Self-reflection, also known as self-evaluation, is the process of reflecting on your experiences and thinking critically about the tools and techniques you use to improve the way you learn.

There is no one right way to self-reflect and everyone approaches the task differently. However effective reflection involves being critical and identifying gaps in your skills or knowledge.

Self-reflection is a good way to track your progress and help you to identify where you might need help or support. Some key times when reflection is helpful are:

  • After you receive feedback from your supervisor(s), peers or other staff members, such as postdocs.
  • Before you meet with your supervisor(s) so you can have an effective discussion about your progress.
  • Before and after you attend a conference, seminar or training to identify what you have learnt and how you might use your new knowledge.
  • Whenever something goes wrong or does not work as you expect, so you can assess how to solve the problem or situation.
  • When deciding to take on extra responsibilities such as part-time work or becoming involved in extra-curricular activities.
  • To analyse and decide what the next stages of your career might be.

The best way to improve your self-reflection is by practicing it.

Imperial College offers you many further opportunities for you to self-reflect to advance on your professional development. Some of these are:

Apply to the Imperial Award – scheme open to all students, encouraging self-reflection and personal development and recognising this on your College transcript. The Award is earned by reflecting upon, and writing up, the transformative impact of your activities on you. It is not about rewarding academic success or the volume of the activities you engage in.

Find out more about the Imperial Award and access the student guidance for further support.

You can also practice reflection by yourself. The Graduate School offers some courses to help you know yourself better:

There are a variety of reflective models you can use; two key models that are used widely in Higher Education are Gibb’s Reflective Cycle and Kolb’s Reflective Cycle. Both aim to provide a structure through which you can evaluate your experiences and how you can put what you have learnt into practice.

Watch a short video on Self-reflection created by the Careers Service using Kolbs reflective cycle.