exclusive purposes: to promote learning … and to provide a window into teachers’ thinking (Davis, 2006, p. 284).
According to Harford and MacRuairc (2008), “the power of video as a tool for enhancing student teachers’ reflective and analytical powers is now widely acknowledged” (p. 1884). Following a four-month study, Halter (2006) found video recording even more influential than written forms of practical reflection. He found that, “the focus of reflection increased in sophistication when students used videos of their own teaching as objects of self-reflection” (p. xii). He then states that “video analysis is a powerful tool to support the growth of pre-service teachers in making the critical connections between pedagogy and actual classroom interactions as evidence supporting their pedagogy decisions” (p. xii). Harford and MacRuairc (2008) find video recording effective in that it “allows for a series of ‘concrete examples’ of the teaching and learning environment which enables teachers to view a wider spectrum of practice and empowers them to recognize and critically evaluate good practice (Loughran, 2002, p. 40)” (p. 1884).
Using Surveys and Questionnaires
Another technique to get classroom feedback to reflect upon practically is conducting surveys in the classroom or asking students to fill out questionnaires on different aspects of teaching. Richards and Lockhart (1996) believe that “surveys and questionnaires are useful ways of gathering information about affective dimensions of teaching and learning, such as beliefs, attitudes, motivation, and preferences” (p. 10).
Gillham (2000), too, considers using questionnaires an effective way of gathering information from the classroom because of their ease of handling, respondents’ anonymity, and lack of bias.
As Deng and Yuen (2009) put it, web-blogs are “versatile tools that, at least potentially, allow for improvements in various skills ranging from individual reflection (e.g., Stiler & Philleo, 2003) to collaborative learning” (p. 95). They state the web-blogs’ availability and ease of use as their advantages. Following her research, Perschbach (2006) concluded
the uniqueness of blogging technology effectively recorded critical thinking and furthermore provided the learner with a personal voice that created a sense of ownership of ideas, active participation and empowerment in personal learning, and a contribution to the collaborative learning effort. (p. iii)
Deng and Yuen (2009) compare web-blogs with more frequently used written journals and conclude that journals lack the added advantage of web-blogs: “Unlike private journals kept to oneself or shared with teachers only, blogs can be a social medium that allows for dialogue among bloggers and their peers, outside experts, or even a global audience (Farmer, 2004)” (p. 95).
According to Reed and Bergemann (1995), “one important technique for learning about effective teaching is to observe effective teachers at work in their classrooms” (p. 1). It is believed that if classroom observation is handled skillfully, both the observer and the person being observed can benefit and that the professional skills of both people will enhance (Kohut, Burnap, & Yon, 2007; Wragg, 1994). This technique, which is called peer observation, is often cited as one of the important means of reflection (Cosh, 1998). Following an extensive study, Ivasson-Jansson and Gu (2006) found that the exercise of observation brings about a kind of reflection in which “past knowledge and experiences are recalled in order to frame and explain the new phenomenon” (p. 10). Additionally, they noticed that because of involvement in observation, the teachers extended their knowledge in a more interactive way. In the process, teachers developed “a heightened sense of their own professional work and develop[ed] questions and ideas about pedagogical and educational issues” (Ivasson-Jansson & Gu, 2006, p. 10). They argued that observation was an important tool for teachers’ learning and their professional development. “It provides the opportunity for teachers to focus their attention on matters of priority and to feel empowered in developing their own professional practice and identity” (Ivasson-Jansson & Gu, 2006, p. 10).
126.96.36.199.2 Cognitive Reflection
Akbari et al. (2010) reports the cognitive element to be
concerned with teachers’ attempts aimed at professional development. Conducting small-scale classroom research projects (action research), attending conferences and workshops related to one’s field of study, and reading the professional literature are among the behaviors included in this domain (Farrell, 2004; Richards & Farrell, 2005). (p. 214)
Colton and Sparks-Langer (1993) believe that “teachers learn from their experiences by constructing mental representations of their personal meanings which then are stored in memory to be revised as experience dictates” (pp. 45-6). This is because all actions and reactions with the world around us, conventions, customs and ideas result in the personal acquisition of knowledge and adaptive abilities. Schon (1987; 1983) too, despite his constant emphasis on professionals’ self-theorizing, found professional development through education inevitable. The importance of action research in order to achieve professional development has been highlighted in the works of Akbari (2007), El-Dib (2007), Richards & Lockhart (1996), and Hatton and Smith (1995).
