Gibbs’ Model of Reflection

The Gibbs’ (1988) reflection model can is particularly useful for helping students learn from situations that they experience regularly, particularly those that do not go as anticipated. Although this model can be easy for beginners because it has six steps to work through, it has been criticized for a lack of critical thinking and analysis or an attempt for the student to view the experience from different perspectives.




Step 1: Description: what happened?

Potential prompts:

What, where and when did this happen?

What did you do?

In what order did things occur?

What were you responsible for?

What was the result?


Step 2: Feelings: what were you thinking?

Potential prompts:

What was your initial reaction, and what does this tell you? Did your feelings change?

What were you thinking?

What did you feel during / after the situation?

What do you think about it now?

What do you think other people feel about the situation now?


Step 3: Evaluation: What was good or bad about the experience?

Potential prompts:

What went well?

What were the challenges?

Who/what was unhelpful? Why?

What did you and others do to contribute to the situation (positively or negatively)?

What needs improvement?


Step 4: Analysis: what sense can you make of the situation?

Potential prompts:

What similarities or differences are there between this experience and other experiences?

What choices did you make and what effect did they have?

What did you do well?

What did others do well?

What went wrong or did not turn out how it should have done? In what way did you or others contribute to this?


Step 5: Conclusion: what else could you have done?

Potential prompts:

What factors that affected the outcome?

What might have been some alternative actions or approaches?

What might you have done differently?

Could negative events be avoided?

Could positive events be made more effective?


Step 6: Action plan: what will you do next time?

Potential prompts:

If a similar situation/experience arose again, what would you do?

What will you do if you encounter this kind of situation again?

What will you do in the future to increase the likelihood of similar positive outcomes and minimize the likelihood of similar negative outcomes?

What do you need to learn?



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