Is there anything new to say about reflective practice?

Well, the short answer is ‘yes! A new SEDA Special, explores the state of play surrounding reflective practice.  While the literature and anecdotal evidence suggests that experiential learning still shapes our practice as educators, we must ask ourselves ‘How?’, ‘Why?’ and ‘What can we do differently?’

Models such as those of Schȯn and Gibbs have served us well in the past, we wonder if they retain currency in a time of increased pressure within the context of Higher Education.  It is evident that no longer is reflective practice solely in the domain of those in the caring professions or for discrete groups such as those who form action learning sets on MBA and leadership courses. It has crossed over into the mainstream in many ways.  We consider the extent to which teaching in higher education is moving in a similar direction with teaching qualifications and recognition awards begin dependent on providing tangible examples of reflective practice.  We firmly believe that the process of reflective practice increases opportunities, not just for improving the learning of those who teach, but the learning of those they teach.

We acknowledge that it is increasingly rare that there is allocated time and space to engage in active reflective practice.  Therefore, it is critically important to identify the various alternatives available in developing professional practice and reflecting on same.  A range of practical tools for different situations and purposes, which have been developed in tandem with theoretical approaches, are outlined.  The intention is to make things clear and accessible as we appreciate that time can be a constraining factor.  With this in mind, a comprehensive overview of useful key texts, which recognizes that reflective practice has its own scholarship and contested areas, is provided with the annotated bibliography encompassing a range of views.

This Special provides chapters on the following crucial considerations in what we can say about reflective practice:

  • Providing a platform for our reflections through a variety of practical and relevant approaches;
  • Realising continuing professional development opportunities as avenues to engage in reflective practice;
  • Engaging in Peer Supported Review (P-SR) as a collaborative, reflective tool;
  • Exploring the role of reflective writing in capturing what an individual can do, with a series of questions, which allow for interpretation and analysis of individual approaches to teaching and learning.

In summary, reflective practice is not easy, but an activity, if done frequently and well, that can prove to be satisfying, worthwhile and validating, preserving our integrity as educators.  Who wouldn’t want that?

You can purchase SEDA Special 42, Reflective Practice here.

Dr. Carole L. Davis PFHEA, Associate Professor, Head of Academic Development, Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering, Solent University

Dr. Mary Fitzpatrick, Acting Dean, Teaching and Learning, Regional Teaching and Learning Advocate, Centre for Teaching and Learning, University of Limerick

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