Discuss the importance of reflective learning and describe how a reflective approach to feedback and feedforward can inform and improve future formative and summative assessed work.



The capacity to think back on the activities of a certain person to get involved in the procedure of continual learning can be referred to as reflective practice. The most significant feature of reflective learning is that it is the procedure through which a person can learn about himself (Farrell, 2017). A professional development plan or PDP is one that is based on the reflective learning theory and this puts emphasis on the learning gained from the experiences that can be constantly upgraded through recording procedures and thinking about the different experiences that people have throughout their lifetime. This essay will focus on the relevant model of reflection that is Kolb’s reflective model, a description of the reflective approach to allow feed-forward and feedback mechanism and the process of improvement of the formative and summative assessment of the students. Reflective learning will be the centre of the essay.

Reflection and reflective approach to learning

Reflective learning is an important aspect of the students as this will aid in the entire growth of the people. Every person is capable of reflecting from one time to the other regarding the things that are happening in their daily life. Therefore, the usage of different types of reflective models to understand the pace of learning is very important for people. The reflective model that can be used to understand the reflective way of learning is Kolb’s reflective cycle. According to the Kolb’s learning cycle, learning can be defined as the process where the creation of knowledge occurs when the experiences are transformed accordingly (Mcleod, 2022). There are four stages involved in the Kolb learning cycle. The four stages are – concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experimentation. The prime basis of this cycle is the own experience of the people that is reviewed and then analysed. This review process and analysis will help every person to decipher the areas of learning.

Concrete experience: A person is psychologically as well as physically experiencing a certain situation and this makes him realise the need to reflect on the experiences to keep learning new things. This new form of learning can also help the person to enhance the skills and practices that are existing. This is the stage when a person can note down the specific situation and then describe the things that are seen, felt and thought about by him.

Reflective observation: This is the second stage where the people should reflect deeply on the experience that is written down by them. This is the stage where the reflection is needed to be done by the people more critically (Richard et al. 2019). There should be questions regarding things that succeeded and things that failed in a particular situation. People should also analyse the behaviour shown in a particular situation.

Abstract conceptualisation: This stage can include analysing and then learning the different types of methods suitable for a situation. The person can think of various other strategies to handle an incident. Along with this, an individual is also open to consulting with other people in this stage to decipher appropriately and think of better ideas.

Active experimentation: The last stage can be used in reflective learning as this will allow the person to take all the reflections, thoughts regarding improvements, and every theory and implement them into actions and try out modern tactics.

Feedback and feedforward

Feedback is the process of listening to various information provided by the students and the evaluating them by taking time to come up with a better solution that will improve the abilities of the students or people. Feedback is mainly provided to any student so that he can gauge their position according to their goals of learning. Feedback is provided along with the marks and grade so that the students can identify the gaps as well as errors and can also decipher the grades that are achieved by them. Feedback is capable of recognising the various qualities in the work of students in any assignment (Ellis and Loughland, 2017). The feedforward system is the one where the students are provided with appropriate guidance regarding the improvements needed to be done in the future assignments. The Kolb’s reflective cycle can be appointed for the reflection on feedback and feedforward. When the implementation of Kolb’s reflective cycle happens in case of feedback and feedforward, then the people or students should experience the feedback from professors. The feedback can be seen by the students and then noted down accordingly in the phase “concrete experience”. This needs the students to describe and note down the feedback and feedforward provided on the assessment. Feedback is one of the integral parts of the reflective cycle. In the concrete experience stage, the students can go through the feedback and then note down the words provided by the instructors. This is the first stage of the learning cycle that will help the students to psychologically and physically experience the feedback system provided by the tutor or supervisor.

Reflective observation is the second stage where a learner is able to consider the feedback that is provided by the professor. The student or any person starts to consider the feedback critically and then asks questions to their own regarding the different types of ways of improvement (Paterson et al. 2020). The abstract conceptualisation is the phase where the learner is taking all the ownership to decide on the method to be implemented in order to improve the skills. This is the time when the feedforward system and the guidance from professors are taken into consideration. Lastly, the active experimentation is the phase where the students start taking actions based on their thoughts of the feedback and the strategies made to enhance the quality of the performances. Modern knowledge is utilised in the decision-making process.

Formative and summative assessments

Assessments of the students can be conducted in various forms. These forms can be examinations, coursework, and tests between the semesters. However, there are two most important types of assessments and these are – formative assessment and summative assessment.  Summative assessment is sometimes referred to as the assessment of learning and the formative assessment can also be referred to as the assessment for learning. Formative assessment is the one that assists the students or the learners to make progress and then utilise all the strategies of feedback that is designed to support the development of the students. Therefore feedbacks can be used as the form of instructions that are attached to the assessment so that the students can utilise them to develop. The reflective learning approach can be used by the students in order to decipher the different instructions that are produced through the formative feedbacks. The feedback is in the form of commentary on the areas that are the strength of the assessment along with the areas for the improvement. The summative assessments are the assessments that are received by the students (Dolin et al. 2018). Reflective learning of the students is only possible when there is a level of feedback that is provided by the supervisors. The feedback will also help the students to understand the various areas that they are supposed to improve to excel in the summative assessment. Summative assessments are the ones that are provided to the students with a range of objectives. Formative assessments help the learners to have a complete evidence of the progress in the learning. There are different benefits that are brought by reflection and feedback when they are integrated to the formative and summative assessment. When the feedbacks are provided through the formative assessment to the students, then they are aware of the learning goals and are in track to achieve the target of the work (Yuksel and Gunduz. 2017). Along with this, the formative feedback also helps the teachers to set the assessments in a way by considering the needs of the students. This is the way in which the reflective learning of the students can be vigorous. When there is reflective approach to feedback and the feedforward, then the students are motivated as well as engaged in the formative and summative assessments. The students are also able to decipher different ways in which they can enhance their learning and the completing the assessments accordingly.


This essay will be concluded by mentioning that reflective learning is one of the most helpful forms of learning for the students. The Kolb’s learning cycle defines learning as the process by which knowledge is created once experiences have been appropriately converted. This cycle has four stages: active experimentation, reflective observation, concrete experience, and abstract conceptualisation. Along with the marks and grade, feedback is given to students so they may understand their results and spot any faults or gaps in their work. Feedback has the ability to recognise the many features in students’ work on any assignment. The feedforward system is the one where the students are given the right advice on the changes that must be made in the upcoming assignments. Reflective learning is also helpful in the formative and summative assessments and this allows the learners to complete their learning process successfully.


Dolin, J., Black, P., Harlen, W. and Tiberghien, A., 2018. Exploring relations between formative and summative assessment. In Transforming assessment (pp. 53-80). Springer, Cham.

Ellis, N.J. and Loughland, T., 2017. ‘Where to next?’Examining feedback received by teacher education students. Issues in Educational Research27(1), pp.51-63.

Farrell, T.S., 2017. Research on reflective practice in TESOL. Routledge.

Mcleod, S., 2022. Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle. [online] Simplypsychology.org. Available at: <https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html> [Accessed 1 August 2022].

Paterson, C., Paterson, N., Jackson, W. and Work, F., 2020. What are students’ needs and preferences for academic feedback in higher education? A systematic review. Nurse Education Today85, p.104236.

Richard, A., Gagnon, M. and Careau, E., 2019. Using reflective practice in interprofessional education and practice: a realist review of its characteristics and effectiveness. Journal of interprofessional care33(5), pp.424-436.

Yüksel, H.S. and Gündüz, N., 2017. Formative and summative assessment in higher education: Opinions and practices of instructors. European Journal of Education Studies.


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