Murphy (2001) believes that “the purposes of reflective teaching are three-fold: (1) to expand one’s understanding of the teaching-learning process; (2) to expand one’s repertoire of strategic options as a language teacher; and (3) to enhance the quality of learning opportunities one is able to provide in language classrooms (pp. 499-500). To meet these aims, Reflective teachers are primarily expected to plan, prepare and act. They should also monitor, observe and collect data on their own and the students’ intentions, actions and feelings. The result, then, should be critically analyzed and evaluated so that it can be shared and judged. Lastly, this may direct the teacher to revise his or her classroom strategies and plans before beginning the process again. This dynamic process is intended to lead through consecutive cycles, or through spiraling process, towards higher quality teaching (Pollard & Triggs, 1997). What nearly all educators agree upon is that reflection is not a set of techniques; it is an approach towards teaching (Davis, 2006; Braun & Crumpler, 2004; Pollard & Triggs, 1997). According to Bartlett (1997), “if we want to improve our teaching through reflective inquiry, we must accept that it does not involve some modification of behavior by externally imposed directions or requirements, but that it requires deliberation and analysis of our ideas about teaching as a form of action based on our changed understandings” (p. 204). In the reflective approach, the following stages have been suggested by Ross (1990; cited in Pacheco, 2005):
1. Recognizing an educational dilemma
2. Responding to a dilemma by recognizing both the similarities to other situations and special qualities of the particular situation
3. Framing and reframing the dilemma
4. Experimenting with the dilemma to discover the consequences and implications of various solutions
5. Examining the intended and unintended consequences of an implemented solution and reevaluating the solution by determining whether the consequences are desirable or not (p. 3)
2.3.2 Background of Reflective Teaching
“During the last decade or two, reflection has been one of the most widely used terms in education” (Boody, 2008). Major universities teach reflection as a basis of their teacher education programs (Valli, 1992; cited in Stanley, 1998). Reflection has become an “academic virtue and source of privileged knowledge” (Lynch, 2000; cited in Fendler, 2003, p. 16) for a variety of reasons.
For one thing, reflection “converts action that is merely appetitive, blind, and impulsive into intelligent action” (Dewey, 1933, p. 17). “Reflective teachers can look back on events, make judgments about them and alter their teaching behaviors in light of craft, research, and ethical knowledge” (Valli, 1997; cited in Farrell, 2004, p. 7). It necessitates that teachers constantly observe their values and beliefs about teaching and learning in order to assume more responsibility for what they do in the classroom (Korthagen, 1993; cited in Farrell, 2004).
What is more, reflective teachers think logically “about why they employ certain instructional strategies and how they can improve their teaching to have a positive effect on students” (Lee H.-J. , 2005, p. 699).
Finally yet importantly, reflective teachers are more motivated to grow compared to their colleagues (Colton & Sparks-Langer, 1993), as “the process of reflection feeds a constructive spiral of professional development and competence” (Pollard & Triggs, 1997, p. 4).
The theoretical foundations of reflection date back at least to the first quarter of the twentieth century to the works of John Dewey (Akbari, 2007; Griffiths, 2000; Zeichner & Liston, 1996), who, in turn, had been influenced by the “ideas of many earlier educators such as Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Solomon and Buddha (Hatton & Smith, 1995, p. 33). Some credit Socrates “as being the first educator to prize re?ective ability” (Braun & Crumpler, 2004, p. 59). Nevertheless, reflection found its way into the literature of education in general and ELT in particular as a movement after the publication of The Reflective Practitioner by Donald A. Schon (1983). Prior to Schon’s publication, however, there had been some “reflective” moves. Van Manen, for example, proposed a classification for levels of reflection in 1977 (Van Manen, 1977).
2.3.3 Models of Reflection
As it was mentioned in section 2.4.1, many educators do not agree on the definition of reflection, nor do they concur on what reflection entails. In this section, major models proposed for reflection are reviewed.
