essay.

Scholarly Sources for Step 3

Make sure you provide citations for these points above. You might want to use google scholar or google books and type in ‘Benefits of group work’ to find some quality scholarly sources to cite.

Step 3. Explore the general challenges group work can cause

Step 3 is the mirror image of Step 2. For this step, explore the challenges posed by group work.

Students are usually pretty good at this step because you can usually think of some aspects of group work that made you anxious or frustrated. Here are a few common challenges that group work causes:

  • Time Consuming. You need to organize meetups and often can’t move onto the next component of the project until everyone has agree to move on. When working on your own you can just crack on and get it done. So, team work often takes a lot of time and requires significant pre-planning so you don’t miss your submission deadlines!
  • Learning Style Conflicts. Different people learn in different ways. Some of us like to get everything done at the last minute or are not very meticulous in our writing. Others of us are very organized and detailed and get anxious when things don’t go exactly how we expect. This leads to conflict and frustration in a group work setting.
  • Free Loaders. Usually in a group work project there’s people who do more work than others. The issue of free loaders is always going to be a challenge in group work, and you can discuss in this section how ensuring individual accountability to the group is a common group work issue.
  • Communication Breakdown. This is one especially for online students. It’s often the case that you email team members your ideas or to ask them to reply by a deadline and you don’t hear back from them. Regular communication is an important part of group work, yet sometimes your team members will let you down on this part.

As with Step 3, consider adding more points to this list if you need to, or selecting one or two if your essay is only a short one.

8 Pros And Cons Of Group Work At University

You’ll probably find you can cite the same scholarly sources for both steps 2 and 3 because if a source discusses the benefits of group work it’ll probably also discuss the challenges.

Step 4. Explore the specific benefits and challenges your group faced

Step 4 is where you zoom in on your group’s specific challenges. Have a think: what were the issues you really struggled with as a group?

  • Was one team member absent for a few of the group meetings?
  • Did the group have to change some deadlines due to lack of time?
  • Were there any specific disagreements you had to work through?
  • Did a group member drop out of the group part way through?
  • Were there any communication break downs?

Feel free to also mention some things your group did really well. Have a think about these examples:

  • Was one member of the group really good at organizing you all?
  • Did you make some good professional relationships?
  • Did a group member help you to see something from an entirely new perspective?
  • Did working in a group help you to feel like you weren’t lost and alone in the process of completing the group work component of your course?

Here, because you’re talking about your own perspectives, it’s usually okay to use first person language (but check with your teacher). You are also talking about your own point of view so citations might not be quite as necessary, but it’s still a good idea to add in one or two citations – perhaps to the sources you cited in Steps 2 and 3?

Step 5. Discuss how your group managed your challenges

Step 5 is where you can explore how you worked to overcome some of the challenges you mentioned in Step 4.

So, have a think:

  • Did your group make any changes part way through the project to address some challenges you faced?
  • Did you set roles or delegate tasks to help ensure the group work process went smoothly?
  • Did you contact your teacher at any point for advice on how to progress in the group work scenario?
  • Did you use technology such as Google Docs or Facebook Messenger to help you to collaborate more effectively as a team?

In this step, you should be showing how your team was proactive in reflecting on your group work progress and making changes throughout the process to ensure it ran as smoothly as possible. This act of making little changes throughout the group work process is what’s called ‘Reflection in Action’ (Schön, 2017).

Scholarly Source for Step 5

Schön, D. A. (2017).  The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action . Routledge.

Step 6. Conclude by exploring what you will do differently next time

Step 6 is the most important step, and the one far too many students skip. For Step 6, you need to show how you not only reflected on what happened but also are able to use that reflection for personal growth into the future.

This is the heart and soul of your piece: here, you’re tying everything together and showing why reflection is so important!

This is the ‘action plan’ step in Gibbs’ cycle (you might want to cite Gibbs in this section!).

