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Posted: April 29th, 2020

A ‘How To’ guide for using the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle in AT3

A ‘How To’ guide for using the Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle in AT3

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle is a theoretical model used by students as a framework for
reflective writing it is also a tool for you to take forward into your practice as a healthcare
professional. To complete Assessment Task 3, follow through the steps outlined in the
following pages. You will not need to use all of the provided questions.
The Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1988) has several aims some of the important ones are to enable
you to:
• challenge the assumptions and bias you may have regarding nursing and healthcare.
• explore new ideas
• evaluate effectiveness of approaches
• develop a conscience of self-improvement
• link practice and theory.
The model was created by Graham Gibbs in 1988, and it has 6 stages.
1. Description
2. Feelings
3. Evaluation
4. Analysis
5. conclusions
6. Action Plan

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource


Figure 1: ELN Limited (2020). An image of The Gibbs Reflective Cycle retrieved from:
Deciding on an experience to reflect upon
The first step of completing this assignment will be to select an experience to reflect upon.
The assignment question is:
As a Registered Nurse, there will be times when your own ideas and experiences of health
and illness may challenge your ability to practice Person Centred Care (PCC). Reflecting on
these perceptions is a skill which is crucial to implementing PCC.
Using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle as a framework, submit a reflective essay that describes
and analyses one experience of applying the concepts of PCC to the NRSG 138 tutorial
case studies. This essay should demonstrate your developing understanding of PCC.

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource
So first you will need to consider a topic. What was your initial understanding of how we
care for patients in Australia? Is stitching up a wound and sending someone home enough to
say we have “cared” for someone? Consider you initial impressions before you started
NRSG138. Now think back to a time when you have been asked to consider the two case
studies in our unit so far- Jim and Tula. Was there an aspect of exploring their stories which
stood out for you, which changed your ideas around care? THIS is the item/experience which
you will need to analyse according to the Gibbs Reflective Cycle for this assignment.

Some topic examples
As an example, some students may decide that exploring the Nurses role in relation to Tula’s
care and the impact one can have on the nurse-patient relationship as a new way of thinking
about PCC. Other students may prefer to focus on the extra considerations of a patient’s
environment and social-cultural backgrounds (both Jim & Tula’s case studies had these
considerations) in relation to their care as in the case of caring for Jim. Perhaps you didn’t
realise that considering a patient’s caring responsibilities or genetic background (as you saw
in the Jim case study) is important in providing even the most basic of care which can be
described as PCC. There are many options and you are encouraged to spend some time
to consider your chosen topic.

Using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle
This part of the cycle is not analytical or reflective it is descriptive. You are required to

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource
an outline of the event or what happened. For this assessment task you will be describing the
learning you participated in across the unit which involved learning the principles of PCC and
how they relate to the two case studies presented so far (Tula or Jim, pick ONE element from
the case study such as a change in understanding once you applied the RLT model of Nursing
socio-cultural factors of health to Jim’s story).
Remember: Be specific relevant and concise a good description is the basis for the rest of the
reflection, so it needs to be crafted well. Does the reader know what happened from your

This part of the cycle involves connecting with why you responded the way you did, and the
following are a few cues to help you identify this. Answer those that you think are relevant to
• How did I feel and what did I expect, anticipate or think about PCC before starting NRSG
• How did I feel and what did I think when I was applying my new knowledge to the case
• Was there a change or a shift in my feelings at some point when exploring the case studies?
• How did I feel after my understanding changed?
Remember: This is also a descriptive section and involves your personal feelings emotions
and views; we expect to see the word ‘I’ here.

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource

Hint: Want to know more about writing in first person, and writing
reflectively? See the Academic Skills Unit guide

Answer any of the following cues that you think are relevant to your learning experience in
NRSG138. You may use references to support your reflection. Choose just one or two
issues. Then you can move on to develop some in-depth critical analysis in the next section.
• What part of the learning experience worked well for me?
• What did not work as well as I expected?
• What difficulties did I have (if any)?
• Which concepts did I grasp easily?
• Links between the case study and PCC should be evident here (references might be
appropriate here)
Remember: This part identifies positive and negative perceptions about the learning
experiences. If there are lots of things you want to say prioritise the most important ones, or
those that best represent your experience.

In the analysis part you are seeking to make sense of the events see how they integrate
together – to critically analyse what was going on and consider what were the advantages of
learning these concepts? It also balances the experience from the tutorials against what the
literature says is correct or more appropriate in relation to PCC.

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource
Consider the following and select those that are relevant to your topic of choice:
• What were the aspects that did not go so well and why were they difficult?
• What aspects went well and why were they effective in building your learning?
• Consider other learning experiences and compare earlier learning experiences to this one.
• What improvements does the literature suggest?
• Can you challenge any assumptions about PCC now that you know more?
• What themes seem to be emerging from your analysis?
• From the literature- were people’s experiences similar to or different from yours, and in
what ways? You must use literature to support your analysis. How do ideas from the
literature compare with your experience?
• Make use of knowledge/ideas from outside your experience to develop and inform your
• Explain the extent to which new skills or knowledge will enable them to deal with the
experience (this may also fit into the conclusion).
Remember: This section is analytical it is focused on explaining the reasons as to why things
happened. In this section you identify what were the contributing factors to making this a
good or bad experience.

HINT: Have a look at the Academic Skills Unit resource on reflective
writing, particularly the tab titled “Incorporating ideas from the
evidence”. It shows some examples of how to continue to write in first
person whilst using evidence to support your ideas.

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource

Look back on your learning experience and consider the following questions
• What were my learnings from reflecting upon this experience (positive and/or negative)?
• Did the experiences fill any learning gaps or enable me to identify learning needs and
areas of focus? Perhaps link your new learning to PCC.
• Was I able to identify personal strengths and/or weaknesses from these learning
• What have you learnt about: yourself, your self-awareness, your practice?
• What have you learnt that you would recommend for practice in general (i.e. social,
political, cultural, ethical issues)?
Remember: The conclusion pulls it all together and summarizes what you have learnt and
what your desired outcome is. This is a summary – Please be specific and concise. Avoid
generalized statements such as” I don’t know enough yet

Action Plan
Ask yourself the following questions to help build a plan
• What do I need to do so that I can implement person centered care in the future?
• Even if the learning was great what can I do to make my learning more efficient?
• What are the priorities for my learning?
• What am I specifically going to do to make these things happen: what activities will I

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource
what resources will I examine? who will I speak to?
Remember: This part of the reflection is focused upon a plan of action it is not descriptive or
analytical but states the actions required to achieve your desired outcome

Hint: Check the Action plan component of the AT3 rubric in the Unit
Outline on the Overview tab of LEO. Have you addressed each item?

If you need to read more about reflection look at the resources on the last page of the
‘Reflective Writing’ lesson on the Academic Skills Unit page.

NRSG138 2020 AT3 Resource


Boud, Keogh & Walker, (2013). Promoting reflection in learning: A model. In Boud, Keogh
& Walker(Eds.) Reflection: Turning experience into learning. London: Kogan Page, pp.18-

ELN Limited. (2020). Figure 1: An image of The Gibbs Reflective Cycle. Retrieved

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL paper, 52, 1-27.
Gibbs G (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further
Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford. Oxford Brookes University.

Taylor, B. (2010). Reflective practice for healthcare professionals: a practical guide.
McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

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