Reflective Portfolios: Tools For Training Teachers
Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Reflective Practices and Continued Professional Development (CPD)
There are a number of educational challenges in the world today key amongst them include lack of effective teacher training institutions, Lack of resources, the lack of technology used and inadequate capacity building of teachers, hence students. The quality of education has been equated to the efficiency by which school outputs are attained. It is only after the correct mix of inputs is achieved that the desired outputs can be obtained (Psacharopoulos, 2009; Heynemann and Loxley, 2010).
Lockheed and Verspoor, (1991) in their study identified five major areas of input that need to be re-evaluated in order to improve the quality of education. They include increasing student capacity, improving curriculum, improving teaching, increasing learning materials and increasing instructional time. Output includes achievement proxies such as completion rates and promotions as well as the real achievement measures for instance skills learned and the quantity and kinds of facts.[quix id='58' name='order now banner 1']
The solution to these problems is reflective practice because of the fact that the professional thresholds for trainers, teachers and tutors worldwide hold that those in the teaching career should begin valuing reflection and assessment of their practice and their continuous professional development as teachers. Apart from that, teachers’ professional knowledge and comprehension includes means through which they can reflect, assess and employ research to develop their own practice while sharing good practices with others.
According to Dewey (2012) thoughts afford the primary technique of escape from pure routine actions. A person that is incapacitated in terms of thoughts is only moved by appetites and intuitions for they are established by external conditions and their inner state. If they are moved they are essentially pushed from behind meaning they lack control and are only dragged by circumstances given that they cannot comprehend them. Teachers worldwide must thus move from being routine oriented to being reflective oriented for this is typified by continuous self assessment and development.
Movements being made to reform the education of teachers have kicked off in most parts of the world. The strategies and directions that these movements have so far taken vary from each country and region worldwide. Invariable and dynamic educational policies across nations, research, innovations and continuous discourse in this field have made lots of contributions to new ways of comprehending teacher education in various societies (Farrell, 2004).
It is acknowledged broadly that Pakistani’s public sector education is of low quality compared to what is happening on the international scale and this has been as a result of various factors. The concept of poor education is typical of numerous elements. However, primarily it is characterized by the manner in which children are made to learn via rote memorization aimed at only myopically reproducing it in examinations (Hayes, 2009; Jaffer, 2005).
The environment in Pakistan schools coupled with their class room pedagogies do not support students to get involved in deep cognitive learning where they can exercise their gifted abilities and own judgment to comprehend what it means to learn everything they are presented in their class rooms by their teachers (Sultana, 2011; World Bank, 2006). A number of research studies have found a relationship between the learning of students and continuous professional development of their teachers (Guskey and Spark, 2006; Halai et al., 2004; Joyce and Showers; Shah, 2010; Sykes, 2009).
Findings from the 2009, Pakistan national statistics 91% of the country’s teachers have undergone some kind of training. The disturbing part of these statistics is that the effect of teacher training has not been exhibited in student outcomes. Various factors account for Pakistan’s poor quality educational standards. These poor standards of education both in schools that are in the public and private sector have been widely criticized by various stakeholders (Ashraf, 2004; Government of Pakistan, 2005). This poor quality of education according to stakeholders reflects the poor quality of teachers that serve in the public sector schools (Asian Development Bank, 2002).[quix id='60' name='order now banner 2']
The highest priority reforms in the Pakistan education sector is thus to reform teachers so that they impart quality education to their students. All stakeholders concede that there is an unsatisfactory quality of teachers in public and private sector schools in Pakistan. This poor quality of teachers has been attributed to government mutations, an inadequate teacher training program and a training structure that has already been rendered obsolete. The prevalence of incompetence teachers in huge quantities and compromises in the sector that allow malpractice have eroded gains that had been made by the sector several years ago (Elbaz, 2013).
The quality of teachers is established by their degree of professional competence inclusive of attitudes, knowledge, skills and understanding that they bring to the education sector. Teachers that lack the necessary degree of professional competence attribute this partly to the dysfunctional nature of the Pakistan education sector (DIFSD and USAID, 2008; Nizamani, Manzoor-ul-Haque, 2007).
Most researchers in the education literature agree that teachers’ competence is established by the quality of training they are subjected to. Pakistan’s 2009 national educational policy finds a direct relationship between the deteriorating educational standards in the country and inadequate training facilities coupled by an obsolete teacher training structure (Government of Pakistan, 2009).
The training of teachers being an important component of the country’s education system has failed to effectively respond to the extremely dynamic socio political and economic elements in Pakistan. An overview of the current literature stemming from donor funded projects documents, government reports, independent studies and policy documents have identified the gap in this discourse. This literature provides a wider consensus on challenges that impede the quality of teacher training in Pakistan. However, it is not involved in the deeper evaluation of the major factors that are basic to this problem (Duffy, 2009).
I found that the current literature on the training of teachers in Pakistan concentrates on a wide range of issues, challenges and tensions that confront educational changes and teacher training in Pakistan both at the micro and macro levels (Asian Development Bank, 2002; Barber, 2010; Government of Pakistan, 2005, Jamil, 2004; Hoodbhoy 2009; UNESCO, 2008,).
The recommendations articulated unfortunately do not offer a comprehensive solution that can effectively deal with the challenges of teacher training in the country, comprehend the underlying causes of the problem and come up with programs that can effectively deal with structural and organizational issues that have caused this sorry state of affairs in Pakistan. Consequently, in spite of the inspired efforts on numerous reports that give account of the education sector in Pakistan there is still more that has to be done to comprehend the main cause of poor education standards and deal with the problem of teacher training in the country (Asian Development Bank, 2002).
Most of the major literature on this subject matter has dug into the contemporary issues facing the deteriorating education sector in Pakistan. The discussions have been descriptive in evaluating the major issues and prescriptive in providing solutions to the underlying challenges. These challenges have been pointed out and discussed in isolation rather than giving explanations to the complex interrelationships that underlie them. There is a visible gap in efforts to comprehend the changes in teacher training and its link to student learning from the view of fresh knowledge that stems from both local and universal researchers (Dewey, 2012).
There is thus an ardent need to better comprehend the causes that underlie the factors that influence the lukewarm training of teachers in Pakistan. This discourse in the country should be compared with the primary vision of a worldwide decision to improve teacher education and ensure it responds to the dynamic global socio cultural context. The principal cause fundamental to the serious gaps in efforts being made to improve the training of teachers in Pakistan stems from failures by the succeeding Pakistan regimes to execute the education policy due to a grave lack of government will (DeFour and Eaker, 2010).
The training of teachers in Pakistan has been acknowledged to form the foundation of the education system. However, the country’s successive five year plans coupled with national educational policies have been found to have come up with false claims as well as lofty promises regarding the development and reformation of the country’s education system particularly teacher training with no consideration of reality on the ground (Day, 2010).
