‘One size does not fit all’: understanding the situated nature of reflective practices

Price, Heather and Deveci, Yeşim (2022). ‘One size does not fit all’: understanding the situated nature of reflective practices. Journal of Social Work Practice, 36(2) pp. 227–240.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02650533.2022.2058920


This paper revisits Donald Schön’s concepts of ‘reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-on-action’ to argue that reflective practice occurs in the moment-by-moment processes of trial-and-error learning that occur in everyday practice. Following Schön, we highlight the context-, task- and conceptually specific nature of reflective and reflexive processes and the need for practitioners to be able to interrogate these. The paper illustrates ‘reflection-in-action’ and ‘reflection-on-action’ by looking closely at two examples of practice-near research and opening these up for questioning. Price brings research material of practitioners reflecting at the Mulberry Bush, a children’s home and specialist school. Deveci discusses reflexive processes occurring during professional doctoral research with undocumented youth. We consider the complex relationship between trauma and power, illustrated by both research examples. In concluding we suggest that reflective practice provision needs to be part of a dialogue in situ, rather than ‘bolted on’ within ‘one-size-fits-all’ interventions in a way that devalues on-the-job reflection.

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