A Structured Approach to Reflective Thinking


What do I want to gain from critical reflection and what approach will I take to best achieve that outcome?

Working from the key considerations listed by Cottrell(2011,p211) I have posed questions and issues for myself.


The purpose of undertaking critical reflection of my textile study/work is primarily to determine what went well and built on that outcome. I want to also understand why something did not happen as expected/hoped and what I can learn from that experience. I want to gain insights into  why I think/act in a certain way, for example questions I can ask myself are:  am I playing it too safe?; am I being experimental enough? am I pushing it further?am I allocating quality time to my textile study/work?

Type of Outcome

I need to consider in more detail how to make the best use of my reflections. To take them further not just dumping them down in my blog like journaling but to look at actions or guidelines for myself for my next/future work(I need to look through my course notes on Reflection and see how this can focus me too).


Given my review of what I have written thus far in my course on Reflection and my Tutor’s feedback I can aim to select a focus that is ‘relatively challenging’ to build on my creating and understanding. For example, I have commenced this with my time allocation to the course and the structure of my available time.

Choose a model of Reflection

Should I use a framework or is my course assessment framework a model, what will stimulate helpful reflections to achieve the outcomes I am looking for?


Should I be writing down thoughts and learnings as they occur while doing course work/textile work? Should I use the same set of questions? What works for arriving at deeper understanding? How will I draw together to gain key insights and conclusions?? Is there research I can tap into to assist in areas of practice or study that I find difficult?

I need to take consideration of what has been happening up to now and impact; why I do what I do; how I can act differently to bring about different outcomes; material I already have in my course blog; tutor feedback and resources and course material and references. I have been doing this but not in as structured a way.

Phase 1: Generating ideas and Raw Content

Cottrell(p218) talks about this aspect as the first phase which includes writing down thoughts and recording e.g. on a blog.  I think I have been doing this Phase adequately.

Phase 2: Analysis and synthesis

This is the aspect that brings more depth to my learning.  I think this is an area for improvement.  Cottrell (p218) talks of the following characteristics of Phase 2:

  • holistic – look over the experience or Project or Part as a whole.
  • distance – stand back to gain useful perspective
  • analytical – analyse reflections critically
  • synthesis – bringing varying thoughts and analyses together
  • extrapolation – work on teasing out meaning, insights and significance

Engaging in Phase 2 will assist me in understanding how to approach similar coursework/issues in the future. Questions to ask myself include: how good were my skills?how did my process of reflection help my understanding and views? how creative was I?

My Model of Reflection  

I have thought about the material I have presented above and realise it is like to a certain extent when I was in my corporate career where I employed action learning approaches to employee self development and to learnings on corporate issues (e.g.recruitment decisions what worked, what did not, and why did it not?).

I decided to adapt an action research cycle to a model of critical reflection similar to Cottrell (2011,p223) to assist me in my critical reflection for my textile course.


  1.  Acting and Experiencing – this means research gathering, collecting textile work undertaken by me  in a Studio Laboratory
  2. Reflecting – removal from the experiential situation, analysis of the previous creative experience and current current experience
  3. Integration – combining my reflections with ideas and research/other artists developed elsewhere, sifting, recombining and developing new creative approaches
  4. Review and Assessment – building on what has been learned, posing new questions, receiving tutor feedback, setting new goals
  5. Evaluating – evaluating the entire cycle in terms of its help with my development, the problems and the method

This is my first go at the Model but I will draw it up with its continuous loop and apply to my reflection and see how it works for me.  I will also write up some questions to use as prompts for the model which are relevant to my textile work.

Reference: Cottrell S, 2011, “Critical Thinking Skills”, Palgrave Macmillan

One thought on “A Structured Approach to Reflective Thinking

  1. Pingback: Assign5 Project 1 Developing Visual Research – Introduction | oceanbluetextiles

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