The four F's of active reviewing
The four F’s of reviewing will help you to review an experience and plan for the future by moving through four levels: Facts, Feelings, Findings, and Future.
This framework is designed by Dr Roger Greenaway, an expert on training teachers and facilitators. By working through the four levels of this model, you will have critically examined the situation you want to review and reflect upon, while thinking about how to use what you have learned in the future.
The four F’s are:
- Facts: An objective account of what happened
- Feelings: The emotional reactions to the situation
- Findings: The concrete learning that you can take away from the situation
- Future: Structuring your learning such that you can use it in the future
Below is further information on the model – each stage is given a fuller description, guiding questions to ask yourself and an example of how this might look in a reflection.
This is just one model of reflection. Test it out and see how it works for you. If you find that only a few of the questions are helpful for you, focus on those. However, by thinking about each stage you are more likely to engage critically with your learning experience.
This model can be used to think and reflect on a situation and can help to structure written reflections. The model is easy to remember and goes over the main aspects of what is helpful to consider when reviewing an experience.
In the original model there is little to no emphasis on thoughts you had during the event. This might work well for you. However, to get the most out of the reflection you might want to revisit the thoughts you had at the time. If you choose to include them, they will fit best in either Facts or Feelings. Both Findings and Future will include current and more analytical thinking about the event looking back. Give the model a try and see what works for you.
For each of the sections a number of helpful questions are outlined below. You don’t have to answer all of them, but they can guide you about what sort of things make sense to include in that section. You might have other prompts that work better for you.
The first F represents hard facts. Here you can examine the sequence of events and key moments. If you are working through the model with other people, it can be interesting to see if you agree on the facts. Be wary that facts do not turn into opinions, for example ‘Then X did the wrong thing’, rather say ‘X did this and it had this effect’.
- Make a short news report covering: What? Who? Where? When? [Save Why? and How? for 'Findings'.]
- Did anything unexpected happen? Any surprises?
- Did anything very predictable happen?
- What was most memorable/different/interesting?
- What were the turning points or critical moments?
- What happened next? What happened just before?
- What most influenced your attitude and behaviour?
- What didn't happen that you thought/hoped would happen?
Examples of 'Facts'
|A customer came into work today around 4pm and I was alone as my manager was on her break. The customer was complaining about an item she bought, which had broken before the warranty ran out. The customer was quite loud and yelled at me. Even though I haven’t done any returns before, I have seen how it’s done. I spoke calmly to the customer and said I would deal with it. And I did!||
When working at the restaurant last night it got really busy, and I was waiting on five big tables. While taking orders I thought I could remember them all in my head, because I usually can do that when I’m less busy. Unexpectedly, I forgot the drinks that one table ordered and I only realised it when they called me over 20 minutes later to remind me. I decided to give the table the drinks for free, which my boss was not happy with
Here is where you can describe the feelings in the situation. Feelings can guide you to fully understanding the situation and so your learning is better grounded in the experience.
It is possible to start accidently evaluating and judging in this section, however try to stay with your feelings. Be cautious that you do not use ‘felt’ as a judgement, for example ‘I felt they were wrong’, or ‘my feeling was that it was a good choice’. The latter can be rewritten as ‘I felt confident while making the choice.
- What are some of the feelings you experienced?
- At what point did you feel most or least involved?
- What other feelings where present in the situation?
- At what points were you most aware of controlling/expressing your feelings?
- What were your personal highs and lows?
Examples of 'Feelings'
I was actually a little bit scared when the customer was clearly angry and started yelling. I’m new and I felt uneasy as I didn’t know what to do. I really tried to hold back my reaction, because my natural response would have been to become angry and yell at the customer. But I held back and managed to solve the problem. That made me really proud. I didn’t know I could do it and then I rose to the challenge and did it.
I was really angry with myself. I don’t usually forget things. I was also embarrassed when the guests called me out on forgetting the drinks. They seemed quite hesitant to remind me, and it seemed they were uncomfortable reminding me which made me feel guilty. I offered them the drinks for free to make me feel less guilty and it helped.
Here you can start investigating and interpreting the situation to find meaning and make judgements. The main questions are ‘how’ and ‘why’.
- Why … did or didn’t it work? …did you take on that role? …did you do what you did? …did you not do something else? etc.
- How … did your feelings influence what you said and did? …did you get the outcome that happened? etc.
- Were there any missed opportunities or regrets?
- What would you like to have done differently / more of / less of?
- What was most / least valuable?
- Was there any feedback / appraisal?
- What have you found out?
Examples of 'Findings'
I think the main reason it worked so well was because I didn’t become angry with the customer. I almost did, but I remembered to take a deep breath first. This gave me time to think before responding. Moreover it allowed me to think through the steps of doing a return. Focusing on my breath really helped. I’m finding it extremely empowering that I now know I can remain calm in a stressful situation like this.
I think the reason why I forgot the order was because I relied on habit more than on what was needed in the situation. I have always felt proud that I didn’t need to take notes, but in reality there is nothing wrong with that. I regret that I didn’t know that before. My manager also told me just to use a notepad. I have learned that relying too much on habit can cause negative emotions and consequences for me and others.
Here you take your findings and consider how to implement them in the future.
- How do you imagine using what you have learned?
- What has already changed?
- What choices do you have?
- How does it look to use the findings?
- What plan can you make for the future?
Examples of 'Future'
I think there are two things I can take away from this. For one, I can keep this as an example that I can do things that I’m not certain about. This will give me confidence in new situations. Secondly, taking a deep breath gave me time to think before acting. I will practise this when I get stressed. For instance this may be when I am fighting with my partner. Maybe taking a breath will make me less likely to yell. I want to try that and see how it goes.
In the future, I will have to be much better at doing what is needed in the situation. I now know that there are situations where I cannot remember everything. Therefore, I will have to start using a notepad to take orders when we are busy. I think the first step is to have it in my apron because currently I don’t have one. To practise using it, I will then start always taking notes on Friday and Saturday evenings, whether or not there are lots of customers. Those are the nights we tend to be busy. The other nights I will base it on how many customers there are.
Roger Greenaway’s ‘The Active Reviewing Cycle’
Active Reviewing Cycle website (external webpage)