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Reflective Thinking in Education

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Submitted By chloemiles
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Reflective thinking, in distinction from other operations to which we apply the name of thought, involves (1) a state of doubt, hesitation, perplexity, mental difficulty, in which thinking originates, and (2) an act of searching, hunting, inquiring to find material that will resolve the doubt, settle and dispose of the perplexity’. (Dewey, 1933 p.12)

Part 1: With this in mind, consider critically and analytically the purpose and value of reflection and reflective practice, supporting your discussion with relevant reading.

Chloe Carter-Miles
6th November 2012

Contents

Main Body of Text Page 3

References Page 11

Bibliography Page 13

Appendices Page 16

List of Appendices

Appendix 1 Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning

Appendix 2 Gibbs Model of Reflection (1988)

Appendix 3 Moon’s Model of Reflection

Appendix 4 Blooms Taxonomy; original and revised

This essay will explore the purpose and value of reflective practice as a trainee teacher, and how it supports learning. Dewey (1916) defines education as ‘It is that reconstruction or reorganization of experience which adds to the meaning of experience, and which increases ability to direct the course of subsequent experience.’ The pertinent word to note in this quote is ‘experience’. Since Dewey highlighted the importance of reflective practice in the early part of the 20th Century, many other academics and practitioners have explored and written about it. Many different reflective models have been published, and they all have variations, however the one consistency among all of the models is that the process of reflection has to begin with an experience. Whilst reflective practise can be applied to all aspect of life, Dewey’s definition of education as being inherently based on experience highlights the intrinsic link between education (and by proxy, teaching) and reflective practice.

Donald Schon developed the principles of reflection in action and reflection on action. Both of these theories focus on an experience, however reflection in action is carried out dynamically at the time of or during the experience or the event, whilst reflection on action is carried out post the event or experience. Reflection in action is an essential skill, and is highly relevant to teachers as it enables planning to be adapted to suit a situation. This means that if a situation arises within the classroom that causes ‘doubt, hesitation, perplexity or mental difficulty’ Dewey (1933), a teacher has the ability to reflect in action, or in the words of Dewey (1933), ‘find material that will resolve the doubt, settle and dispose of the perplexity’. Cornford (2002) writes that forgetting is a serious flaw in many reflective paradigms, but the principle of reflection in action goes some way towards rectifying this. This is because reflections are carried out there and then as the experience occurs, and so it is not necessary to remember what and how things happened at a later date. This however does not mitigate the risk of forgetting previous reflections and not acting on or implementing any conclusions drawn.

Scohn (1933) also differentiated between technical rationality and tacit knowledge. This highlights the gap between theoretical knowledge or ‘high ground’ and the ‘swampy lowlands’ of practice. According to Schon, tacit knowledge is developed by teachers when they combine theoretical knowledge with learning from real life experiences. This learning stems from reflection, and so it is possible to see that this is the beginning of a cyclical process, which serves the purpose of using learning to ameliorate teaching.

Many academics have developed models of reflection that are cyclical. One such model was developed by David Kolb (1984) and is attached at Appendix 1. This model shows four stages, which are as follows: * concrete experience; * reflective observation; * abstract conceptualisation ; * active experimentation.
Kolb’s theory is that the reflection process can begin at any of these four stages in the cycle, but they must be followed sequentially. Like Dewey’s theory therefore, the experience is fundamental to the learning. This model allows for an experience to be reflected on, and then with the abstract conceptualisation element of the process, improved upon. The term active experimentation is apt, as it accurately summarises the element of teaching that is unpredictable. It is impossible to predict how a lesson or an experience will transpire due to the many variables. Therefore the best a teacher can do is reflect, alter or improve and try again.

One aspect of teaching and learning that is key to reflective practice is feelings. Boud and Walker (1998) question how effective and appropriate the reflective process can be without some level of emotional involvement, Is it possible to truly reflect without lending consideration to feelings? Many models of reflection do not explicitly mention feelings, however in contrast to Kolb’s model, Gibbs Model of Reflection (1988), attached at Appendix 2, does. Gibbs model comprises six stages: * description; * feelings; * evaluation; * analysis; * conclusion; * action plan.

Each of the stages is expanded upon with a question, the answer to which will assist the person reflecting in structuring their reflection in a beneficial manner. For this reason, and because of the fact that Gibbs is explicit about the importance of feelings in the reflective process, this model complies with Dewey’s theory that the reflective process perplexity and mental difficulty. Both of these are emotional responses that involve feelings.

Gibb’s model of reflection also accounts for the fact that there are occasions where the cycle of reflection comes to a natural end. The sixth stage; action plan, asks the question ‘If it arose again, what would you do?’ Gibbs (1988). That ‘If’ is key, and denotes that it is possible that on reflection, an experience needs no alterations or enhancement. This is contrary to Kolb’s model, in which the cycle is incessant.

