Reflective practice is widely adopted across the field of experience-based learning subjects in higher education, including practicums, work-integrated learning, internships, service learning and community participation. This adoption of reflective practice implies that it supports student learning through experience. When reviewing the evidence for the role of reflection for learning, it became evident that not only was there no clear agreement about the definition of reflection, there has been little theoretical development in this area. An integrated participatory action research and ecological approach was adopted to build a theory about the ecology of reflection for learning through experience. Through this process the assumptions, or truths that are taken for granted, that underpin the new theory were declared and substantiated. Key concepts and the principle tenets of the theory were then identified and defined, leading to an overview of the ecologies of the learner, the learning context and the experiential learning context.