Reflective learning is a brilliant tool for all trainers and therapists. It allows us to take some time to just sit and think. In the past this has been seen as time wasting or being unproductive when it comes to work. Reading an article and spending some time thinking about it, how it may apply to you, how your working practices may change as a result of it, was never given the recognition it deserves.... until now.😀
The summer edition of The Sports and Exercise Scientist , the #BASES members magazine lead with an article all about the importance of reflective learning in it's summer 2019 issue. Showing this is very much an accepted medium for CPD within the exercise world. The CSP magazine #Frontline have a section for reflective learning in every issue. The Holistic Therapist magazine published by #FHT similarly have a section for reflective learning tasks, so it is now very much an accepted form of #CPD provision. So what is it and how do you do reflective learning? 🤔
Let's start with what it is. Well the name explains it really. Reflective learning simply means to reflect on something that you have read. So it isn't enough just to read an article and put it to one side thinking, "that was interesting". You need to sit down with a pen and paper and document your thoughts. It doesn't have to be an article, it could be a book, a case study, even a video. If it is relevant to your work and will help you become a better trainer or therapist then it is totally valid. So let's move on to the "how".
So you have an article that you think looks interesting, you have a pen and paper ready ...... what next?🧐
Step 1: Read the article, case study, book. Watch the video....
That sounds simple, I'm sure we can all manage that without too much trouble.
Step 2: Grab your pen and paper.......
Describe the content, what was it about? If you read an article what was it about? If you were thinking about a case study you have recently come across, explain the case study. If you watched a video or read a book describe what the content was.
Step 3: Evaluate.......
Explain exactly what you learn't from the activity in Step 2. Maybe you watched a video explaining what Lateral Epicondylitis was, explain that you learned what the condition is, what anatomical structures are involved, how you can assess, treat or train people with the condition.
Perhaps you read a book. Now a book is usually a large amount of information, so grab one chapter or one element that you found particularly interesting and explain what you found interesting, what did it tell you that you didn't already know.
Perhaps you discussed a case study with a colleague at work, what was the case study, what did you learn from your discussion with your colleague.
Hopefully you are getting the idea.😀
Step 4: How will you use this new knowledge...
So this step is where reflective learning becomes really useful. This is where we take it from the abstract and look at how it can directly help you in your work environment. This is completely personal to you, two people could read exactly the same article but use the information very differently, because your gym, clinic, therapy centre is completely unique, as are the clients you see and your experience to date. This is where this form of CPD is so useful because no-one is telling you how to use the information, you are working it our for yourself and therefore developing very useful clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills. Ultimately these skills are what will make you stand out from your peers.
So let's assume you read a research article, you have documented what it is about, but how will you personally use this new knowledge in your working environment. Perhaps the research article was about the use of compression tights for recovery and you have several clients completing marathons over the next few weeks. You could highlight which clients compression tights might be useful for, when you will advise them to wear them and for how long. You may choose to read around the subject a bit more and see what other studies have shown before documenting your thoughts. Bring the paper into reality.
Step 5: How will you implement this in your gym or clinic..
So you are fairly clued up on this area now, you have read or watched something on the subject, written about it, considered how it could be used in your work setting. Now it is time to think about how you can implement this. Perhaps you watched a video about runners knee. You now need to work out how you could implement what you have learn't. 🤔 If a trainer, perhaps you will change the way you teach beginner runners to strike the floor, if a therapist perhaps you will change how you test clients you suspect have this condition. Maybe you will choose to use it preventatively, screening your clients prior to starting running programs. How you choose to implement this knowledge is completely up to you.
Step 6: File it away safely....
Remember, you may be asked for proof of CPD so keep the pages in a special file or save them to your computer, but keep them safe for when you need to prove your CPD hours...😀 The best thing about this form of CPD, it is free, totally unique to you and allows you to develop your interests and expertise in any direction you could wish. What's not to love.
I hope you have found this useful, don't forget you can use this article for CPD as well, so work though the steps above and consider what you have learn't and how you can change your working practices as a result.
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