A model of reflection that expands on this concept is that of Jennifer Moon, who defines reflective practice as ‘a set of abilities and skills, to indicate the taking of a critical stance, an orientation to problem solving or state of mind’ Moon (1999, p. 63). This definition provides a succinct summary of Dewey’s principle that reflection involves a state of doubt and mental perplexity, Dewey (1933, p. 12), and also highlights the value and of purpose of reflection in that it is an effective method of problem solving.

In the simplified model adapted from Moon (1999) attached at Appendix 3, it is possible to see that the model is linear, but has options to revisit and reflect further when necessary, and so it combines with a cyclical element. Moon’s model begins with a purpose for reflection. This is interesting, as the majority of other reflective models begin with an experience rather than a purpose, and reinforces the idea that the point of reflection is problem solving. Moon (2001, p. 4) suggests that a person’s choice of which reflective model to use depends on their reason for using it. This explains why her model begins with the purpose for reflection.

Once the purpose for reflection has been established, basic observations are then made and any additional information added. This is where the actual experience being reflected upon emanates. At this stage in the reflective process the cyclical element arises, because the model allows for the experience to be revisited and additional information to be added as many times as is necessary. This goes some way towards dispelling the concern highlighted by Cornford (2002) that the reflective process is flawed by the human tendency to forget. This is because the experience can be revisited continually during the reflective process, and it is inevitable that whilst revisiting, more elements of the experience will be recalled.

Once the experience has been sufficiently revisited, the model allows the person reflecting to stand back. This element of the process encourages an objective view of the experience and allows them to move on, in one of two directions. It is at this stage that the model offers the option of resolution; something that the purely cyclical models do not do, although Gibb’s model alludes to it through the wording of his question ‘If it arose again, what would you do?’ Gibbs (1988). If the reflective process has not provided a resolution, and so has not met the purpose of the reflection or solved the problem that has arisen, then the cycle can continue with more reflection.

A model of reflection which is purely linear is that of Bloom’ Taxonomy. This model has been revised since it’s original conception to reflect the way of thinking and learning in the twenty first century, and both models are attached at Appendix 4. The revised model comprises six stages that get progressively more challenging. It begins with remembering the information, or recalling the experience. The next stage is to understand the ideas or concepts brought about by the experience being recalled. Following this, it is necessary to apply the information in a new way. This involves interpreting what has happened, and applying it to different situations and circumstances. Analysis is the next stage in the process, where the different parts of the experience and the learning have to be compared, contrasted, questioned and appraised. The penultimate stage of the process is evaluating, where a decision is made and justified. Finally it is necessary to create, develop, design or formulate a new product or point of view.

This linear model utilises progressively higher order levels of thinking throughout, and if all stages of the process are completed successfully will result in the solution to a problem in the form of a decision and a creation. Although this model is not elucidated in a cyclical way, once the creation of a new product or point of view has been established there are no barriers to implementing this as part of a new experience, which will accordingly become knowledge, and can consequently begin the process again. Bloom’s model is also not explicit about feelings and emotions. The whole process of reflection appears to be far more clinical, highlighted by the terminology chosen; understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating. However, it is unlikely that a person will analyse and evaluate in a solely objective manner, and so the application of emotion is implicit.

It is necessary to consider the purpose and value of reflective practice. The process is time consuming and so is it necessary to reflect so formally? Cornford (2002) highlights the fact that ‘the human species is classified as Homo sapiens on the basis of the characteristic capacity to learn from past experience and engage in cognition.’ He is saying that we reflect innately on everything that we do. He also gives credit to Flavell’s argument that ‘humans do not always engage in cognition that is particularly logical or morally just’. Thereby implying that just because we can and do reflect, does not mean that it is effective.

Kagen (1990) petitions the Goldilocks Principle in that things can be too much in opposite extremes and that there is a happy medium in the middle. Kagen (1990) questions how relevant reflective thinking is on the basis that it is just too big, general and vague for use in practice. Whilst examining the negative interpretations of reflective practice, it is also important to note that there is no way to corroborate reflective thinking as an effective practice. Cornford (2002) reports on the findings of Chandler et al (1991), Wubbels and Korthagen (1990) and Cruickshank et al (1981) amongst others, and concludes that ‘There is no empirical evidence that clearly establishes that reflective teaching approaches have resulted in superior teaching. ’ Cornford (2002).

Contrary to this however, Moon (1999, p. 5) sates that ‘A person who is reflective seems to be a person who comfortably and successfully engages in the mental activity of reflection and would make decisions that are well considered’ This highlights the purpose and value of reflective practise. As Dewey (1933) stated, reflection involves ‘a state of doubt, hesitation and perplexity’. These reactions can be a result of any situation a teacher can meet in the classroom, and as Moon suggests, if a teacher can reflect, then they have the ability to make good decisions that solve problems.

In conclusion, reflection is a necessary practice. The purpose of reflection is to learn from experiences. In the classroom, no two experiences are ever the same. The children are different, the learning is different or the environment is different. Therefore a teacher must be able to take an experience, reflect upon it by understanding what happened, why it happened and how it made them feel. They must then learn from that experience and their subsequent reflections and apply that learning to other experiences. This reflection can be done dynamically, or it can be done in after the event. The value of reflection is evident when learning from previous experiences solves problems or averts situations, and eventually builds a better teacher.