For Step 6, make some suggestions about how (based on your reflection) you now have some takeaway tips that you’ll bring forward to improve your group work skills next time. Here’s some ideas:

  • Will you work harder next time to set deadlines in advance?
  • Will you ensure you set clearer group roles next time to ensure the process runs more smoothly?
  • Will you use a different type of technology (such as Google Docs) to ensure group communication goes more smoothly?
  • Will you make sure you ask for help from your teacher earlier on in the process when you face challenges?
  • Will you try harder to see things from everyone’s perspectives so there’s less conflict?

This step will be personalized based upon your own group work challenges and how you felt about the group work process. Even if you think your group worked really well together, I recommend you still come up with one or two ideas for continual improvement. Your teacher will want to see that you used reflection to strive for continual self-improvement.

Scholarly Source for Step 6

Step 7. edit.

Okay, you’ve got the nuts and bolts of the assessment put together now! Next, all you’ve got to do is write up the introduction and conclusion then edit the piece to make sure you keep growing your grades.

Here’s a few important suggestions for this last point:

  • You should always write your introduction and conclusion last. They will be easier to write now that you’ve completed the main ‘body’ of the essay;
  • Use my 5-step I.N.T.R.O method to write your introduction;
  • Use my 5 C’s Conclusion method to write your conclusion;
  • Use my 5 tips for editing an essay to edit it;
  • Use the ProWritingAid app to get advice on how to improve your grammar and spelling. Make sure to also use the report on sentence length. It finds sentences that are too long and gives you advice on how to shorten them – such a good strategy for improving evaluative essay  quality!
  • Make sure you contact your teacher and ask for a one-to-one tutorial to go through the piece before submitting. This article only gives general advice, and you might need to make changes based upon the specific essay requirements that your teacher has provided.

That’s it! 7 steps to writing a quality group work reflection essay. I hope you found it useful. If you liked this post and want more clear and specific advice on writing great essays, I recommend signing up to my personal tutor mailing list.

Let’s sum up with those 7 steps one last time:

  • Explain what ‘Reflection’ Is
  • Explore the benefits of group work for learning
  • Explore the challenges of group work for learning
  • Explore the specific benefits and challenges your group faced
  • Discuss how your group managed your challenges
  • Conclude by exploring what you will do differently next time


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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2 thoughts on “How to write a Reflection on Group Work Essay”

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Great instructions on writing a reflection essay. I would not change anything.

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Thanks so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it. – Chris.

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Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

What is the gibbs' reflective cycle.

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle is a Tool that helps professionals Grow and Learn from their past Experiences .

To do this, it proposes to analyze the Situations in which someone wants to Improve.

  • Drawing Conclusions that allow us to do things better in the future.

It consists of  6 Repetitive Steps (a cycle):

  • Description .
  • Evaluation .
  • Conclusion .
  • Action Plan .

This cycle must be repeated until Obtaining the Desired Results .

The Six Steps of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

1. Description : Describe in detail the Situation in which you want to improve .

  • A Negotiation, A Decision you made, a Discussion with your employees, etc.

2. Feelings : Reflect on How you Felt in that Situation, How you Coped with it.

  • Did you feel Insecure? Did you feel Determined? Did you Hesitate?

3. Evaluation : Evaluate the Experience and its Outcome , Objectively.

  • What Consequences did it have, What worked, What did not, etc.

4. Analysis : Analyze the Reasons that explain the Result of this Situation.

  • Why something worked or didn’t work. Why you Made that Decision, etc.

5. Conclusion : Get the Lessons from this Analysis; How to do things better.

  • What could have been done better? What could be done in a different way?

6. Action Plan : Develop and Implement a Plan to do things better.

  • Applying the Conclusions obtained in this Cycle.

Repeat the Cycle until Reaching the Desired Results .

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle Template

Now, before sharing some examples , we want to explain one important thing:

  • How to use this Cycle .

We know that it can get a bit Confusing (Feelings, Action Plan, etc).

That is why we’ll offer you a Guideline that you can Follow .

  • It can be used for your Personal Analysis or, in Coaching Situations.

How to use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Description : Details are important, as is the Context of any Situation.

  • The Place and People Involved.
  • What Interactions happened.

Feelings : They Can give us a Clue as to what we need to Improve .

  • If we feel Insecure, it is usually because we do not know the Subject well enough.
  • What made you feel Uncomfortable?
  • What made you feel Determined?

