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Article

Fred A.J. Korthagen and Ellen E. Nuijten

The core reflection approach aims to deepen teacher reflection and development. The approach takes teachers’ core qualities and ideals as the starting point for reflection, and links the professional and the personal in teacher development. Core reflection can also be applied to other professional groups, and to students in primary and secondary education. It is based on a model of levels of reflection, briefly named the onion model, which includes the following levels: environment, behavior, competencies, beliefs, identity, mission, and “the core,” which refers to personal strengths. The onion model helps to differentiate between behavior-oriented reflection and a deeper kind of reflection, in which attention is given to three goals: (1) building on strengths and ideals (called “the inner potential”) of the person, (2) helping the person deal with inner obstacles limiting the actualization of the inner potential, and (3) preparing the person for using their potential and dealing with obstacles autonomously. In order to reach these goals, people can be coached using specific principles, which are partly based on positive psychology: 1. Focusing on personal strengths; 2. Giving balanced attention to cognition, emotion, and motivation (thinking, feeling, and wanting); and 3. Giving attention to inner obstacles. These principles are brought together in a phase model for core reflection, with five phases: (1) describing a concrete situation; (2) reflection on the ideal, and on a core quality or qualities; (3) reflection on an obstacle; (4) using the inner potential; and (5) trying a new approach. Core reflection is being used around the world, both in teacher education programs and in schools. Several research studies into the processes and outcomes of core reflection have shown that it leads to in-depth professional development and improved behavior, in both the short and the long term. However, more research is needed, for example research in which long-term outcomes of the core reflection approach are compared to those of other approaches.

Article

Cognition refers to knowledge and associated inferential processes, ranging from elementary forms of perception to advanced forms of reasoning. Metacognition, a term used since the late 1970s, includes both knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition. Knowledge of cognition includes both general knowledge of cognition and knowledge about one’s own cognition. Regulation of cognition includes planning, monitoring, and evaluation of one’s cognitive processes and products. Metacognition is crucial to and intertwined with many aspects of cognition even in the preschool years, when children are already developing theories of mind. Much of cognitive development is the development of metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation. Educational efforts abound to teach metacognitive skills, promote metacognitive development, and/or take student metacognition into account in designing instruction. Epistemic cognition is knowledge about the fundamental nature of knowledge, especially the justification and truth of beliefs. Research on epistemic development beyond childhood shows progress from objectivist to subjectivist to rationalist conceptions of knowledge. Objectivists appeal to foundational truths that can be observed, proved, or learned from the authorities. In cases of disagreement, someone must be wrong. Subjectivists recognize that knowledge is constructed, and conclude from this that truth is entirely relative to the constructor’s subjective point of view. “Truth” in any stronger sense is deemed a myth, because we all have our own equally valid perspectives. Rationalists acknowledge the subjective construction of knowledge and the perplexities of truth but maintain that some beliefs are better justified than others and that we can make progress in understanding. Research in child development shows that children proceed through a similar sequence in constructing intuitive theories of mind, suggesting that epistemic development may be a recursive process in which people reconstruct subjectivist and rationalist insights at multiple levels. Epistemic development is generally seen as the result of self-regulated processes of reflection and coordination. Research in educational psychology has highlighted individual differences in epistemic beliefs and has shown the value of active inquiry and peer argumentation in promoting epistemic progress within and across diverse fields of study.

Article

Margaret Schmidt and Randall Everett Allsup

John Dewey’s writings on schooling are extensive, and characteristically wide-ranging: teachers are expected to think deeply about knowledge construction, how we think and learn, the purpose of curriculum in the life of the child, and the role of school and societal reform. He worked throughout his life to develop and refine his philosophy of experience, describing all learning as defined by the quality of interactions between the learner and the social and physical environment. According to Dewey, teachers have a responsibility to structure educational environments in ways that promote educative learning experiences, those that change the learner in such a way as to promote continued learning and growth. The capacity to reflect on and make meaning from one’s experiences facilitates this growth, particularly in increasing one’s problem-solving abilities. While Dewey wrote little that specifically addressed the preparation of teachers, his 1904 essay, “The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education,” makes clear that he grounds his beliefs about teachers’ learning in this same philosophy of experiential learning. Dewey argued that thoughtful reflection on previous and current educational experiences is especially important in teacher preparation; teacher educators could then guide beginners to examine and test the usefulness of the beliefs formed from those experiences. Teacher educators, therefore, have a responsibility to arrange learning environments for beginning teachers to promote sequential experiences leading to increased understanding of how children learn, “how mind answers to mind.” These experiences can then help beginning teachers grow, not as classroom technicians, but as true “students of teaching.” Dewey’s ideas remain relevant, but must also be viewed in historical context, in light of his unfailing belief in education and the scientific method as ways to promote individual responsibility and eliminate social problems. His vision of a democratic society remains a fearless amalgam of human adaptation, continuity, change, and diversity: public schools are privileged locations in a democracy for the interplay and interrogation of old and new ideas. Teacher preparation and teacher wellbeing are crucial elements; they can provide experiences to educate all children for participation in their present lives in ways that facilitate their growth as citizens able to fully participate in a democracy. Despite criticism about limitations of his work, Dewey’s ideas continue to offer much food for thought, for both research and practice in teacher education.

