Reflective practice is when the end justifies the means because the process includes identifying the end and the means. It involves critical analysis and evaluation of decision making while drawing on existing knowledge, observation, theory, and research. Plainly speaking, it involves someone regularly, and in a cyclic manner, looking at the work they do, identifying the process of the work involved, and considering how to improve and refine practice for the benefit of the people being served.
Donald Schon’s rejection of technical rationality was the impetus for his notion of reflective practice (Pitsoe, Maila, and Mago, p. 1). According to Schon, (as cited by Ferraro, 2000) reflective practice involves thoughtfully considering one’s own experiences in applying knowledge to practice while being coached by professionals in the discipline. It is the relation between action and thinking; with the added components of flexibility, adaptation, and effectiveness (McDowell, Canepa, and Ferriera, 2007).
An aspect of reflective practice that I had missed before is that it is best practiced collaboratively. Ferraro’s purports, “Reflective practice has also been defined in terms of action research” (Ferraro, 2000, para. 5). Collaborative action research is utilized by professionals who are studying their own practice and fine tuning it. When applied to teaching, the common thread of reflective practice and action research is that both are a continuous, cyclical and systematic process of reflecting, evaluating, and improving the quality of teaching practices and methodologies that are specific to the immediate environment. Thus, action research is a process that will help to develop reflective practice while providing a vehicle for collaboration (Mills, 2003).
Reflective practice, when executed during action research, leads to professional growth. This in turn will help in my coursework and in becoming an independent, reflective, doctor of education. It will empower me by compelling me to ask questions such as, “What do I do?”, “What does this mean?” “How did I come to be this way?” and “How might I do things differently?” (Wellington, 1991, p. 5) – In a nutshell, it will call me to action!
Ferraro, J. M., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and,Teacher Education. (2000). Reflective practice and professional development. ERIC digest. Retrieved from http://www.searcheric.org/digests/ed449120.html
Galea, S. (2012). Reflecting Reflective Practice. Educational Philosophy & Theory, 44(3), 245-258. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00652.x
McDowell, Ceasar, Claudia Canepa, and Sebastiao Ferriera. 11.965 Reflective Practice: An Approach for Expanding Your Learning Frontiers, January IAP 2007. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology), http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/urban-studies-and-planning/11-965-reflective-practice-an-approach-for-expanding-your-learning-frontiers-january-iap-2007 (Accessed 1 Feb, 2014). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
Mills, G.E. (2003). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Pitsoe, V., & Maila, M. (2013). Re-thinking teacher professional development through schön’s reflective practice and situated learning lenses. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 4(3), 211-218. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/1442989950?accountid=27965
Surgeonor, P. (2011). Tutor, Demonstrator & Coordinator Development at UCD. UCD Teaching and learning resources. Retrieved form www.ucd.ie/teaching.
Wellington, B. (1991). The promise of reflective practice. Educational Leadership, 48(6), January 31, 2014-4-5.