As a dental hygiene student, one needs to be in tune both in theory and in practice. Remembering lessons and applying it to practice takes a lot of balance and this can be achieved if one takes time for self-assessment.
Reflective practice has both advantages and disadvantages. It can positively affect professional growth and development by leading to greater self-awareness, to the development of new knowledge about professional practice, and to a broader understanding of the problems that confront practitioners (Osterman 1990). However, it is a time-consuming process and it may involve personal risk because the questioning of practice requires that practitioners be open to an examination of beliefs, values, and feelings about which there may be great sensitivity (Peters 1991). Hence, it is possible that there comes greater fear of becoming introspective or being critical of oneself too much in practice. For example, when one thinks about the ethics of the course and the high standards it demands, would he or she be willing to comply? Or is he or she to make compromises?
“Reflective thinking is thinking that is aware of its own assumptions and implications as well as being conscious of the reasons and evidence that support the conclusion” (Lipman, 2003, p.26). John Dewey defined reflective thinking as “active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends” (Martin, 1995. p.167). Reid (1993) presents a motivational definition of reflective thinking as “a process of reviewing an experience of practise in order to describe, analyse, evaluate and so inform learning about practice.” Van Manen defines reflection in terms of a means of mental action that distances the person from events in the order that they may be viewed in a more objective manner (as cited in Moon, 1999). Many researchers have considered problem-solving and value conflict as aspects of reflective thinking (Totten &. Pedersen 2007).