184.108.40.206 Dewey’s Reflection Model
Dewey (1933) believes that reflection is an elevated form of thinking. He considers ordinary thinking, as uncontrolled coursing of ideas through our heads or as mental pictures of something not present, of no scientific value. Such thinkers think for their enjoyment only and do not pursue any other purpose. This is not the type of thinking which differentiates man from “the lower animals” (p. 17). Reflection, on the other hand, is aim-oriented and “has the purpose of leading somewhere” (p. 5). It “involves (1) a state of doubt, hesitation, perplexity, mental difficulty, in which thinking originates, and (2) an act of searching, hunting, [and] inquiring, to find material that will resolve the doubt, settle and dispose of the perplexity” (p. 12). In other words, reflection, unlike thinking in general, is not a self-initiative process and “begins in what may fairly enough be called a forked-road situation, a situation that is ambiguous, that presents a dilemma, that proposes alternatives” (p. 14). In Dewey’s opinion, “reflection” and “problem-solving” are synonymous (Jay & Johnson, 2002).
As Griffiths (2000) puts it, Dewey
drew a clear distinction between impulsive action, routine action, and reflective action. He characterized impulsive action as that based on trial and error, and routine action as that based largely on authority and tradition; both are undertaken in a passive, largely unthinking way. In contrast, reflective action is based on ‘the active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it’ (Dewey, 1933, p. 9), and is motivated by the need to solve a particular problem. (p. 540)
According to Dewey, reflection is not comprised of a set of procedures to be employed by instructors. Instead, it is a holistic way of dealing with problems. Reflective action is also a process that entails more than commonsensical problem solving. “Reflection involves intuition, emotion, and passion and is not something that can be neatly packaged as a set of techniques for teachers to use” (Zeichner & Liston, 1996, p. 9). In Dewey’s mind, reflective teachers have three characteristics: they are open-minded, they have a sense of responsibility, and they deal with problems wholeheartedly (Farrell, 2004). Zeichner and Liston (1996) summarize Dewey’s views on unreflective teachers stating:
Teachers who are unreflective about their teaching often uncritically accept this everyday reality in their schools and concentrate their efforts on finding the most effective and efficient means to solve problems that have largely been defined for them by this collective code. These teachers often lose sight of the fact that their everyday reality is only one of many possible alternatives, a selection from a larger universe of possibilities. They often lose sight of the purposes and ends toward which they are working and become merely the agents of others. They forget that there is more than one way to frame every problem. Unreflective teachers automatically accept the view of the problem that is the commonly accepted one in a given situation. (p. 9)
220.127.116.11 Schon’s Reflection-in and -on-Action
Schon’s discussion on reflection is multifaceted, but two concepts stand out throughout his work: the introduction of the frameworks of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action on the one hand, and the dichotomy between reflection and technical rationality on the other.
18.104.22.168.1 Reflection-in-Action and -on-Action
Maybe the most outstanding contribution of Schon (1983) to the literature of reflection is the introduction of the frameworks of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. “Reflection-in-action occurs during the action present … when one can still change what one is doing and thus change the outcome” (Boody, 2008, p. 501). As Hatton and Smith (1995) put it,
Schon’s ‘reflection-in-action’ (1983; 1987) involves simultaneous reflecting and doing, implying that the professional has reached a stage of competence where she or he is able to think consciously about what is taking place and modify actions virtually instantaneously. Most other kinds of reflection involve looking back upon action some time after it has taken place. Certain models of what has been termed ‘technical reflection’ (Killen, 1989; Cruikshank, 1985) appear to be based on thinking about skills or competencies with a view to evaluating their effectiveness almost immediately after an attempt at implementation, and then making changes to behavior. (p. 34)
In reflection-in-action, teaching decisions are made through an interaction between the professional knowledge stored in long-term memory and the information perceived in the environment (Colton & Sparks-Langer, 1993). It is, therefore, a means by which one can distinguish professional from non-professional practice (Hatton & Smith, 1995). Believing that all professions should model art schools in the way they educate artists, Schon (1987) sees being able to reflect-in-action a state of art. This artistry and intuitive knowledge, he believes, is derived from professional experience. Schon “identified reflection-in-action as central to professional practice”