The reflective practitioner accepts uncertainty, critiques taken-for-granted structures and has a willingness to admit when they don’t have the answer.
As far as I understand it, the practice of reflection as a professional mirrors approaches to personal development and cognitive behavioural therapy. Putting pen to paper can help to clarify feelings which may have previously felt like a foggy mess, I can put the pieces together and reflect on the roots of certain behaviours and triggers. Without focusing on the end result or trying to ‘solve’ an issue, the mere process of writing can bring about insights about my personality and experiences.
I’m now being challenged to apply this self reflection to my creative practice, as part of my UX Design Masters education. This week our challenge is to reflect on our reflective practice – wild I know.
Reading pieces of Gille Bolton’s ‘The Reflective Practitioner’ improved my understanding regarding the purpose of reflection as a designer. First of all from a pedagogical standpoint; the act of learning requires a flexibility of thought and a questioning of our own beliefs & opinions. Secondly from a social perspective; It’s essential that we perceive the way in which our behaviours are culturally determined and observe the social structures that influence our ways of being so that we can design for people other than ourselves. (Bolton, Gille.2001) I wrote more on the social aspect of reflection here.
This week’s brief
is to reflect on our Critical Reflective Journal entries and progress on the course. We’re to go through our entires and classify our reflections into the following key domains:
- Dispositional: Time management, motivation, general behaviour, discipline
- Affective: Feelings, emotions, emotional awareness, self assessment
- Interpersonal: Skills required to interact with others, verbal or non-verbal communication, problem solving and decision making, assertiveness
- Cognitive: Assess strengths and weaknesses of approach to learning, identify trajectories
- Procedural: Identifying skills and where improvement is needed
I took a look through my journal as a whole and realised that I’ve been focusing a lot on recording my research, rather than critical reflection of my educational experience. Though I’ve been writing a reflective entry each week as per the course challenges, I’ve been spending more time on the research articles and they have become mixed up in my CRJ. I decided to separate my entries into a research tag and weekly reflections which are tagged by week.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two reasons as to why my journal is so research-heavy. The first being that I value well-researched and data-backed creative work, and I started off with an insecurity regarding my ability to write, present and back-up my research in a coherent way. I would like to get feedback on my articles from colleagues and professionals regarding the quality of my research writing, as this is an area I’d like to improve. The second reason is a tendency to stray away from the project brief, getting distracted by words or projects that I find interesting and thus spending too much time on said task. I believe that creating goals at the end of this challenge will help me to establish my own learning objectives, with clearer time boundaries.
Despite my forays into research writing I have sufficient reflective journal entries to analyse my reflection style and see which key domains are most dominant, and which I need to work on.
My use of the 5 reflective domains
So far my reflections have focused on identifying my strengths and weaknesses in my approaches to learning (cognitive), yet I haven’t been noticing where improvement is needed. If I’m to get the most out of self-directed study I need to start reflecting more on my direction and the goals I want to achieve (procedural). I’ve been less inclined to write about my time management & discipline, as I haven’t been so disciplined with tracking my time as I would like (dispositional).
I’m not worried about the affective, as expressing myself emotively comes rather naturally. Whereas the interpersonal is a domain that I feel is lacking, I would like to connect more with those on the course, I feel like I am doing my best to engage in the forums, and it has been inspiring to see the work of my peers. Yet I don’t feel like my own practice has been affected by social interactions thus far. I imagine that as we progress in the course we will have more opportunities to share ideas and feedback, and to make the most of the group dynamics available in remote study.
Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound
On looking over my Critical Reflective Journal I’ve been able to spot the gaps in my reflective practice, and notice that I’ve missed out some important reflections that have come up about my progress. For example – my gap in time management hasn’t allowed me to explore software such as Figma as much as I’d like. So now is my chance to set goals to drive my practice in a clear, tangible direction. According to the University of California SMART Goals are designed in a way to foster clear and mutual understanding of what constitutes expected levels of performance and successful professional development (UC.2016). I see this as a way to keep myself accountable for my own self-directed study.
My goals are as follows:
To further my understanding of UX theory and practice I will allocate 2 hours each week to reading material from the university reading list and recommended UX blogs. I will review this time allocation at the end of August to see if I can keep up and if it’s enough to cover the content.
To improve my prototyping and UI skills I will enrol on a short course with Alura or Udemy to improve my proficiency in Figma. I will complete this by mid–August, making the most of my 3 weeks in quarantine.
To improve in the interpersonal domain, I will make more effort to connect with peers outside of Canvas. I will start reflecting on how my interactions with peers affects my practice in my CRJ. I will invite my peers to connect on LinkedIn by posting my profile in Discord by the end of week 6.
To start establishing myself as a UX researcher and designer, I will set up a Medium profile and copy over my research-based articles. I will start posting on LinkedIn every other week, this can be my own content as well as content I find inspiring. For content shares I will write a caption with my option or reasoning for sharing. I will also re-write my LinkedIn profile to describe my professional profile, with help from my copywriter business partner.
BOLTON, Gillie. 2001. ‘Reflective Practice’. Sage Publishing. Available through Google Books.
UNIVERSITY of California. ‘UCOP Human Resources’. University of California [online]. Available at: https://www.ucop.edu/local-human-resources/manager-resources/performance-management-corrective-action/overview.html [accessed July 6 2021]
PARKER, Alcwyn. 2020. ‘Week 5: The Five Reflective Domains: Development Practice’. Falmouth University [online]. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/872/pages/week-5-the-five-reflective-domains?module_item_id=44826 [accessed July 6 2021]
Fig 1. Artwork by the author. 2021.