Reflection and professional development

Pixabay (Creative Commons)
Pixabay (Creative Commons)

Books have been written about the stuttering progress of public relations towards full professional status.

Today, some would agree with Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy's phrase to describe where we are: 'professional, but never a profession'.

What's involved in being professional - even if you're sceptical of the end point of full professional status?

In the words of Heather Yaxley, author of the PR Place Guide to Reflective Practice:

'To ensure our careers are sustainable, we need to be both a thinker and a doer. Academic approaches to learning are not enough on their own when practice is constantly changing.'

This isn't about some grand professional project, this is about individuals ensuring that they can keep up and keep ahead of AI and automation. It's about sustainable professional development.

Practitioners have many advantages: curiosity and intelligence should be a given, and there's variety in the lived experience of the job.

Reflection, when allied to critical thinking and approached as part of professional development, allows us to learn from experience and become better professionals. It combines the best of the can-do approach of practitioners and the questioning approach of academics.

In this guide, Heather Yaxley proposes a professional development framework built on four pillars: theory and scholarship; critical thinking; problem solving; and reflective practice.

The guide then turns to a discussion of the key terms. What is meant by reflexive and critical thinking? How can we learn from the past in order to be better able to manage in the future.

'Reflective practitioners develop and apply higher-level thinking. This involves reasoning, hypothesising, forecasting and critiquing through use of reflexive and critical thinking techniques.'

The third section provides some models and tools to aid reflection (the section that many students on CIPR professional courses may turn to first when preparing their assignments).

The PR Place Guide to Reflective Practice is available as a free download to registered members of this site.

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About the author

Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey is editor of PR Place. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

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