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Demystifying Reflection: A Study of Pedagogical Strategies that Encourage Reflective Journal Writing


by Elizabeth Spalding & Angene Wilson — 2002

Reflection is a mysterious concept to many of the students who enter our graduate-level, secondary teacher education program at a large, Southeastern university. Although all already hold degrees in their subject areas and many have extensive life and work experience, few have written—or perhaps even thought—reflectively during their academic careers. The purpose of this study was to identify pedagogical strategies that helped preservice secondary teachers improve their reflective thinking via journal writing during the 1st semester of a yearlong professional program. A secondary purpose was to study the effectiveness of our own practices as teacher educators. We present brief case studies of four preservice teachers who met our criteria for growth in reflection and report their views of how and why they became more reflective over the course of the semester. We found that no single pedagogical strategy was best and that students responded differently to different strategies. These preservice teachers benefited from spending class time on defining, discussing, and viewing models of reflection. Overall, personalized feedback on their journals and their relationships with their instructors were most important in helping them grow. We must actively teach and model reflective skills in a variety of ways if we are to demystify reflection.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 104 Number 7, 2002, p. 1393-1421
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10987, Date Accessed: 11/19/2017 12:44:19 PM

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About the Author
  • Elizabeth Spalding
    University of Nevada
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH SPALDING is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her research interests include performance and portfolio assessment, learning communities in teacher education, and secondary English teaching and teachers. Recent publications include: E. Spalding, T. A. Savage, & J. Garcia, “The March of Remembrance and Hope: The Effects of a Holocaust Education Experience on Preservice Teachers’ Thinking About Diversity,” Multicultural Education (2003); and E. Spalding & A. Wilson, “Demystifying Reflection: A Study of Pedagogical Strategies That Encourage Reflective Journal Writing,” Teachers College Record (2002).
  • Angene Wilson
    University of Kentucky
    E-mail Author
    ANGENE WILSON is a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She has written many articles and a book, The Meaning of International Experience for Schools (Praeger, 1993), in her major area of research, the impact of international experience on students, teachers, and schools. Her most recent articles are “Growing Toward Teaching from a Global Perspective: An Analysis of Secondary Social Studies Preservice Teachers” in The International Social Studies Forum (2001) and “A Cross-National Conversation about Teaching from a Global Perspective: Issues of Culture and Power” in Theory Into Practice (2001).
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