Evaluation : Here, you should not try to find Reasons , only Facts .

  • What worked, What didn’t work, and under What Circumstances.
  • The Outcome: What happened After the Situation?

Analysis : Now it is the time to find the Whys .

  • Why is the Reason something Worked? The Root Cause.
  • Potential Root causes causing you a Problem.

Conclusions : Time to “Connect the Dots” and obtain Solid Conclusions .

  • What Solid Conclusions have you Obtained?
  • What Could have been done better?

Action Plan : Now, you have to put things into Practice .

  • Set Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Time-Related Goals.
  • Use Objective Metrics.

Let’s see some examples:

Gibbs Reflective Cycle examples

Now, let’s Imagine that you have recently been Promoted to Manager .

You are very happy about it, but you do not feel very Comfortable when you face your employees .

  • Sometimes you have to impose yourself, so that what you say is done.

Also, it is something you would like to Improve on .

That is Why you decided to use Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle .

Let’s see How you use it:

Description - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

The Situation in which you want to Improve :

  • It is You and your Employees (no matter Who).
  • You are In front of them alone or in a collective meeting.
  • You Want things to be done in a New way.
  • You Tell them how they have to do things from now on .

Feelings - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

After thinking Carefully about it, you Discover that you Felt :

  • Anxious about Compelling People to do Something.
  • Insecure about you Authority.
  • Determined about the Need of doing the Things in a New Way.

Evaluation - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

You then Evaluate what happens in these Situations :

  • You Compel your employees to do what you say.
  • They obey you.
  • Those who know you best Respond much better to your Commands .
  • Those who don’t know you are more Reluctant to change .

Analysis - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

Now, you start thinking about the Whys :

  • This makes you Feel Insecure.
  • They don’t make you Feel Anxious or Insecure .
  • That and , the fact that you are New in the Position .

Conclusion - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

You Obtain important Conclusions from this Analysis :

  • Or People that don’t know your Skills when making decisions.

This People are Reluctant to “obey” you, and make you Feel Insecure and Anxious.

  • So they will Trust you more.
  • And they will Trust your Authority more.

Action Plan - Gibbs Reflective Cycle example

Finally, you decide to Develop an Action Plan :

  • Starting with those who know you least.
  • Comparing the Previous Results with the Current ones.

You Estimate that you will need 2 months to have met with all your employees.

  • And decide if you need to repeat this Cycle again.

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle is a Tool that helps professionals Grow and Learn from their past Experiences.

Consists of 6 Repetitive Steps that must be repeated until getting the desired Results:

  • Description : Describe in detail the Situation in which you want to improve.
  • Feelings : Reflect on How you Felt in that Situation, How you Coped with it.
  • Evaluation : Evaluate the Experience and its Outcome, Objectively.
  • Analysis : Analyze the Reasons that explain the Result of this Situation.
  • Conclusion : Get the Lessons from this Analysis; How to do things better.
  • Action Plan : Develop and Implement a Plan to do things better.
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Gibbs Reflective Cycle - 6 Stages, Pros and Cons

Understanding Gibbs Reflective Cycle | Assignment Desk

Table Of Contents

What is gibbs reflective cycle, how did gibbs reflective modal originate, what are the 6 stages of gibbs reflective cycle, what are the pros and cons of gibbs reflective cycle, learn gibbs cycle with the help of

After a considerable life, some people realise that they learn better with experience. Therefore, they are not designed to consume words without knowing them.

It is a fact that when one reflects on their experience, they do everything better. They are allowed to discover new boundaries in any situation. They can ask questions such as "what could have been done better" when it's hard for them to learn. It is where Gibbs Reflective Cycle comes into play. This cycle helps them understand what was right done by them and what they could have done better. Anyone can use it to make sense of any situation at work or home.

One of the most popular cyclic models of reflection is used. It leads to six stages of any experience. However, before we get into these stages, let's first understand what the Gibbs reflective cycle is:

It is a cycle that helps people analyse their experiences. It can be concerning for any situation or scenario they have had while performing a particular activity. The primary aim of Gibbs model of reflection is to enhance the systematic thinking of anyone so that they can come to an effective conclusion. The drawback generated will help them gather courage and understanding to do better next time.