The national educational policies have remained just that promises with no form of fulfillment whatsoever. No policy has been followed by any effort to execute the plans and reforms envisaged in these national policies. All these stem from the absence of a national vision and political will which have their roots in dysfunctional management systems, inadequate allocation of resources and poor governance (Barber, 2010; DfID and USAID, 2008).[quix id='61' name='order now banner 3']
The need to expand, streamline and institutionalize teacher training has been overstressed in literature locally (Khan, 2009; Asian Development Bank, 2002; Davis and Iqbal, 2008). In spite of the fact that there have been vocal calls to improve the quality of teacher training programs no serious step has been taken by successive governments to do so. As a matter of fact most of these programs heavily depend on donor funds and the training in itself is structured on an ad hoc basis (Fullan and Stielgebauer, 2010).
There are many programs funded by donors which have been implemented in the last six decades to support the access to and augment the quality of teacher training in Pakistan. All the four Pakistan provinces can attest to the existence of such programs in their boundaries. All these programs have centered on institutionalizing capacity building in teacher training. Generally they have hugely contributed to the education of teachers particularly the female gender and those residing in the countryside (Cutler, 2013).
Through a number of innovation strategies they have tried to set intervening strategies however, the survival of these strategies is still questionable. In spite of the proliferation of these programs there are no fiscal studies to evaluate their successes and failures. It is therefore difficult to establish the long term effect of these programs on the training of teachers and the quality of education (Cunliffe, 2002).
A serious overview of current literature indicates that most of the programs that were funded by doors stressed on quantitative targets rather than qualitative achievements. Both the government and the donors failed miserably in their attempts to institutionalize models and programs that they introduced in the training of teachers (Fullan and Stielgebauer, 2010).
Consequently, in spite of their good intentions the donor funded programs never brought about any meaningful changes in the quality of student learning and teacher education in Pakistan. Most changes that had been brought about by the donors looked like water surface bubbles and disappeared when the funding was halted. There is thus a dire need for future donor programs to reflect on these shortcomings before any commitment of funds (Duckworth, 2010).
The one shot workshop provided by donors for these programs is another point of concern for many stakeholders. This is because the frequency of training is not adequate to produce quality teachers (Fullan and Stielgebauer, 2010). However, the donors have no viable process through which they can institutionalize these programs. Consequently, the 2009 Pakistan national education policy calls for the creation of a system that will harmonize donors and improve synchronization between government agencies and donors. However, these policy suggestions have never been implemented.
Donor funded teacher training programs led to the problem in the education sector through changing class room pedagogical practices and enhancing the competence of teachers. However, most literature on education points out that it is not easy to sustain pedagogical changes if they are not backed by practical implementation of the changes in class room culture and structure which include the evaluation system and its relation to teachers and students, resources, curriculum and facilities (Fullan, 2010; Hargreaves, 2008).[quix id='70' name='order now banner 4']
1.2 Research Background or Rationale
Pakistan’s history of teacher education traces back to 1947 when the country gained its independence. The country’s five year plans coupled with its national education policies that have been developed and executed in the last six decades have treated the education of teachers as an education subsector. An overview of teacher training and its history in Pakistan indicates that there has been fundamental quantitative expansion when it comes to the number of institutions that have been established over the years and many teachers have gone through these institutions.
Today about 301 institutions provide a number of teacher educational programs that range from certificate programs to PhDs. Apart from moribund teacher training programs Pakistan’s quality of education has also been hampered by poor infrastructure to conduct training, Lack of technological advancement in Pakistani’s schools, shortage of resources, sustainability and ongoing development. (Government of Pakistan, 2005; USAID and UNESCO, 2009). Given these limitations the best option in demystifying the problem of quality education in Pakistan would be reflective practice since it requires no technology.
On the other hand, qualitatively the Pakistan education system has suffered setback of deterioration for many years. A closer scrutiny at the system indicates that it has suffered a great deal on its relevance due to the poor quality of its standards. Numerous reports, surveys and studies cite a wide range of challenges that lead to poor quality of education and deteriorating teacher performance (Butt and Shams, 2007; USAID, 2008; Mahmood, 2005). This literature has been steady in stressing the correlation between the sharp deterioration in the standards of the teaching profession and the poor learning outcomes for students that have been witnessed in the last six decades in Pakistan (Government of Pakistan, 2005; PTEPDP, 2004).
There is a widely shared perception that the teacher training programs in public and private sector institutions are substandard in nature and are characterized by being examination, rigid and text book based. The overriding pedagogy employed in these programs is typified by lecture, chalk and talk and memorization (Elbaz, 2013; Rough, Malik, and Farooq, 2007; Warwick and Reimers, 2008; World Population Foundation, 2009). The motivation underlying teachers’ pursuit of certificate, diploma or degree programs are an increment in their salaries and wages and various promotions in the education sector. The teacher education programs do not stress the necessity of professional and individual competencies not to mention the qualities embodied by an effective teacher.
All teacher training institutions are obliged to provide education programs which meet not just the demands of schools in the country but the learning needs of students as well. However, the Pakistan education sector is yet to realize this important link between teacher training and school education. In the last six decades there have been no serious efforts by the Pakistan government to deal with the serious questions stemming from the perception of the concerned public that teacher training in the country is irrelevant coupled with the dwindling education standards in the country (Carper, 2010).
On an international scale educational reforms have been the main concern of teacher education discussions. Research on teacher education and its realm was intensified in the third world economies thus availing lots of literature about the training of teachers. These findings have assisted many third world economies to join the rest of the world in improving the policies and practices concerning the training of teachers. However, the same cannot be said of Pakistan which has for many years distanced itself from the rest of the world when it comes to implementing reforms on the training of teachers (Carr and Kemmis, 2007).
Pakistan’s leading public and private educational institutions are tasked with researching on ways of generating useful knowledge. They however, have failed to develop teacher training mechanisms through research making it a pipe dream. Pakistan’s private sector has rapidly become a fundamental player in the country’s education sector (Government of Pakistan, 2005; Gulzar, Bari and Ejaz, 2005; World Bank, 2006).
As a matter of fact some institutions in the private sector have been acknowledged to disseminate quality teacher training programs founded on modern practice and continuous teacher professional development practices globally. They have since advanced student learning teacher training practices that are participatory in nature, highly interactive with a focus on promoting problem solving, conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills (Saleem, 2009; Kazilbash, 2009; UNESCO, 2008). In spite of these achievements the Pakistan government has not learned from what the private sector has been doing over the years.
