The last chapter introduced a new dimension to reflection - that of depth. It is part of the common experience of reflection that is demonstrated in statements such as 'she was in deep reflection', but the idea of depth has become more important as reflective activities have been increasingly applied in formal education and professional development. There is a frequent observation that while an initial struggle of getting learners to reflect can be overcome, it can be difficult to persuade them to reflect in other than a superficial manner - which might be little different from descriptive writing (Lyons, 1999). This chapter explores what we mean by 'depth', how it might relate to the learning process and the difference in outcome between deeper and more superficial reflection.
The treatment of depth in this chapter is in two sections. The first introduces the concept of depth, relates it to the literature and describes framework for reflective writing that are structured in terms of depth. The second section of the chapter explores the nature of depth in reflection in relation to the generic view of learning described in the earlier chapters of this book.
The final section of this chapter is a summary of the content of the two chapters on reflective learning - this chapter and Chapter 6. In discussing depth in reflection below, we mainly refer to reflective writing both because it is in the context of written reflective work that the issues of depth mainly arise and because written work is tangible. It is important to recognize that reflective writing involves learning from the representation of learning (see Chapter 6).