1994 words

Reference List

Boud, D. and Walker, D. (1998) ‘Promoting Reflection in Professional Courses: The Challenge of Context’, Studies in Higher Education 23:2, 192.

Cornford, I. (2002) ‘Reflective teaching: empirical research findings and some implications for teacher education’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training 54:2, 219-236.

Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education. Manybooks [Online]. Available at http://manybooks.net/titles/deweyjohetext97dmedu10.html (Accessed 17 October 2012).

Dewey, J. (1933) How We Think. Lexington: D C Heath and Company.

Kagen, D. (1990) Ways of Evaluating Teacher Cognition: inferences concerning the Goldilocks Principle, Review of Educational Research, 60, pp.419-469.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Moon, J. (2001) PDP Working Paper 4: Reflection in Higher Education Learning . Available at http://www.heacadamy.ac.uk/resources/detail/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning (Accessed 19 October 2012).

Moon, J. (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer.

Scales, P. (2008) Teaching in The Lifelong Learning Sector. London: Sage.

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: how professionals think in action London: Avebury.

Bibliography

Anderson, L. and Krathwohl, D. (2000) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing. A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Bolton, G. (2005) Reflective Practice; writing and professional development. London:Sage

Boud, D. and Walker, D. (1998) ‘Promoting Reflection in Professional Courses: The Challenge of Context’, Studies in Higher Education 23:2, 192.

Cornford, I. (2002) ‘Reflective teaching: empirical research findings and some implications for teacher education’, Journal of Vocational Education and Training 54:2, 219-236.

Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education. Manybooks [Online]. Available at http://manybooks.net/titles/deweyjohetext97dmedu10.html (Accessed 17 October 2012).

Dewey, J. (1933) How We Think. Lexington: D C Heath and Company.

http://www.developmenteducationreview.com/issue11-focus2?page=show.

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/10/09

http://www.tttjournal.co.uk

http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/personal-development-planning

http://ww2.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm.

Kagen, D. (1990) Ways of Evaluating Teacher Cognition: inferences concerning the Goldilocks Principle, Review of Educational Research, 60, pp.419-469.

Kreber, C. (2005) ‘Reflection on teaching and the scholarship of teaching: Focus on science instructors’, Higher Education 50 pp. 323-359.

Kreber, C. and Castledon, H. (2009) ‘Reflection on teaching and epistemological structure: reflective and critically reflective processes in ‘pure/soft’ and ‘pure/hard’ fields’, Higher Education 57 pp. 509-531.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood cliffs: Prentice Hall.

Miettinen, R. (2000) ‘The concept of experiential learning and John Dewey’s theory of reflective thought and action.’ International Journal of Lifelong Education 19:1 pp. 54-72.

Moon, J. (2001) PDP Working Paper 4: Reflection in Higher Education Learning . Available at http://www.heacadamy.ac.uk/resources/detail/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning (Accessed 19 October 2012).

Moon, J. (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer.

Pollard, A. (2002) Readings for Reflective Teaching. London: Continuum.

Rodgers, C. (2002) ‘Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking.’ Teachers College Record 104:4 pp. 842-866.

Scales, P. (2008) Teaching in The Lifelong Learning Sector. London: Sage.

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: how professionals think in action. London: Avebury.

Taggart, G. and Wilson, A. (2005) Promoting Reflective Thinking in Teachers: 50 Action Strategies. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Tickle, L. (1994) The Induction of New Teachers. Reflective Professional Practice. New York: Cassell.

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

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...Definition AACSB: Reflective Thinking Learning Outcome: Micro-1 2) Economics is the study of: A) how to invest in the stock market. B) how society uses limited resources. C) the role of money in markets. D) how government officials decide which goods and services are produced. Answer: B Diff: 1 Topic: What Is Economics? Skill: Conceptual AACSB: Reflective Thinking Learning Outcome: Micro-1 3) Scarcity can best be defined as a situation in which: A) there are no buyers willing to purchase what sellers have produced. B) there are not enough goods to satisfy all of the buyers' demand. C) the resources we use to produce goods and services are limited. D) there is more than enough money to satisfy consumers' wants. Answer: C Diff: 1 Topic: What Is Economics? Skill: Definition AACSB: Reflective Thinking Learning Outcome: Micro-1 4) An arrangement that allows buyers and sellers to exchange things is called: A) a contract. B) a market. C) money. D) efficient. Answer: B Diff: 1 Topic: What Is Economics? Skill: Definition AACSB: Reflective Thinking Learning Outcome: Micro-1 5) Because resources are limited: A) only the very wealthy can get everything they want. B) firms will be forced out of business. C) the availability of goods will be limited but the availability of services will not. D) people must make choices. Answer: D Diff: 1 Topic: What Is Economics? Skill: Conceptual AACSB: Reflective...

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