Unit 1: What is Reflective Teaching?

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Bwestrightarrows.png Unit Objective & Purpose

Objective: Upon reading and viewing course materials regarding the key concepts behind reflective teaching, the participant will be able to justify why reflective teaching is an important practice for instructors through reflective journaling.

The purpose of this unit is to provide you with a basic understanding of why the concept of reflective teaching is important for improving instruction.

Bwestreadit.png Introduction

Reflective practice is the process of looking at your actions in order to gain professional expertise. Professionals in many practice-based fields, including nursing, teaching, and management, use this concept to develop professional expertise. In the the field of Education, reflective practice is often called reflective teaching. This is not a new concept; rather, the origins of this idea stem from John Dewey (among others) and was first formally introduced by Donald Schön in 1983 with his seminal text, The Reflective Practitioner (Marzano, 2012). While there are many different models for becoming a reflective practitioner, the ultimate goal in any work environment is improvement. Reflecting and learning from our own actions can be challenging, but has substantial benefits for improving instruction and student learning.

Schön (1983) identifies some common areas of teaching that instructors may reflect on, which include:

  • The assumptions underlying teaching and learning
  • The appropriateness and/or effectiveness of instructional decisions
  • Improving actions in a particular course
  • Generalized knowledge or approaches to teaching

Throughout this mini-course, you will learn how reflective teaching practices can be implemented to help you improve your instruction.

Bwestplaymovie.png Video

The purpose of reflective teaching is to improve your teaching practice. In this YouTube video titled "The Reflective Teacher," Dr. Beth Tracy from SUNY Plattsburgh explains why reflective teaching is an important process for instructors to improve their practice. Many of the ideas discussed in the video will be revisited throughout the other units in this mini-course.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click on this link to view the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFBOP72eENI

After you watch this video, jot down some brief notes of concepts that Dr. Tracy mentions that you may not be familiar with. These notes can be used in this unit's reflective journaling exercise.

Bwestkeyidea.png Key Ideas in Reflective Teaching

As Dr. Tracy discusses in the video, reflective teaching is important to any teacher's growth. Aside from her remarks, there are several other ideas that are discussed in the existing literature regarding reflective teaching. These are a few key ideas that you will want to keep in mind as we move throughout this mini-course.

  • There are different types of reflection that serve different purposes. Practical reflection focuses on improving teaching and learning in a specific course or class. Strategic reflection involves paying attention to general knowledge or teaching strategies and identifying their applicabilty to different teaching contexts. Epistemic reflection involves recognizing the cognitive awareness of one’s reflective processes and what may impede reflection (McAlpine & Weston, 2000).
  • "A teacher’s pedagogical skill in the classroom can be linked with the quantity and quality of student learning. The relationship between classroom strategies and behaviors and student achievement is very straightforward. The causal relationship between reflective practices and pedagogical skill is not commonly recognized, although the interaction between these elements has been discussed in research for decades" (Marzano, 2012, p. 3).
  • Reflective teaching provides instructors an opportunity to look objectively at their actions before, during, and after instruction. It also allows instructors to take into account their emotions, experiences, and/or responses from their actions to improve their professional practice. The failure to reflect may result in a failure to improve (Paterson & Chapman, 2013).
  • There are many benefits of reflective teaching, including: identifying personal and professional strengths and areas for improvement, promoting deeper learning in students, identifying student learning needs, and acquiring new knowledge and skills necessary to become a master teacher (Davies, 2012).
  • Some challenges of reflective teaching include: discomfort in self-evaluating your teaching, it can become time consuming, instructors need to learn strategies in order to be reflective practitioners, and it can be confusing to decide which experiences to reflect upon (Davies, 2012).

Bwestpencil.png Activity: Reflective Journaling

Now that you have been introduced to the topic of reflective teaching, it's time to reflect on what you have learned. Create a document using a word processor of choice, and respond to these following questions:

  • What is a new concept or idea that you have learned about reflective teaching?
  • Do you reflect on your teaching? If so, how do you reflect on your instruction? If you have not reflected on your instruction, what might you be curious to learn about?
  • Why is reflective teaching important for instruction?
  • Do you have any questions about reflective teaching?

Optional Activity: Post to Discussion Forum

If you would like to share your questions regarding reflective teaching on the discussion forum, please do so. Other participants and/or the instructor will respond to your questions. You are also encouraged to respond to other participants' questions.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click here to go to the unit 1 discussion forum.

Bwestideas.png Further Study

If you would like to continue exploring the concept of reflective teaching, then consider completing any or all of these activities.

View the video "Teacher Reflection" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7qZhl5QTSA

  • This video describes some of the different models of reflective practice, which may influence your personal philosophy on reflective teaching.

Read this article: Amulya, J. (2004). What is reflective practice? Retrieved from http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/whatisreflectivepractice.pdf.

  • This article explores the concept of reflective practice in general terms, which helps demonstrate it's applicability in settings outside of teaching.

Read this article: Choy, S. C., & Oo, P. S. (2012). Reflective thinking and teaching practices: A precursor for incorporating critical thinking into the classroom? Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED529110.pdf.

  • This article describes a study seeking to determine teachers' critical thinking based on their reflective practice. It raises some interesting questions regarding the usefulness of teacher reflection.

Bwestevaluate.png Unit Evaluation

Now that you have completed unit 1, fill out a unit evaluation survey. The mini-course instructor will use the survey data to make improvements to the Reflective Teaching: Evaluating Your Own Instruction mini-course.

Bwestrightarrows.png Click here to evaluate Unit 1: What is Reflective Teaching?

Bwestredo.png Mini-Course Navigation

Proceed to Unit 2: Evaluating Instruction

Return to Mini-Course Homepage | Unit 3: Strategies for Self-Evaluating Instruction | Unit 4: Developing an Evaluation Plan

Bwestfolderorange.png References

Davies, S. (2012). Embracing reflective practice. Education for Primary Care, 23: 9–12.

Marzano, R. J. (2012). Becoming a reflective teacher. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

McAlpine, L., & Weston, C. B. (2000). Reflection: Issues related to improving professors' teaching and students' learning. Instructional Science, 28(5/6), 363-385.

Paterson, C., & Chapman, J. (2013). Enhancing skills of critical reflection to evidence learning in professional practice. Physical Therapy in Sport, 14(3), 133-138.

Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books.