The major challenges confronting the Pakistan education system originate from serious deficiencies in the system of training teachers (Government of Pakistan, 2005). Factors that contribute to the moribund teacher training system are intricately interlinked, complex and multilayered. On the other hand at primary level the declining nature of the teacher training programs have their root causes in the lack of political will to bring sanity in the system creating a widening gap between policy findings and the implementation of their recommendations (Campbell and Wyman, 2011). Teacher training is a dynamic complex and multifaceted field. Concerns on education quality calls for clear solutions on teacher training and student learning programs in Pakistan as well as enhancing the use of advanced technology Pakistani’s schools, provision of resources, as well as sustainable and continuous development. An overview of the education literature on Pakistan in comparison to the worldwide practice acknowledges a number of serious gaps in comprehending Pakistan teacher training practices. There is a substantial shift in Pakistan’s perception on the improvement of the education system and the role of teachers in these changes as seen in the country’s successive national educational policies (Burrows, 2010).[quix id='71' name='order now banner 5']
All government reports have acknowledged the important role played by teachers in reforming schools and stress on efforts to support teachers’ status and their profession as a whole (Fullan and Stielgebauer, 2010). This is consistent with what is being said in the international literature on teacher training and school reform programs. .Changes in the education sector are thus determined by what is thought out and done by teachers which embodies this paper’s research question How and to what extent do the reflective portfolios influence Teacher learning in Pakistan? As a matter of fact a surgical look at the local Pakistan literature attempts to critique teacher training clearly mirrors a narrow focus since it stresses upon the organizational and structural issues at the expense of pedagogy and conceptual elements of teacher training practices. Apart from that, the teacher training discourse has a higher focus on technical teaching aspects that involve discipline knowledge and a set of skills that are necessary to impart learning on students (Bullock and Hawk, 2009).
The international literature on the other hand emphasizes on moral, personal and social aspects of teacher training that have been disregarded in the local Literature. Pakistani’s teacher training literature is highly affected by presumptions and theories that underlie the conventional transmission methodology of teacher training and continuous professional development that regards teaching as a socially, individual and cultural centered activity whose objective is to disseminate knowledge (Cole and Knowles, 2010; Joyce, 2011; little, 2009).
The technical methodology portrays that the mechanism of one being a teacher is to simply learn to teach (Frechner, 2007; Levine, 2006; Lewin and Stuart, 2003). Teaching is unfairly portrayed as a technical activity while teachers are in bad taste given the role of technicians that must equip themselves with the required knowledge necessary for imparting learning on students (Dewey, 2012; Cocheran-Smith and Fires, 2011; Valli, 2009). This perception on the training of teachers and their professional development focuses on attaining teaching skills necessary for routine and expected class room situations. It ultimately fails to acknowledge family and life situations, class room dynamics, the personal make up of teachers and the schools’ complex realities.
As argued by Valli (2009) class room experiences are dynamic in nature and tend to be full of uncertainty consequently, answers to teaching challenges cannot be solved through a mere procedure of rule application rather they demand that teachers exercise the wisdom of practice which can only be done effectively through reflective portfolios. Most of the narratives in international literature point out that teacher training is not necessarily confined to a class room setting rather teachers tend to gain most of their knowledge from informal experiences that are regulated by themselves through reflective practice.
1.3 Research Questions
- There was some growth in the level of reflection of teachers, who were writing portfolios over a period of one month? How true is this statement?
- The Pakistan education system for teachers stresses on technical aspects rather than theoretical aspects. How true is this statement?
- The education of teachers in serious domains such as ethical, personal and social issues that are greatly emphasized worldwide has been less regarded in Pakistan. How true is this statement?
- To improve their effectiveness Pakistan teachers should be trained on the development of reflective practices in teaching via portfolios. How true is this statement?
1.4 Research Aim and Objectives
- To find out if reflective practices best solution for Pakistan
- To explore if portfolios improve teacher level of reflection
- To investigate if reflection helps in professional development of teachers
- To analyze if increased level of reflection also increases student learning
1.5 Significance of Study
Dewey (2012) opines that teacher training programs must generate teachers that are mindful of education fundamentals and theory rather than routine skills that make them merely followers, technicians and copiers of set traditions. Given that reflection requires minimal resources it is best suited for Pakistan. The characteristic teacher training programs in Pakistan are heavily affected by presumptions and theories that underlie the structural methodology broadly criticized by researchers in the international literature. This structural methodology is technical in nature since teachers are made to copy and paste from books rather than offer their own informal experience for learning purpose.
Emerging methodologies in teacher training and continuous professional development for instance lifelong learning, reflective practice (Schin, 2011), and inquiry (Joyce, 2011; Dawson, 2006) perceive teachers as active agents in their own development. However, reflection will be very suitable for Pakistan teachers who are not that much endowed with resources for training since it requires minimal training and once they acquire these skills they will not be required to go for more training.
Their aim is to instigate practical skills and an inquisitive attitude amongst teachers. Teachers are expected to know the outcome and origin of their realities, decisions, behaviors and actions (Luke and McArdle, 2009). There is a higher likelihood of teachers changing and controlling actions and restraints and ultimately provide solutions to educational and pedagogy challenges once they obtain the reflection skills.
The classroom is extensively a complex learning place that requires a teacher’s broad knowledge and comprehension coupled with the capacity and skills to cope with emerging issues. This therefore means that reflection is a skill that is self sustainable since teachers learn from their daily activities on how to deal with emerging issues. Given the dynamic nature of their jobs teachers are not supposed to depend on a narrow body of knowledge that consists of technical and teaching paradigms acquired in their development programs rather their live experiences in distinct work settings are the sources of robust understanding and perceptions thus sustaining them in their continuous professional development (Darling-Hammond, 2002; Lawton, 2006; Thiessen and Kilcher, 2009). The increasing research literature on teacher training indicates that challenges complicating teachers’ classroom work are not in isolation rather they are related intricately. Teachers’ jobs and lives are socially built and powerfully affected by the decisions and restraints of the other members of society (Bottery, 2006; Darling-Hammond, 2002; Hargreaves, 2008). Reflection will therefore lead to their capacity building and enable them to cope with daily socio economic and cultural challenges that they come across in the course of their duties. Dynamic leading theorists and researchers highlight the significance of teachers widening their strategy to school improvement and educational change. They opine that it inevitably demands the diversification of teachers’ roles in changes through the extension of their work beyond schools into work places, homes and communities (Hargreaves, 2008; Fullan, 2010; Boyle, While and Boyle, 2003). Given that reflection requires no technology teachers must perceive themselves at the center of all projects aimed at improving schools and the society at large (Thiessen, 2009). As a matter of fact in this research there was no use of technology this is because Literature also acknowledges the personalization and conceptualization of teachers knowledge; how biographies impact their teaching practice and the employment of teaching methods and ways of perceptions taken over from their former teachers and real time experiences (Beattie, 2011; Cole and Knowles, 2010; Clandinin and Connelly, 2009). Studies that have been done in Pakistan have confirmed findings of such studies in the global context which found teachers to be products of a number of effects from their cultural, socio economic and religious structures rather than technology (e.g., Ali, 2007; Ashraf, 2004; Bashiruddin, 2003; Halai, 2001; Fred, 2000; Matice, 2002; Rizvi, 2004). These perspectives indicate that teacher training systems can be comprehended better in light of specific cultures and societies and not technology. The occurrences outside schools are more significant than those that happen within the school because they establish what occurs within the school walls.