Therefore, it improves anyone's attention and ability to analyse any significant task they are engaged in. And also clear them of the mistakes they have made in such situations. After following Gibbs Reflective Cycl e, anyone can gain good learning to analyse part of their experience and improve their actions in the future. And many other things that are related to any particular task.

Interesting! Is it not? You are improving your ability to analyse your activities and tasks with a model. Do you know this cycle's past events? If not, read the following section to learn more.

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Professor Graham Gibbs was the man who supported "experimental learning." In his 1988 book, "Learning by Doing," he published the model. He published the model in his 1988 book, Learning by Doing. The book drew in the top psychologists of the time. They started to research the model using various scenarios and actions that a person would take daily. The Kolb learning cycle served as the model for the theory.

Gibbs cycle of reflection was said to be the best way to reflect on the past and discover how to deal with challenging circumstances without becoming alarmed or anxious. It developed into a crucial instructional technique that assisted learners in making sense of each task they completed. These days, nursing students use this model to comprehend various patient-related health scenarios. Accepting a failure as a lesson learned and delving into what went wrong aids them in overcoming a setback. To better understand, you can look for some examples of Gibbs model of reflection related to nursing backgrounds.

The main focus of nursing is taking care of patients and offering specific services throughout treatment. They are often asked to write assignments on their study of the Gibbs model. Students who need an A+ paper on the Gibbs model written by professionals turn to Nursing assignment help . As a result, the following section is the most important one in this article. Read it thoroughly.

Also Read:  How to Write a Reflective Essay Which Reflects Your Life Experience?

A management and self-reflection tool. To critically engage with the learning experience and draw conclusions, practice-based learning enables people to think logically and methodically about their various adventures.

6 Stages of Gibbs Reflective Cycle

There are six steps in the Gibbs reflective model . The first three steps are concerned with what took place during the experience that is being studied. The final three steps address how you can enhance your knowledge for similar situations you may encounter in the future.

1. Description

You have to describe the experience in the initial phase. Provide background information and a factual account of the incident's specifics. Setting the stage for later analysis and evaluation, this step of the Gibbs Reflective Cycle functions similarly. To provide clear, accurate information to facilitate understanding. You might inquire as follows:

  • What happened?
  • When and where did it happen?
  • Who was there?
  • What did you do?
  • What did other people do?
  • What was the result of this situation?
  • Why were you there?
  • What did you want to happen?

Example : Gibbs cycle of reflection Description: My group, which consisted of three other students from my course, and I divided the various sections between us so that we would only have to research one component each for an assessed written group-work assignment. We didn't schedule a time to sit down and write the work together because we thought we could piece it together in the afternoon, the day before the deadline. But as soon as we sat down, it became apparent that the sections were written differently. To turn the assignment into coherent work, we were forced to rewrite most of it. We had allotted ourselves enough time before the deadline to write our sections independently, but we still needed to budget a lot of time to rewrite in case something went wrong. So that the assignment could be completed in time for the deadline, two members of the group had to cancel their evening plans.

Discuss your feelings, actions, and thoughts about the experience in step two of the Gibbs cycle . Never attempt to evaluate or judge the senses. Indicate them. Recall your emotions before, during, and following the incident. What may the experience have been like for others? What are your current thoughts on it?

  • What emotions did you have before the event?
  • What did you think during the crisis that took place?
  • What do other people experience?
  • What were you thinking during the case?
  • What did you feel after the event?
  • What do you believe other people are currently thinking about the situation?
  • What are your current thoughts about the situation?

Example of Gibbs model of reflection of Feeling: I was content and thought we had divided the work up wisely before we got together and realised we still had a lot of work to do. I became quite irritated when we realised we couldn't turn in the assignment as is. I needed more motivation to do the rewriting because I was confident it would be successful. It is because a few group members had to postpone their plans, I felt pretty guilty, which motivated me to work harder and finish the work earlier in the evening. I'm glad we chose the effort-related course of action in retrospect.