Article

Teacher identity is conceived in complex ways, in part because of the attention that must be paid to both the personal and the professional dimensions of teaching experience. In addition, teacher identity as a concept is closely intertwined with the notion of teacher agency, as well as with the potential for a teacher to encounter ongoing challenges in the development and adjustment of identity in diverse educational contexts. Literature on teaching from a range of areas—teacher education, preservice teaching, in-service teaching in schools, and university or higher education teaching—reflects a variety of existing approaches to teacher identity. Despite the complexity of the concept, understanding teacher identity remains of critical importance to individual educators, to institutions and to society as a whole.

Article

Sarimah Shaik-Abdullah, S. Kanageswari Suppiah Shanmugam, and Mohan Chinnappan

The quality of education in any country rests on school communities as a whole. However, the real implementers of innovations and changes in curriculum are teachers. Teachers, as practitioners, are the ones most often held accountable for successes and failures in educating schoolchildren. The way to facilitate teachers in handling challenges and keeping up with curriculum renewals is through constant support in the form of continuing professional development (CPD) by means of action research. Action research as CPD has been viewed as a critical platform for advocating change, which is the outcome of teachers’ ability and autonomy to lead in making informed decisions about their own practices. Given its usefulness, action research is found well established, vastly practiced, and widely published in Western countries. This has raised the question of the widespread use of action research as CPD in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region. Preliminary analysis reveals that in some SEA countries, such as Timor Leste, there is limited literature on action research, while in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, action research has been well documented. At the same time, there is an emerging trend in SEA countries to adopt different models of action research. In Malaysia, for instance, action research has been primarily classroom based, whereas in Indonesia, a critical and community based approach to action research seems to be prevalent. This suggests that the kinds of action research conducted in the different SEA countries may reflect variations in cultural, economic, and geographical landscapes. Given the importance of action research to teacher practitioners and school leaders, and in providing an identity to the action research approaches conducted in Southeast Asia, the historical trail of action research presents a window into the nature of CPD concerns of each country, as well as the successes and challenges of conducting action research as CPD for sustained impact.

Article

Mark Tennant

Adult learning is described as learning undertaken by adults in natural educational settings as opposed to the experimental settings often undertaken in psychological research on learning. As such, the theory and research on adult learning referred to in this article primarily draws on applied educational research reported in adult education journals. Much of this research is informed by psychological and social research and theory, and this is acknowledged in each of six adult learning themes outlined in this article. These themes are self-directed learning, experience and learning, learning styles, the development of identity in the adult years, intellectual and cognitive development, and transformative learning. While these themes focus on adult learning in a general sense, our understanding of adult learning also needs to be seen in relation to the context in question; contexts such as health, the third age, indigenous knowledge, literacy and numeracy, the environment, disability, community education, gender equity, race, and migrant and refugee education. The literature on adult learning offers very few prescriptive bridges linking research, theory, and practice. This is partly because there are competing theories posing different questions and offering opposing interpretations of research findings, but it is also because the purpose and function of education and learning is a contested field. In these circumstances the best approach for practitioners is to interrogate and improve their practice through engaging with research findings, competing models, and competing theories. In this way they are aware of the variables at play and can formulate practices that are consistent with their educational aims and purposes. The link between research, theory and practice is conceptual rather than prescriptive, with practitioners interrogating and improving their practice by engaging with the issues and the competing claims of theory and research.

Article

Some of the most complex and challenging problems that arise for educational leaders are actually “leadership dilemmas.” This type of dilemma, which must be owned by the leader, contains a strong tension between a desire to achieve the goals of the organization and simultaneously preserve positive relationships. Performance appraisal is one of the main contexts in which this dilemma arises for the leader. In most cases it is not recognized or is avoided because of its potential to create conflict and unpleasantness. Common avoidance approaches include polarizing the strands of the dilemma and attending to either an organizational demand or a relationship concern, and in such cases the problem is only partly solved and resurfaces at a later date. Because there is often a high level of anxiety experienced by both parties in staff appraisal situations, the avoidance of dilemmas is ubiquitous and poor performance is not confronted. Consequently, many significant issues that impact on student learning are not attended to effectively, and these problems persist and recur. When educational leaders are motivated to deal with these extremely difficult problems, they must engage in a learning loop that allows them to reflect on and change values that do not lead to long-term problem resolution. They must be willing to surface and confront the conflict inherent in a leadership dilemma. This involves understanding the nature of a leadership dilemma and being able to analyze the defensive theory of action that blocks learning when conflict is present. It involves knowing about and practicing an alternative theory of action that can guide efforts to be productive in addressing the problem. In order to manage leadership dilemmas, specific skills for double-loop learning, such as the Triple I approach, must be acquired and internalized so that productive conversations can occur.