This draws attention to the necessity of acknowledging the relationship between socio economic and political contexts and teacher training in places where teachers work learn and develop professionally. Social-political, economic and education challenges are intrinsic and inseparable for they demand teachers to have a deeper comprehension of students’ culture and social-economic and political context in order to effectively understand how to approach their challenges and solve them effectively (Brookfield, 2010; Marshall, 2009).[quix id='70' name='order now banner 4']
The political class should also be addressed to use national programs to foster new kinds of practice in the improvement of the quality of education in schools through robust modalities in the training of teachers. It is broadly agreed that teachers have a distinct set of personality characters and behavioral patterns. The complete personality of teachers is established by previous life experiences and the social circumstances in which they conduct their lives. Teachers’ pedagogical practices, beliefs and behaviors are stuck in their distinct personality (Brockbank and McGill, 2010). Teacher training and continuous professional development is individual in nature and tends to be influenced by socio-political and cultural forces in addition to living experiences they go through. Hargreaves (2008) points out that changing teachers, is equivocal to changing the persons they are. The evaluation strategy in the literature of the professional development of teachers in Pakistan does not factor in the effects that stem from biographic and personal factors yet these are very critical if Pakistan teachers are to adopt reflective practice. The professional development of teachers is not narrowed to the training or technology they are subjected to in their colleges and universities rather it is a result of the experiences that involve incessant reflections coupled with struggles they undergo on the daily basis both within and without the school. Teachers training and professional development could be impacted through unfolding their practices, biographies, beliefs and thinking in comparison to set structures, students, class room procedures and pedagogy. Their evolving identities can be acknowledged through evaluating their complexity (Boud and Walker, 2012).
These dimensions seem to extended elements of teaching as a function, however, a sharp scrutiny indicates that they are strongly related to teacher training and inextricably related to each other. The global literature on teacher training demands that teacher and fundamental capacities should be strengthened in order to comprehend and deal with challenges stemming from citizenship development, gender equity, personal empowerment, social justice, technology, fairness, economy, peace, the environment and security (Kubow, 1999; Niyozov, 2001; Tay-Koay, 1999; Zeller & Grandson, 1997; Zeichner, 2009).. Zeichner and Flessner (2009) assert that there are several efforts in a number of countries to train teachers to be the agents of socio-political and economic changes in an effort to make them work with local communities and their colleagues to deal with the challenges of injustice and inequity. In the same breath the citizens of Pakistan require efforts at various fronts which include the training of teachers to deal with challenges stemming from broadly spread and deeply rooted injustice and social inequity challenges. As a matter of fact lack of technological innovations in the country has made it difficult for schools in the country to cope with the changing world. Consequently, this research did not apply the use of any technology but there is a need for a research to be done on e-portfolios and how they can be of effect in the Pakistan education sector. This is so because as the perception of teacher training and their work continues to change the social world realities also change and with them emerge new identities of the teaching fraternity (Giroux, 2009; Glatthorn, 2012; Nodding, 2011; Randi and Corno, 2007).
The diversification of roles played by teachers has presented them as catalysts for social justice and educational changes, innovators, moral agents, leaders, public intellectual, emancipators and social reformers (e.g., Ali, 2007; Sergiovani, 2011; Strike and Soltis, 2009). This means that teachers in all societies including Pakistan should not just be educators but also active agents for social political and economic changes.
Giroux (2009) postulates that teachers should commit themselves to extend the value of social justice to all spheres of cultural, economic and political life. The main literature on the training if teachers in Pakistan mirror a narrow and fixed focus since it mainly dwells on structural and organizational issues at the expense of pedagogy and conceptual fundamentals in teacher training practices. As a consequence of continuous research and reflection on global practice there have emerged a number of theories that are being discussed and employed in efforts to augment comprehension and practice in the teacher training field. These theories include reflective practice, collaborative inquiry, constructivism, and action research. They have pervaded the discourse on teacher training and given it a basis for its effectiveness. This paper deals with the Reflective practice theory which if taken seriously can offer the right vision and direction in efforts to reform the teacher training programs in Pakistan (v and Day, 2010).[quix id='76' name='order now banner 8 - case study']
According to Schon (2011) reflective practice is a popular phenomenon that has dominated the discourse on teacher training and continuous professional development globally. Loughrain (2006), reflection is the foundation of most teacher training programs. It is perceived to be a workable construct that is capable of guiding research and reforms in teacher training (Cole and Knowles 2010; Loughran, 2006; Ritter, 2009; Qureshi, 2008; LaBoske, 2006; Vivienne, 2010). The unrelenting interest of teachers, researchers and educators globally stem from the continuous work that is already being done in the reflective practice field. It is perceived that this practice will underlie the teaching practice and training of most teachers in the world today.
In spite of the domineering role of reflective practice in the current dispensation its concept represents diverse meanings to various individuals in diverse socio cultural settings. However, if undertaken as a common direction for the training of teachers rather than a template that should be copied the reflective practice concept portents a significant aspect of the mission to improve the quality of output in teacher training and student learning in Pakistan’s education sector (Anderson, 2011).
1.6 Study Design
This paper will use the Case study approach to find out the effectiveness of reflective portfolios as tools for training teachers. The participants would be eight early year teachers from a Private school in Lahore Pakistan. A two day training will be given to the teachers on reflective practice before any interventions are done.
The teachers would then maintain portfolios for a month. The end of each week in this month will have focus groups. Data collection procedure will entail daily portfolios that will gauge the levels of reflection. The semi structured focus groups will also be recorded. The daily portfolios will gauge reflection levels where coding and template analysis approach will be employed.
Chapter 2 Literature Review
2.1 What is Reflection and reflective Practices?
Reflection can be defined as an active procedure where one witnesses his own experience in an effort to have a closer look and briefly direct his attention to it. It could be done in the middle of an activity or it could be itself an activity. The solution to student teachers reflection is learning how they can undertake perspectives on their own actions and experiences. This means they should examine these experiences instead of merely living them. Through developing the capacity to explore and being curious about their individual experiences and actions they are likely to open up opportunities for objective learning derived from their experiences rather than from books.
The main objective of reflection is to enhance the likelihood of learning via experience this could stem from a relationship, meeting, a success, a project, a disaster or any internal and external events upon or during their occurrences. A number of experiences create powerful learning opportunities via reflection. Struggles offer a window onto what is working and what is not and could be valuable tools for evaluating the real nature of challenges faced by student teachers. Other struggles symbolize a dilemma that offers a loaded source of information on student teachers clashes between their values and their approach to how they can get something done. Through reflecting on uncertainty experiences teachers are able to get some light on approaches in their work settings that are not completely specified.
Positive experiences provide incredible learning outcomes for instance learning and thinking breakthroughs can assist student teachers know what they learned and how their success theory looks like. Breakthroughs also provide an impetus for emotional levels. When student teachers locate when and how they were excited by certain experiences they get the insight of settings that allow the flouring of their creativity.