188.8.131.52.3 Affective Reflection
According to Akbari et al. (2010) affective reflection
includes those items that deal with a teacher’s reflecting on his/her students, how they are learning and how learners respond or behave emotionally in their classes. According to Zeichner and Liston (1996), this tendency “emphasizes reflection about students, their cultural and linguistic backgrounds, thinking and understandings, their interests, and their developmental readiness for particular tasks” (p. 57). This element concentrates also on teachers’ reflecting on their students emotional responses in their classes (Hillier, 2005; Pacheco, 2005; Pollard et al. 2006; Richards and Farrell, 2005; Richards and Lockhart, 1994). (p. 214)
According to Zeichner and Liston (1996), in the developmentalist tradition of reflective practice, emphasis is on reflection about students, their cultural background, linguistic history, thoughts and understandings, their interests, and their preparedness for specific tasks. It is believed that natural growth of the learner provides foundation for deciding what and how students should be taught. One of the most important tasks of the teachers should be “observation and study of students either directly by the teacher, or from reflection on literature based on such studies” (Zeichner & Liston, 1996, p. 58).
In the same tradition, Colton and Sparks-Langer (1993) believe that a reflective teacher “must consider the students being taught – their cultural backgrounds, development, and learning styles, among other things. Without this understanding, the teacher will not be able to decide on which pedagogical approach to use” (p. 47). Van Manen (1995), too, thinks that the concept of teacher presumes that he or she is provoked by a caring enthusiasm in the development of students. “In other words, teaching is not only governed by principles of effectiveness, but also by special normative, ethical, or affective considerations” (p. 33).
184.108.40.206.4 Meta-Cognitive Reflection
On the meta-cognitive dimension of his proposed model for reflection, Akbari et al. (2010) notes
this component deals with teachers and their reflections on their own beliefs and personality, the way they define their practice, their own emotional make up, etc. (Hillier, 2005; Stanley, 1998; Pollard et al. 2006; Richards and Lockhart, 1994; Zeichner and Liston, 1996). As Akbari (2007) states, “Teachers’ personality, and more specifically their affective make up, can influence their tendency to get involved in reflection and will affect their reaction to their own image resulting from reflection”. (p. 214)
Halliday (1998) sees reflective practice as suggesting that “teaching is a moral activity in which it is important to constantly reflect upon the type of people that teachers are, the kinds of theories and beliefs that they hold and the constraints that are place [sic. placed] upon them” (p. 598). According to Colton and Sparks-Langer (1993), one category of professional knowledge for reflective teachers is personal and social values. They believe that such values are created by one’s family, personal experience, and reading. In their words, “these personal and social value systems have a profound influence on teachers’ day-to-day teaching decisions” (p. 47). Pollard and Triggs (1997), too, find the impact of a reflective teacher’s own value commitments of great importance.
220.127.116.11.5 Critical Reflection
According to Akbari et al. (2010),
This component consists of items that refer to the socio-political aspects of pedagogy and reflections upon those. Items falling in this category deal with teachers’ reflecting on the political significance of their practice and introducing topics related to race, gender and social class, [and] exploring ways for student empowerment (Bartlett ,1997; Day, 1993; Jay and Johnson, 2002; Zeichner & Liston, 1996). (p. 214)
Critical reflection is the most debated aspect of reflection in the literature. Stanley (1998) finds dealing with “political issues, such as gender bias, racism, and power inequalities” (p. 588) an indispensible part of a reflective teacher’s job. Bartlett (1997) sees reflection as comprised of two levels. While at the individual level it involves the subjective meaning of classroom events in the teacher’s head, at the societal level reflection is an investigation of the relationships “between