3. Evaluation

The evaluation of the circumstances is the focus of this step. Whether they were good or bad, your experiences must be described. Be clear on the main goals as you assess the situation, highlighting the successes and failures. To write a stellar evaluation section just like how we provide assignment help , you must elaborate on the points listed below:

  • What went well?
  • What didn't go so well?
  • Was the situation resolved afterwards? Why or why not?
  • Things that went well in the situation
  • Something that didn't go well in the situation
  • What positives or negatives did you contribute?
  • What positives or negatives did others provide?

Gibbs model of reflection example of evaluation: The fact that each group member delivered high-calibre work by the set deadline was one of the things that worked well. In addition, the fact that two group members had to postpone plans inspired us to work harder that night. That enhanced the group's commitment to hard work. On the other hand, we assumed that everyone would write in a different style, which made the group's overall time plan ineffective.

4. Analysis

This Gibbs Reflective Cycle is the best opportunity to make sense of what happened and determine what lesson you have learned. You had been concentrating on the specifics of the situation until this point, but you now have the opportunity to conclude it. By doing this, you'll be prepared to handle the same situation effectively. First, list the good and bad things that occur to analyse both properly. Then, you can consider the following queries:

  • Why did things go well in this situation?
  • What are the reasons for the mistakes that occurred during the crisis?
  • What sense can one make of the problem?
  • What knowledge is required to understand the problem?
  • What knowledge of other people helps to understand the problem?

Gibbs model of reflection example of analysis: After some reflection, I concluded that I should have researched cooking times and used a timer to aid in my planning. Overall, though, the evening was enjoyable, and while some attention was paid to my food, that was not our only goal. After the event, I spoke with a few of my friends, and their encouraging comments helped me realise that my outgoing nature made them feel comfortable and helped them enjoy the evening.

5. Conclusion

You can now conclude what transpired. You can do that by reflecting on how you felt at the time and imagining what else you could have done. You will significantly benefit from the knowledge gathered as you strive to improve yourself. To improve the outcome in the future, you summarise your expertise and highlight the changes in this step of the Gibbs reflective model . Keep in mind that it ought to be a natural reaction. You may find these questions helpful in this regard:

  • What skills can you learn to enhance them?
  • Can you use those skills now?
  • If you faced the same situation, what would you do differently?
  • How are you planning to turn the adverse outcomes into positive ones?

Gibbs model of reflection example of Conclusion: When a group wants to divide work into sections, we must first decide how each area looks and feels. If we had done this, it would have been possible to put the teams together and submit them without doing much rewriting. In addition, I'll keep asking people to identify their strengths, and for longer projects, I might suggest using the "Belbin team roles" framework. Finally, I discovered that sometimes we question our group's choices to ensure that we are not just making these choices out of groupthink.

6. Action Plan

It is the final action. Be proactive and outline your plans for putting them into action. Based on your findings, make the necessary adjustments to position yourself for the next instance of the same circumstance. For citation guidance, refer to the Gibbs model of reflection or seek professional assistance.

  • What did you learn from the situation?
  • What skills do you need to develop to become a better person?
  • What could have been a more favourable situation for everyone out there?
  • What else could have been done?

Gibbs cycle of reflection example of Action Plan: The following time I host an evening, I should practise beforehand so I can use a tried-and-true method. Thanks to this, I'll feel more organised and confident as the event approaches. And tried methods could also ask someone more accustomed to doing this for advice.

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The Gibbs model of reflection has several benefits and drawbacks. Some pros and cons are given below.

Advantages of Gibbs Reflective Cycle

  • The theoretical model is simple to use and comprehend.
  • The procedure enables you to apply the technique repeatedly and with various outcomes.
  • You get better at it as you practise more.
  • You gain more excellent equilibrium and more reliable judgement through practice.

Disadvantages of Gibbs Reflective Cycle

  • It takes a reactive approach rather than a proactive one.
  • Since there is no mention of critical thinking, many people consider it superficial.
  • There are no empirically supported questions in the model.
  • It can be difficult for many people to express their emotions. This model cannot be used there.
  • A novice may need help to carry out the study successfully without a guide or experienced practitioner.