Reflective practice is the creation of a routine, habit or structure around examined experiences. Reflection practices tend to vary in relation to why, how often and how much of the reflection is done. There are diverse ways through which one can structure reflection. It could be practiced at various frequencies; this could be a year, a number of days or eve several months. It also varies in depth and this ranges from a simple notice of current experiences to deep evaluation of previous events and the various objectives they can serve for instance developing mutual thinking, assessing thinking patterns, realigning daily activities with deeper values and the documentation of learning experiences (Raelin, 2002).[quix id='78' name='order now banner 9 academic admission essays']
2.2 Teachers as Reflective Practitioners
Teachers reflection exercises are not as easy as put by theorists. This is because they need a lot of commitment as well as energy to scrutinize their teaching. Cultural conditioning, childhood experiences and adult traumas could be strongly embedded in their psyche and create a fear of a loser look of themselves and their work. If their experiences are too painful they could resist learning how to reflect. This is because it takes an extra degree of ego to place themselves and their work under scrutiny. Consequently, a number of student teachers never become reflective after their training (Rodgers, 2007).
Contextual as well as professional elements also impact their ability to reflect. If teachers need to extra hours to earn a living there could be barely any time left out for reflection. Their working contexts cannot be reflective if they are mainly interested in their salaries rather than growth and development professionally. Established career and contextual elements have become the prerequisites for teachers’ reflection and affect their ability to engage in it. When primary contextual, personal and professional factors are stabilized and teachers gain the curiosity to learn the reflection process they will be able to engage in it effectively. This calls for a sustained commitment to this process and the enlistment of will that must be improved continuously (Perrone, 2008).
Most teachers tend to acquire the ability to think reflectively while still student teachers. On the other hand other teachers react to reflection by thinking of a class room situation where they describe what occurred and their feelings towards it. Upon comprehending the nature of reflection and how they can reflect in their thoughts they can use it as a tool (Korthagen, 2009).
In the course of using reflection teachers tend to come across difficulties that they have to conquer if they are to sustain their commitment of coming up with a reflective teaching practice. One of the most challenging difficulties is emotional reactions to class room teaching investigations. Deeper reflections of their teaching tend to uncover cases of favoritism towards particular students, learning, teaching theories and learning styles (Hatton and Smith, 2010).
On the other hand, teachers would hardly accept records of their class room pedagogical issues indicating high teacher talk percentage, power inequalities, lack of class room procedure clarity, racism and gender bias. At such instances if given a chance they could run away to safe havens and forget about reflecting for a while in order to sort out issues of shame, fear and anger that are triggered by such discoveries. They could however, still sustain reflection albeit externally through dialogues, readings and workshops (Greene, 2011).
The most significant element of the external phase is to sustain contact with reflection in workable forms without dumping commitment to developing a reflective teaching practice and a continuous investigation of the challenging findings. When teachers maintain reflection in in the face of challenging emotions they hold on to the link of reflective teaching practice (Duckworth, 2010).
2.3 Critiques Of Reflection
As much as reflection is the main objective in most teachers training programs there still remains a gap in its definition. In the last decade reflection and critical reflection have cropped up in evocative approaches in teacher education. It is however, visible that these terms have been ill defined and thus loosely applied in embracing several notions and strategies. Conventionally Dewy has been recognized as the pillar behind the reflection concept. He perceived it as a special type of problem solving technique where thinking was applied in solving issues that entailed active chaining and a cautious ordering of thoughts that linked each other to their predecessors (Valli, 2009).[quix id='79' name='order now banner 10']
As much as various concepts in the training of teachers could grant themselves more to a certain type of reflection than another it is critical that these types are not perceived as a rapidly desirable hierarchy (Cutler, 2013). Technical reflection is a critical part of the first stage in the teacher student development. It is essentially an antecedent to other types of reflection. For instance the Cruikshank’s reflective teaching entails employing microteaching to help in the development of competence between students and teachers (Fuller, 2011).
As much as various claims on the merits of this strategy have been pointed out there has been very little research presentation and all presentations so far made have been superficial. This is because they confine themselves to whether there has been an attainment of ends. However, this could be a platform for the provision of tools to enhance the development of other kinds of reflection. Consequently, the assertions that the education of teachers must concern itself with the equity and justice that is developed through strategies that encourage critical reflection have been advanced with lots of vigor (Cutler et al., 2013).
Reflection’s theoretical framework that is adopted by a certain program is determined by its objectives and concentration; consequently upon the teacher training and teaching presumptions on which they are based. Numerous approaches have been applied to enhance reflection in the training of teachers. However, some have been found not appropriate for reflection stimulation and there is a gap in research evidence to indicate their effectiveness. In any case their effectiveness is determined by prior restructuring (Elbaz, 2013). Serious questions are also being raised on journal writing ethics and veracity.
Some researchers have also advocated the employment of students’ metaphors for teaching purposes as a platform of reflecting on their underlying presumptions and how they can enlighten solutions to the dilemmas inherent in teaching. As much as this and other strategies are capable of enhancing reflection there is no evidence to indicate that this is being attained. It is now critical to go beyond reports to pointing out techniques by which the process of reflection could be substantiated. It is not adequate to assert point out that reflection is enhanced by procedures or techniques rather there must be specifications to reveal that certain types of reflections are occurring (Smith and Hatton, 2008).
In addition longitudinal studies need to be done to follow student teachers into their teaching first year with a visible portrayal of the manner by which they retain, develop and loose reflective approaches. There are several obstacles to the attainment of reflective approaches; they include; ideological and structural programs through which various reflections are encouraged, existing preconceived notions on the teaching profession, the teacher’s likely responses on the requirement that they undertake reflection and the critical conditions that enable teachers to adopt reflective ability for instance being effective in their class room activities (Hall, 2010).
Valli (2009) observes that these kinds of problems became a hindrance to the execution of reflective teacher education. Particularly the strength as well as persistence exhibited by participants in his study of reflective approaches in American Proteach program on their teaching conceptualization was a huge barrier. For instance most students in the Proteach program in Florida seemed to comply with reflection enhancement strategies. However, their deep conceptions mirrored a fixed perception of the teaching nature they had developed before they entered the program. Preconceptions led to some resistance amongst the students; in a number of cases their teaching perceptions were very instrumental that they did not go beyond fundamental descriptive reflection.
2.4 Justification Of The Research Topic
The desire to prepare teachers that are reflective practitioners has rapidly gained acceptance worldwide. Giant multinationals have now adopted this phenomenon as the threshold of aspiring their professionals. Most researchers today perceive reflection as the seal of professional proficiency for teachers. In most nations professional teachers’ professional standards recommend that teachers must be reflective practitioners. This is so because it enables teachers to employ approaches that can prioritize their pragmatism and efficiency. Teachers that have enhanced the tradition of thoroughly reflecting on their tasks have exhibited lots of productivity.
