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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