Knowing where to begin the reflective process can be challenging if you are not used to it. Fortunately, there are many models you can use as a framework for your reflection, such as the Driscoll reflective model , the Era cycle, Kolb's experiential learning cycle, etc., to help you approach your reflection better.

Also Read:  Reflective Journal: A Guide on Writing Reflection-On-Action with Few Examples

Now that you understand how the Gibbs cycle works, it is time to put it into practice and produce a better result this time. If you still require assistance, you can use our professional writers, and they'll elevate your academic performance.

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Article • 5 min read

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

Helping people learn from experience.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

gibbs reflective cycle example essay group work

Many people find that they learn best from experience.

However, if they don't reflect on their experience, and if they don't consciously think about how they could do better next time, it's hard for them to learn anything at all.

This is where Gibbs' Reflective Cycle is useful. You can use it to help your people make sense of situations at work, so that they can understand what they did well and what they could do better in the future.

What Is Gibbs' Reflective Cycle?

Professor Graham Gibbs published his Reflective Cycle in his 1988 book " Learning by Doing ." It's particularly useful for helping people learn from situations that they experience regularly, especially when these don't go well.

Gibbs' cycle is shown below.

Figure 1 – Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

gibbs reflective cycle example essay group work

From "Learning by Doing" by Graham Gibbs. Published by Oxford Polytechnic, 1988.

Gibbs' original model had six stages. The stage we haven't covered here is "Analysis" – we've included this as part of the Evaluation stage.

Using the Model

You can use the model to explore a situation yourself, or you can use it with someone you're coaching – we look at coaching use in this article, but you can apply the same approach when you're on your own.

To structure a coaching session using Gibbs' Cycle, choose a situation to analyze and then work through the steps below.

Step 1: Description

First, ask the person you're coaching to describe the situation in detail. At this stage, you simply want to know what happened – you'll draw conclusions later.

Consider asking questions like these to help them describe the situation:

  • When and where did this happen?
  • Why were you there?
  • Who else was there?
  • What happened?
  • What did you do?
  • What did other people do?
  • What was the result of this situation?

Step 2: Feelings

Next, encourage them to talk about what they thought and felt during the experience. At this stage, avoid commenting on their emotions.

Use questions like these to guide the discussion:

  • What did you feel before this situation took place?
  • What did you feel while this situation took place?
  • What do you think other people felt during this situation?
  • What did you feel after the situation?
  • What do you think about the situation now?
  • What do you think other people feel about the situation now?

It might be difficult for some people to talk honestly about their feelings. Use Empathic Listening at this stage to connect with them emotionally, and to try to see things from their point of view.

You can use the Perceptual Positions technique to help this person see the situation from other people's perspectives.

Step 3: Evaluation

Now you need to encourage the person you're coaching to look objectively at what approaches worked, and which ones didn't.

  • What was positive about this situation?
  • What was negative?
  • What went well?
  • What didn't go so well?
  • What did you and other people do to contribute to the situation (either positively or negatively)?

If appropriate, use a technique such as the 5 Whys to help your team member uncover the root cause of the issue.

Step 4: Conclusions

Once you've evaluated the situation, you can help your team member draw conclusions about what happened.

Encourage them to think about the situation again, using the information that you've collected so far. Then ask questions like these:

  • How could this have been a more positive experience for everyone involved?
  • If you were faced with the same situation again, what would you do differently?
  • What skills do you need to develop, so that you can handle this type of situation better?

Step 5: Action

You should now have some possible actions that your team member can take to deal with similar situations more effectively in the future.

In this last stage, you need to come up with a plan so that they can make these changes.

Once you've identified the areas they'll work on, get them to commit to taking action, and agree a date on which you will both review progress.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

What is purpose of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle?

The reflective cycle is a way to better learn from experience. It can be used to help people learn from mistakes, to make sense of situations, and analyse and refelct on their reactions to different situations.

What are the six stages of reflection?

The stages of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle are the following: descrition, feelings, evaluation, conclusion, and action. In the original model Gibbs included a sixth stage, analysis, which we've included in the evaluation stage.

What is the difference between Gibbs and Kolb's reflective cycles?