Reflective practice is the impulsion of practitioners to inquire about their practice in regard to why they choose certain activities, approaches, techniques and resources over others. This questioning when combined with the capacity to assess the suitability of the choices learners and materials that are being developed forms the heart of reflective practice. Thoughts afford the fundamental escape technique from impetuous to customized actions (Dewey, 2012). The word escape connotes that reflection is a wonderful undertaking.
Reflection is registered when lecturers gain the willingness to search in a persistent and protracted manner of doubt or bewilderment. Instead of permeating a challenging moment of teaching leave lecturers with a feeling of powerlessness. Reflection has become an instrument that makes learning from difficult teaching moments feasible. Reflection that is coupled with research on challenges tends to lead to the development of self and this is how robust approaches tend to be discovered.[quix id='60' name='order now banner 2']
The major elements of reflective practice are include a deliberate pause, assessment or thinking at a higher level and informed robust actions that stemming from thinking perceived to be of a higher level and deeper comprehension. Reflective practice amongst teachers has rapidly gained relevance in the global education community. As much as Dewey’s primary definition of reflection was in 1933 the concept started gaining relevance in western systems of education in the last two decades. Educators globally have now comprehended the significance of teaching via the reflection lens.
As a matter of fact comprehensive studies have recognized about seven core US universities which teach reflection as an underlying theme of their teacher training programs. There are reports from New-Zealand, Australia and Europe of teacher training programs whose objective is to make teachers reflective practitioners. The primary concern of modern day teacher trainers is to prepare teachers that are reflective (Valli, 2009).
Expert teachers tend to draw from a wide range of skills and approaches from which they can automatically impart learning. Through reflective practice they can explore how the repertoire of these approaches makes them free to act on exceptional events. In most cases the teachers cannot explain why their choice is these strategies but upon questioning they are capable of reconstructing the rationale for their choices (Rollet, 2010). Seasoned teachers thus tend to question their decisions as far as resources and methodologies are concerned so as to adjust from habitual to reflective action. This reflective action is typified by progressive growth and self appraisal (Scales, 2008).
The study of teachers’ reflective practice will also help in comprehending how teachers’ beliefs and principles affect their reflection. Teachers teaching philosophy influence their reflective practice so that it is either inclined to the education system concerns or to human concerns. As a matter of fact reflection action is essentially determined by the reflective lens. The reflective teaching portfolio thus only conceptualizes the lens via which the reflective teachers evaluate practice. This is portrayed through their teaching philosophy which establishes their reflective teaching portfolio (Wellington and Austin, 2011).
2.5 Significance Of Study In Pakistan
This study is very critical to Pakistan’s education system; this is so because Pakistan is faced with education challenges that range from lack of evaluation systems, poor infrastructure, improper monitoring, bad teaching practices, lack of teacher training and teacher absenteeism. Teachers are therefore critical actors when it comes to the improvement and sustenance of the education quality on the Asian country. This study will therefore provide teachers with the impetus to assess and self reflect their teaching practices via their own lenses thus impacting the performance of students. Through achieving a better comprehension of their personal teaching styles via reflection practices teachers are more than able to enhance their efficiency in Pakistan’s public and private schools classrooms (USAID, 2004).
The fundamental advantage of teachers’ reflective practice is a deeper comprehension of their teaching style and ultimate efficiency in their profession. Other advantages include the respect for diversity whenever they make the applications of theory in practice, the validation of their ideals, the acknowledgement of the teaching profession as critical to economic empowerment of a nation. Fuller in his case study of University of Texas in 2011 teachers describes a graduate teacher who was challenged in figuring out the presets of good teaching. She critiqued the presented practices and traditions. At the onset her pedagogy included conventional direct teaching practices. Sooner rather than later her own good teaching practice perceptions were challenged even as she practiced them. She was given an opportunity to evaluate her work through reflection and this assisted her recognize and corroborate the outcome of her learning activities (Fuller, 2011).
Studies done on reflective practice in the last twenty years show that professional development and successful reflective practice are related to progressive professional growth, inquiry and reflection; this kind of research is critical to both trainers and school administrators for it provides professional growth to both the in-service teaching levels. Pakistani’s public and private schools are likely to gain interest in training their teachers to be reflective practitioners if this happens then teachers in this country will gain an enhanced comprehension of their personal teaching techniques via reflective practices.
2.6 What Are Effective Teaching Portfolios?
The development of portfolios is an admired technique of enhancing considerable reflection as well as assessing practice. It is the anthology of reflective dialogue records, learning intentions, learning outcomes and learning activities accounts. It entails evidence from a wide range of sources that includes private learning journals, logs and diaries and most critical reflective documents that detail teachers learning process (Brockbank and McGill, 2010).[quix id='76' name='order now banner 8 - case study']
According to Scales reflection could be both an activity and a process and should lead to products like reflective journals, diaries and logs. His definition of a reflective journal connotes written records of experiences as well as feelings on the plans, preparations and delivery of learning and teaching. It is an instrument that enhances reflection and arouses enquiry in pedagogical practice. It thus verifies details on critical teaching occurrences and problems (Scales, 2008). Its records substantiate fundamental problems and points out after researching, reflecting and discussing main developments for successive teaching and learning experiences. It [provides teachers a platform to understand these experiences through learning, organizing and evaluating them and often times it is very therapeutic (Scales, 2008).
In order to know the kind of tools that are suitable for various situations there is a need for serious reflection on teaching practice in order to horn the existing practices thus making additions to lecturers’ learning strategies and teaching repertoire for instance pedagogy. According to Leach and Moon in the absence of tools humanity is not just a naked ape rather it is an empty phenomenon (Leach and Moon, 2008). In order to find out the tools that are suitable for distinct situations it calls for serious reflection and substation for more assessment and reflection as far as robust teaching techniques are concerned. Practical reflection strategy has the extra advantage of enhancing incredible action responsiveness. Reflective teaching portfolios enable reflective lecturers to frame their pedagogical development and practice assessment in relation to the lens they critically reflect through (Mezirow, 2011).
According to Fry teachers that employed reflective teaching portfolios obtained the inducement and space to connect with pertinent literature and existing debates while looking at bets practice that connected theory and practice which made them have more wide thoughts. Reflective teaching portfolios are advantageous because of the following reasons; they provide the capacity to reflect and evaluate teaching. They offer opportunities where teaching can be discussed amongst colleagues (Fry, 2009).
These portfolios also enhance experimentation with robust teaching strategies where teachers are able to deeply engage in building up comprehensive teaching materials. They also provide teachers with the platform to evaluate fundamental philosophies in their working context and mull over optional strategies founded on distinct philosophies (Brockbank and McGill, 2010).
Consequently, the anthology of successful teaching portfolio is a platform that enhances critical reflection and stimulates research and discussions on more reflective practitioners. It enables and supports practitioners that call time out to absorb and think about the effectiveness of their practice. More so it encourages research in the identification of what works or does not work regarding the engagement of students and their promotion to a positive experience and learning setting. It is imperative that tacit experiences are recorded in journals in order to make reflective practice a transformational experience (Scales, 2008).
