See Itslife Library for other reading
also TRY THE BIG BIBLIOGRAPHY AT http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/trowler/bib.htm
Why reflect, and what difference does it make?
Nesbit, Leach and Foley (2004) write about 'great teachers' and argue that they:
'think strategically and act with commitment. When we watch these teachers we can see, and admire, their grasp of teaching technique. But these teachers have more than skill; they also think and act at a number of levels. Such teachers have a deep understanding of themselves and their students, and of the organisational contexts in which they work. They think 'on their feet', and take a long term view of their work
(Nesbit, Leach and Foley 2004: 74)
Schon (1983) argued that reflection could help professionals to develop their practice. Schon saw practitioners as encountering many problems, grey areas and uncertainties in their work, and used the evocative phrase 'swampy lowlands' to describe those areas. Lecturers in HE can sometimes be surrounded by 'swampy lowlands' on all sides! Schon suggested professional practice could be developed through a spiral of action and reflection, where the practitioner acts, reflects on the action and plans new action, which is informed by the results of the reflection. The spiral is continuous, and can be interrupted and incomplete, and the reflection will not always solve problems. It could even cause problems. It does however help bring uncertainties to the surface, and provide a means of looking for solutions. This is the basis of critical reflection, which forms an important part of Reflective Practice.
What is critical reflection?
'Without critical reflection, teaching will remain at best uninformed, and at worst ineffective, prejudiced and constraining' (Hillier 2002: xi). This fits nicely with the world view of this book, which recognises and embraces complexity and uncertainty, seeing them both as part of an opportunity to learn and develop. But can reflection really make a difference to what we do as teachers? Hillier (2002: 5) is confident that there are two 'main reasons' for using critical reflection:
� We can question our routine, convenient, everyday practices and ask ourselves about what really does and doesn't work.
� We can challenge some of our deeper, social and cultural thoughts, feelings and reactions, or what Hillier (2002: 7) calls our 'taken-for-granted assumptions'
What is Reflective Practice?
the University of Brighton's Centre for Teaching and Learning argues that:
'Reflection and Reflective Practice are now widely-used ideas in many fields of learning, training and professional development, including the professional preparation of teachers in higher education. One reason for this is a growing recognition within higher education of the important relationship between self-awareness and learning. In fact, they are now so widely used that it is increasingly difficult to offer a single definition that attracts consensus even within a specific context such as HE teacher development. For a start, we need to distinguish between reflection as it relates to certain aspects of our students' learning and development, and reflection as it relates to our own professional practice as university teachers.
We are concerned here with Reflective Practice in relation to our own professional practice as university teachers, rather than in relation to student learning. Of course, the two domains are by no means separate, since the main objective of the former is to facilitate the latter! To illustrate further the diversity of available definitions, here are a few ways in which reflection is used in the literature on the professional development of university teachers:
- evaluating the effectiveness of one's teaching practice
examining teaching from the perspective of the learner
conscious and self-aware deliberation on professional practice (sometimes called reflection-on-action, after Sch�n)
intuitive and implicit application of professional knowledge to specific teaching-and-learning settings (sometimes called reflection-in-action, again after Sch�n
self-awareness with respect to one's own processes of learning and development
an approach to teaching and learning support that is informed by an understanding of how learners develop knowledge and learning skills
making changes to one's professional practice in the light of experience (based on Kolb's cycle of experiential learning)
deepening one's understanding of one's role as a professional teacher in the light of experience (again based on Kolb's cycle of experiential learning)
basing professional decisions upon feedback (e.g. from learners and/or colleagues)
theorising from experience that is, constructing abstract models or analytical frames based on practical experience of teaching
It could be argued that the reflective practitioner makes use of most or all of these kinds of reflection at one time or another. Reflective practice should be viewed as an umbrella concept - a theme that permeates all of your work as a university teacher. It is a way of being, rather than a set of practical strategies or techniques an attitude of mind, a way of understanding oneself as a developing professional, and a commitment to continuous improvement and deepening knowledge.
Amulya, J. (2004) What is Reflective Practice? Center for Reflective Community Practice: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Download here
Elliott, G. Teaching in post-compulsory education: profession, occupation or reflective practice? http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/000000104.htm
Evans, Dave Reflective Learning Through Practice-Based Assignments http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/000000468.htm
History 2000 (A Bath Spa University project), has a section Developing History Teaching through Reflective Practice - a useful article including some activities to use, and part of the History 2000 project, History 2000 which was led by Dr Paul Hyland (Bath Spa University) and Dr Alan Booth (University of Nottingham). http://users.bathspa.ac.uk/history2000/newsltt4.htm
Hudson, Brian Seeking connections and searching for meaning: teaching as reflective practice http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001565.htm
Hunt, Cheryl Shadows in the swamp: dialogues in reflective practice http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/000000247.htm
The Informal Education web site has a number of items on reflective practice and reflection as follows :
reflection @ the informal education homepage
What constitutes reflection? The contributions of Dewey, Sch�n and Boud et. al. assessed.
chris argyris and double-loop learning
The work of Chris Argyris (1923-) has influenced thinking about the relationship of people and organizations, organizational learning and action research. Here we examine some key aspects of his thinking ...
david a. kolb on experiential learning
David A. Kolb's model of experiential learning can be found in many discussions of the theory and practice of adult education, informal education and lifelong learning. We set out the model.
Donald Schon (Sch�n) - learning, reflection and change
This page explores the contribution that Donald Schon (Sch�n) has made to the development of educational thinking - especially with regard to informal education and lifelong learning.
participation in learning
A page exploring participation in learning - linked to practice within informal education, adult education and community education.
Reflection and Employability (Jenny Moon) Produced as part of the Higher Education Academy's Learning and Employability series. Contains some good clear sections on reflection and reflective practice.
Reflective Practice - what's in it for you? From the UK Centre for Legal Education. A piece which starts:
'At the heart of effective learning, teaching and assessment are the teachers, and individuals engaged in information and communication technology (ICT) and library support. Advancing the expertise and knowledge base of those actively involved in legal education is essential to the development of reflective learning, both for the teachers and the students they teach.'
available at http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/reflection/you.html
How can I introduce reflective practice into my teaching? from the same centre at http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/reflection/teaching.html
Smith, Mark K (2001) Donald Schon (sch�n): learning, reflection and change http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-schon.htm
Using DATA (Adapted from Crawley 2005)
Hillier (2002), makes use of Peters' (1994) DATA process, as a means of helping critical reflection, and it is well worth trying out.
DATA is a problem-solving approach which stands for Describe; Analyze; Theorise and Act, and the stages are:
Describe the area of practice which you feel needs improvement or change.
Analyze the factors contributing to the problem area of practice. You should dig deep here, and consider the assumptions and underlying beliefs and motives involved.
Theorize possible ways to improve the practice, and suggest ways forward.
Act on your theory, by trying out the new practice to see how it works.
Think of a problematic area of your teaching. Use the DATA process to ask yourself questions about it. This can be carried out alongside formal evaluation procedures. Here are some suggestions:
Keeping to time, and covering everything you need in your teaching sessions, is a constant problem. Why?
You lecture and provide input to your students a good deal of the time of the time, but rarely use group activity. Why?
You rarely use learning technology in your teaching. Why?
Work that area of practice through the DATA process, and see how the results work out.