David Kolb's cycle has only four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Kolb's model is more about explaining the concept of what he calls "experiential learning" – whereas Gibbs' cycle is an attempt to provide a practical method for learning from experience.

This tool is structured as a cycle, reflecting an ongoing coaching relationship. Whether you use it this way depends on the situation and your relationship with the person being coached.

Graham Gibbs published his Reflective Cycle in 1988. There are five stages in the cycle:

  • Description.
  • Evaluation.
  • Conclusions.

You can use it to help team members think about how they deal with situations, so that they can understand what they did wel and where they need to improve.

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Reflective writing: Gibbs

  • What is reflection? Why do it?
  • What does reflection involve?
  • Reflective questioning
  • Reflective writing for academic assessment
  • Types of reflective assignments
  • Differences between discursive and reflective writing
  • Sources of evidence for reflective writing assignments
  • Linking theory to experience
  • Reflective essays
  • Portfolios and learning journals, logs and diaries
  • Examples of reflective writing
  • Video summary
  • Bibliography

On this page: ​​

Gibbs' framework “emphasises the importance of being able to generalise, to transfer knowledge and insights gained from one situation to another ” Williams et al., Reflective Writing

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

Similar to Kolb's Learning Cycle , Gibbs (1988) Reflective Cycle also provides a structure for a reflective essay.

The structure of a piece of reflective writing, whether it be an essay or learning log entry, might consist of six components or paragraphs that follow Gibb’s cycle:

Model of Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

A cycle moving around the following: Description (Describe what happened briefly) - Feelings (Describe feelings/emotional response) - Evaluation (What was good/bad about response) -  Analysis (Use research to make sense of it) - Conclusions (General conclusions and specific conclusions - Action Plan (What would you do next time?)

Criticism of this framework

Don't let it put you off using Gibbs' Reflective Cycle, but do take into account that there has been some criticism about it's lack of depth. For example, the Open University suggest the following:

Despite the further breakdown, it can be argued that this model could still result in fairly superficial reflection as it doesn’t refer to critical thinking/analysis or reflection. It doesn’t take into consideration assumptions that you may hold about the experience, the need to look objectively at different perspectives, and there doesn’t seem to be an explicit suggestion that the learning will result in a change of assumptions, perspectives or practice. You could legitimately respond to the question ‘What would you do next time?’ by answering that you would do the same, but does that constitute deep level reflection?

Open University (2014) in  OpenLearn

The Reflective Cycle has six distinctive stages, leading from a description of the event/experience through to conclusions and consideration for future events.

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Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle in Healthcare Essay

Introduction, description, action plan.

Healthcare givers utilize Gibbs’ reflective cycle to develop a learning structure from experience. It was created in 1988 by Graham Gibbs and has been very critical in the field of medicine (Ezezika & Johnston, 2022). Repeated experiences and encounters with the patients in the hospital enable nurses to be familiar with different conditions and learn how to handle them better. Cases of emergencies are given priority to save lives and facilitate the healing process. This essay examines Gibb’s reflective cycle, specifically on the triaging system, with an explanation of the role of nursing leadership and education based on a reflective situation.

Leadership and education roles are essential in nursing emergencies and disasters. In case of emergencies, healthcare givers who have been educated on the need to respond immediately save the lives of many individuals by acting immediately. This includes administering first aid procedures and administering medications that relieve pain. Effective communication skills enable nurses bear in mind the differences in culture and preferences and respect them ( James et al., 2022). Being sensitive to beliefs and establishing boundaries enables each person to take their duties as assigned. Leadership role entails being a personal driver and taking duties without supervision. Workers must motivate each other on the need to collaborate to achieve the set goals and objectives.

Additionally, nurses must be aware of conflict resolution and problem-solving strategies and their application. Dealing with people from different cultures is complex and requires strategic approaches. The idea of resource management also can be associated with leadership. Facilities used in the hospital must be taken care of as they support patients in many ways. Since they are expensive to purchase, the available ones should be maintained regularly. The policies and guidelines of the set healthcare system must be obeyed to eliminate disagreements with the managers. These combined skills make the health professional complete socially and physically. Patient privacy is kept by keeping their data reports confidential. Strong passwords are used, and access to stored data must only be limited to authorized individuals.