Learning institutions across Pakistan should create opportunities to exchange teaching ideas and so as to be more reflective on teachers teaching practices. Essentially, these are responses to national discussions on false dichotomies usually created between research and teaching. For instance Pakistan’s five year plans and national education policies are national discussions to improve the education system. However, the country’s successive five year plans coupled with national educational policies have been found to have come up with false claims as well as lofty promises regarding the development and reformation of the country’s education system particularly teacher training with no consideration of reality on the ground (Brockbank and McGill, 2010).
There are three approaches that have been common to research discussions. Firstly, research tends to be resolutely grounded in disciplines and a scholarly approach to teaching reviews focuses on teaching of particular disciplines. Secondly, given that research is transformed to scholarship upon being shared faculty has to change the teaching community into its property. Scholarship tends to involve judgments being made on faculty work. In the case of teaching profession in Pakistan this portents that members of faculty would start assessing each other’s achievements as far as learning and teaching are concerned (Brockbank and McGill, 2010).
The teaching portfolio is one of the critical tools that members of faculty can employ in documenting their teaching practice. A teaching portfolio is founded on the model that is usually used by architects and artists in their work and is essentially a record of teaching achievements. It entails materials and documents that collectively imply all elements that have a bearing on the performance of teachers. It also has selective information pertaining to teaching activities and substation of their efficacy (Bullock and Hawk, 2009).
A portfolio should not just be a plain gathering of documentation rather it should have reflective statements on included materials and the approach of faculty members to student learning and teaching. The portfolio’s reflective portions assist in setting the documents for the reader’s context while the materials offer evidence to back up assertions in the reflective statement (Bullock and Hawk, 2009).
In consideration of a portfolio’s contents members of faculty should make considerations on being exhaustive or representative. Exhaustive is when they have to reflect on issues as a group while representative is where they do individual reflection. This is so because all who are involved in making the document may have to be consulted by third parties who want to read it for reference purposes. This large document collection portents a challenge to the sustainability of the portfolio’s reflective aspect which is its primary concern. The portfolio should thus fully represent all aspects of teaching concerns of members of faculty (Campbell and Wyman, 2011).
2.7 Tools of Reflection- Portfolios
The practice of perceptive learning tends to focus on comprehending ideas and circumstances through careful observation. Teachers concern themselves with the manner in which things occur by making attempts to view them from distinct perceptions where they rely on their judgment, thoughts and feelings. Their methods of instruction include; discussions, personal journals, thought questions, reflective essays and observation reports (Sergiovanni et al., 2011).[quix id='61' name='order now banner 3']
The primary presumption in this research is that learning and reflection practice as knowledge are enshrined in the community of practice through social relations. Through the observation of the real occurrences in the class rooms or outside the class rooms it is possible for teachers to gain a lot of insights into how the challenges facing learners do occur. Observation as a tool of reflection is a systematic attempt to choose, generate and report on behavioral and environmental tendencies linked to teachers’ interactions with the socio cultural and economic situations in their settings and how these impact their impartation of knowledge to their students (Strike, 1992).
Self reflection enables teachers to regard the descriptions inherent in quality formative evaluations and relate them to practice while establishing goals for augmented practice. Peer observation has two advantages initially the peer benefits from an external observer’s point of view about the lesson and the use of formative evaluations. On the other hand, the individual that offers the feedback gains through engaging rubrics to come up with feedback, whole also observing practice (Seldin, 2009).
Teachers reflective Observations are founded on the teaching art and science; a comprehensive framework for successful instruction. Observations usually transforms into a scientific tool for collecting data upon being subjected to checks and measures on validity and reliability, serving a formulated research objective and are analytically premeditated and recorded. In Observation the teachers can do their own direct observations without use of students’ views. For instance instead of asking how the students feel about their teaching they will look at their attitudes towards the subjects (Scales, 2008).
Contextual factors tend to have a wide impact on interviews as a tool of reflection from the research point of view. Most reflection in teacher student interviews takes place when an open context of discussion is permeated. Reflective interviews provide teachers a valuable manner in which they can assess and review their own practice so as to move in an well-versed and principled manner to reflective practice that is rich and more informed. If teachers are availed the opportunity to engage in interviews as a tool of reflection in the context of research they are likely to be more effective in assessing situations, choosing a suitable course of action, executing the plan of action and assessing the results to inform future practice.
Reflective interviews tend to come up with research outcomes that have a big effect on the teachers’ continuous professional development and future actions. It is a procedure that offers an important tool for even their personal development. The potential for critical inquiry in for of interviews and reflection to improve professional practice can be effectively increased if teachers internalize the process. This is when they will be in a position to face the many challenges that they come by in their professional practice.
Retallick and Groundwater-Smith (2010) point out that teachers show the evidence of their learning in a portfolio which portrays their progress and achievement of knowledge from past experiences. On the other hand Seldin (2009) perceives portfolios as structured documents which teachers use to record not just their own learning but also their students samples of work. These documents are usually developed via serious conversations, reflective writing and thoughtfulness (Lyons, 2012). It is essentially a documents container that has evidence of individuals’ disposition, knowledge and skills. Portfolios however, are better than interviews and observation because they play an important role of making teachers critical thinkers as well as reflective practitioners in their professional learning and even development as teachers. The development of portfolios is not just about the completion or gathering of evidence rather teachers also evaluate any learning that occurs in such events through reflection thus leading to their continuous learning (Retallick and Groundwater-Smith, 2010).
Teachers’ professional development is perceived as a source that can advance the content knowledge of teachers as well as pedagogical knowledge. To meet this objective teacher training institutions employ a number of tools for teachers’ development programs. In most cases these ways and strategies are employed in long term and short term programs where teachers are given opportunities to learn knowledge and skills outside schools and classrooms. The objective of these courses is to support teachers’ ability and augment students learning results.
However, a big chunk of this learning is limited to training centers, teachers are therefore disadvantaged when they execute this kind of learning in the classroom. Training and professional development centers are still being perceived by teachers as the only professional leaning source. They have since ignored the significance of experiential and wok place learning that is made possible if they reflect on their teaching practice (Kolb, 2011).[quix id='61' name='order now banner 3']
Continuous professional learning is significant for teachers since it sustains and augments their current practice performance while assisting them cope with changes. Changes are happening everyday and it is necessary that teachers raise their ability to offer enhanced learning opportunities for students. Continuous professional learning thus tends to update their skills and knowledge. Teachers play an important role in the execution of reforms in schools; in addition they are very indispensable to any meaningful school reforms because of the position they hold of influencing students (DeFour and Eaker, 2010).
According to West-Burnham and O’Sullivan (2009) amongst the important elements of managing professional learning is the decision to come up with suitable techniques that can enhance and facilitate learning. Learning could be enhanced through a number of methods such as; portfolios, reflection, conferences, action research, courses, autobiography and coaching. The portfolio is highly regarded as a learning source since it allows teachers to not only record but also reflect on what they learn (Retallick and Groundwater-Smith, 2010).
