The Learning Cycle Unpacked Practice and Portfolio ZAP 101 - 104

The Learning Cycle in Stages

This module breaks down each stage in J. Kaya Prpic's Learning Cycle. Dr Juliana Prpic developed this to teach undergraduate engineering students reflective practice. It is an adaptation of a number of models used today, by its intuitive structure the reflective practitioner is guided through the six experiences/stages asking explicit questions at each stage.The purpose of breaking down the stages is to provide students with a step to step guide on how to 'write up' or reflect on a learning moment/experience, feelings, and values, and how to analysise, synthesise and put in place an action plan. We encourage you to consider a learning moment or critical incident, and then write about each stage as guided by the diagrams and instructions below.

1.1 The learning moment

The purpose of this stage is to get a full but concise description of what happened so that you understand it more clearly yourself and can describe the incident to others.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe the learning moment in sentences

1.2 Feelings

Now decide on how you felt about the experience, having an understanding of how the experience resonated with you will help you to reflect on and analyse and make sense of the experience. Some people struggle to articulate or make connection with their feelings; a lot of this is due to not having the words to communicate these feelings into meaning for you. Explore this link to increase your vocabulary of words describing on feelings.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe feelings in sentences

1.3 Values

When exploring the value of the experience ask yourself why this moment was important to you, these are often connected to your own personal values, we will be covering this in more depth in other modules.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe values in sentences
Sourced from Google Dictionary

Describe your values having experienced this event, using the questions as guidance.

1.4 Analysis

At this stage you are analysing what you think about the learning moment, helping you in making sense of what went well, what did you and others do well, what went wrong or did not turn out as expected. Break the event down into its component parts so they can be explored separately.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe the analysis in sentences

Analyse your understanding of the experience, using the questions as guidance.

1.5 Lessons Learned

This differs from the values stage in that now you have explored the issue from different angles and have a lot of information to base your judgement. This information may be attained by looking self as a learner or through undertaking some form of investigation using tools and techniques such as brainstorming or exploration of a concept.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe any insights or lessons learned in sentences

It is here you are likely to develop insight into your own and other people’s behaviour in terms of how they contribute to the outcome of the event. Remember the purpose of reflection is to learn from experience. Without detailed analysis and honest exploration that occurs during the previous stages, it is unlikely that all aspects of the experience will be taken into account and therefore valuable opportunities for learning can be missed.

What lessons did you learn from the experience?

1.6 Action Plan

During this stage you should think yourself forward into encountering the event again and to plan what you would do – would you act differently or would you act the same? You would investigate new strategies that might put in place the next time or identify gaps in dealing with future experiences. Explain what you are going to do next and justify it.

Directly from Prpic - Scroll down for tips on how to describe the action plan

Reflective Writing

Reflective writing should include both descriptions, analysis and thoughts about what you have experienced.

Unlike other academic writing, reflective writing is usually written in the first person and should definitely include your thoughts and opinions e.g. "I read the handout before the lecture. This is often recommended. I was therefore well-prepared for the lecture and understood it well. I will continue to read the handouts before the lecture".

Some Useful Language

2.1 The Learning moment

Report what you did:

2.2 Feelings

Describe how you felt:

2.3 Values

Describe what was good and bad about it:

Give reasons:

2.4 Analysis

Describe what you know about what you or other people have done. Explain why they did it and what conclusions they came to.

Compare what you did and the conclusions you came to with what they did:

2.5 Lessons Learned

Evaluate your knowledge and practice on the basis of this:

Discuss what knowledge and skills you lack:


2.6 Action Plan

Explain what you are going to do next and justify it:

Upload all of your notes from the above exercises to your portfolio in preparation for your first coaching session with a practice and portfolio tutor/coach. You are encouraged to make these appointments through the Tutor Support page at the commencement of study and then regularly throughout the course of the associate degree. By completing these exercises it provides you practice in readiness for assessment tasks that have a reflective component embedded.


This module unpacks Prpic's (2005) Reflective Learning Spiral. It has been taken entirely from Prpic (2005) but broken down for students to absorb each step in the process (in response to requests/feedback in term one, 2017). For additional resources on reflective thinking and writing we recommend you explore the links below.

For any students or teachers interested in any of Prpic's work, the following links have been included, which will take you to papers on related material.


Created with images by werner22brigitte - "highway night traffic" • storebukkebruse - "Lost in translation" • pixel2013 - "alarm clock coffee cup time of" • BMC Ecology - "Timema poppensis perfectly camouflaged on its host, Redwood Sequoia sempervirens, California." • taubinphoto - "Heart" • DreamPixer - "love heart hands" • quapan - "look downstairs into stairwell whirl" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "France" • h0lydevil - "Books"

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