I will explain an incident that I experienced when attending to a patient in the hospital’s emergency unit. It was during my internship, and I had not acquired so much competency in the profession. He had chest pains and had difficulties in breathing. Upon examining his medical history, it was highlighted that he had a lung infection resulting from smoking. He could barely communicate appropriately due to verbal problems making the diagnosis difficult. The specific areas of reflection focus on how other nurses and I utilized practical communication skills to show compassion to the client. His wife, who had accompanied him, was so stressed, and all she could cry was crying because of fear. However, we calmed the patient and addressed his individual needs appropriately.

Since it was my first time to handle a patient with such conditions, I was mindful of the patient’s condition and how to handle it effectively. Therefore, I allowed one of my colleagues to take the prominent role since she was more experienced. This resulted in a vulnerable state which required the most care for healing. However, the other nurse could not take the case as an emergency, increasing my anxiety about whether to act. She kept on shouting at the wife, who was in the patient’s company, telling her to be quiet. Despite the condition, the nurse felt that she could be more concerned about the remedy to be administered than causing unnecessary tension. As a nurse, treating all individuals with care is essential since it is difficult to understand the damage resulting from rude responses.

A deep examination of the incident illustrates both bad and good experiences, which are critical in my role as a nurse. As a healthcare practitioner, many roles have been assigned to me and must be attended to effectively. Performing physical examinations, prescription and administering medication, giving support to patients, and recommending of laboratory tests are some of my duties. However, from the incident that happened, I feel that I did not take my responsibilities as required. I could have talked to my other nurse about the need to handle patients and their families with care. On the positive side, I was able to apply effective communication cues to handle the patient. Failure to work as a team in the hospital can lead to death, especially when handling patients with critical conditions. The other nurse was concerned with the wife who accompanied the husband instead of focusing on the needs. To console her, words of encouragement could be used instead of harsh treatment. I learned that understanding a patient’s medical history is critical before undertaking a step aimed at healing. This is because some conditions are associated with past events or hereditary conditions, making them require special attention.

The nursing codes of ethics require that every healthcare giver must be well-equipped with practical communication skills. They play a role in facilitating the diagnosis process by creating a conducive environment in the hospital. Nurses must maintain eye contact and avoid the use of non-verbal cues of communication which suggest some intentions (Hwang & Chang, 2022). They should further learn how to interact with other people who accompany the patients by addressing them with respect and bearing in mind their emotions. The patient’s needs should be given first priority and care by bearing in mind their likes and dislikes.

From the above experience, the importance of being competent and assertive in my profession has been mastered appropriately. The position in my team should not act as a barrier to taking my roles. In the encounter with the patient, I was afraid to respond to the patient since my experience was insufficient. Since communication is vital, all healthcare professionals must learn how to effectively take control of any situation that occurs in the hospital, whether formal or informal. Creating a conducive environment will lead to the offering of quality services.

In the future, I will confidently respond to any emergencies by eliminating anxiety, as it can lead to worsening the situation. The interests of the patients must be given priority and action. A strong working relationship must be created with fellow workers such that if mistakes occur, they can be corrected in a friendly manner. Compassion is a crucial trait and nurses should consider the patient’s situation and handle it with caution. I will ensure the other nurses learn to be mindful of events that trigger fear and offer guidance and counseling to the target team.

Ezezika, O., & Johnston, N. (2022). Develop and implement a reflective writing assignment for undergraduate students in a large public health biology course . Pedagogy in Health Promotion , 237337992110699. Web.

Hwang, G.-J., & Chang, C.-Y. (2022). A reflective cycle-based virtual reality approach to promoting students’ learning achievement, sense of presence, and higher-order thinking in professional training . Interactive Learning Environments . 1–16. Web.

James, A. Hn., Watkins, D., & Carrier, J. (2022). Perceptions and experiences of leadership in undergraduate nurse education: A narrative inquiry . Nurse Education Today , 111 , 105313. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2024, February 3). Gibbs' Reflective Cycle in Healthcare.

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