The portfolio is a methodical and highly organized kind of reflection. The development of Portfolios is not a sudden activity; it is a habitual and progressive process that makes teachers to reflect on what they practice (Seldin, 2009 and Winsor, 2008). Teachers thus get to learn from their practices through portfolios.
In Pakistani’s education system teachers training is not adequately addressed. To support teachers’ career competence the education system uses professional development courses which are highly esteemed in the country. To discharge this need a number of private and governmental institutions have decided to roll out teachers’ professional development programs, however, only a few teachers get time to attend these programs. On the other hand their learning is fragmented because no opportunities are availed to them for reflection upon their individual experiences (World Bank, 2006).
In Pakistan teacher training centers the student teachers are provided with new knowledge without any reference to their daily lives. Given the absence of the reflection process on what the student teachers have learned they are not given a platform to record their learning experiences and make any reflections on them. Consequently, the courses have no impact on the student teachers (Warwick et al., 2008). This is so because they do not gain anything new and thus have nothing to apply in the class rooms. Bell and Day (2010) points out that professional development through courses was the key to augmenting the quality of schools and children’s education, however, there was no assessment of the effect of these courses on teachers’ outcomes in schools.
2.9 Level Of Reflection- Van Manen Model
Mezirow has made a distinction between three kinds of reflections. Content reflection asperses reflection on teaching experiences while process reflection deals with problem solving. The reflection process via reflective teaching platforms tends to facilitate transformational change and continuous development given that the solving of problems has been substantiated and can be build up for more reflection and growth as is the case in the Kolb’s learning cycle. Thirdly, Mezirow also identified premise reflection that entails critical reflection via lecturers’ personal beliefs on teaching (Mezirow, 2011).
The difference between Van Manen and Mezirov levels of reflection is that while both reflective theories have three levels, Van Manen levels namely, the dialectical level, contextual level and the technical level deal with oral practices, look at the alternative practices and references past experiences while Mezirow transformational theory of reflection three levels looks at the assumptions, reviews the assumptions and the third level transforms assumptions into reality. Mezirow also has identified three learning domains namely; emancipatory, instrumental and communicative while in comparison to Van Manen’s reflection, causal explanation and practical understanding.
The Mezirow level of reflection deals with critical reflection, which tends to take place when teachers evaluate and challenge the soundness of their presuppositions while analyzing the suitability of their knowledge, comprehension and values in relation to their current context. The Mezirow model has three levels of reflection. The first level identifies the presumptions that are overlooked for instance self rules of thumb, ideas and common sense values. The second level evaluates the soundness of these assumptions on how they are linked to teachers real life experiences as well as their current context. On the other hand, the third level transforms these assumptions and makes them more comprehensive and incorporative. It employs this new knowledge to adequately inform teachers’ future practices. However, this paper will only employ the Van Manen model because it encompasses deeper reflection practices compared to the other models (Kolb, 2011; Korthagen, 2009 and Schön, 2011). Mezirow’s levels of reflection namely; instrumental, Dialogic and Self reflective are shown in the diagram below.
These processes can be perceived while teaching in a computer lab where instrumentally teachers could come up with the best way in which they could handle many students in the computer lab. Dialogically, they could find out from their own experience and based on what their colleagues have done the best way in which they could impart learning in the computer lab. Self reflectively, they could record the proceedings of what would appear to work well for them and apply this in their next classes.[quix id='70' name='order now banner 4']
Van Manen and Schon were amongst individuals who made early attempts to define reflection levels in 1977. Van Manen came up with a three level hierarchical representation made up of critical, technical and practical reflection. Schon made up a distinction between reflections on action, reflection in action and simultaneous with action, where individuals were made to look back and learn from previous experiences. He argued that it could be too challengeful to have a momentous reflection because of the multiple demands juggled by in service teachers . In addition reflection demanded a Meta position perspective where cone looked back after the occurrence of an action. For example, when teachers concentrated on finishing their lessons they would be distracted from their interaction with students (Van Manen, 2006).
The three reflection levels are; technical reflection that concentrates on teaching functions, skills and actions that overly perceive teaching episodes as isolated in nature. The second one is pedagogical reflection which is a highly advanced level that considers rationale and theory for existing practice. The third one is critical reflection a high order of reflection where teachers evaluate the political, ethical and social outcomes of their teaching and grapple with the final schooling objectives.
At the pre-reflection level in service teachers tend to automatically react to student and class room situations without a conscious regard of optional responses. They tend to operate with knee jerk responses that attribute the ownership of challenges to students and perceive themselves as being victims of situations. They assume a lot of things and have no adoption of their teaching on the demands and responses of students. Many in service teachers today have been caught up in this mess. It is thus critical that ways that can lead to the development of their reflective practices.
At the surface reflection level teachers concentrate on strategies and techniques that can be employed to reach predetermined levels. Teachers are more concerned with what works instead of considerations of goal values. In this regard the term technical is highly applied (Day, 2010; Farrell, 2004; Hatton & Smith, 2010; Schön, 2011; Valli, 2009). Jay and Johnson (2002) have also described it as being descriptive in nature. The connotation surface was employed to represent a broader scope rather than technical concerns when describing assumptions, values and beliefs that underlie the surface and thus not regarded in this type of reflection.
At the pedagogical reflection level practitioners make applications of the field’s knowledge based on existing beliefs on the symbol of quality practices. This level has little consensus on its constitution and level and thus its labeled practical in literature (Van Manen, 2006), conceptual (Farrelli, 2004), deliberative (Valli, 2009) and comparative (Jay and Johnson, 2002). The term pedagogical is perceived as highly inclusive and merges all concepts connoting a high reflection level that is founded on the application of research, teaching knowledge and theory.
At the pedagogical reflection level teachers reflect on educational objectives, theories that underlie approaches and the correlation between practice and theoretical principles. Teachers that engage in pedagogical reflection make efforts to comprehend the theoretical foundation for class room practice and to encourage consistency between advocated theory and the theory that is being used. At the critical reflection level teachers tend to reflect on their class room practices and their ethical and moral implications on students. This entails the evaluation of both professional and personal belief systems. Teachers that are critically reflective concentrate their attention internally on their practice and externally on the social conditions upon which the practices are situated. They are mainly concerned with equity and justice issues arising within and without the class room and forge on to connect their practice on democratic principles. In this regard they acknowledge that school and class room activities cannot be separated from the larger social political and economic realities.
At this critical level reflective teachers aim at becoming fully conscious of the total consequences of their actions; critical reflection thus examines the political, social and ethical outcomes of teachers practice. As much as there is enormous variability on its belief system this dimension has not been acknowledged by most scholars and others have conceptualized it as a separate entity.[quix id='78' name='order now banner 9 academic admission essays']
2.10 Different Models of Reflection- Gibbs Reflective Cycle
John’s reflection model is founded on five main questions which enable people to break down their experiences and reflect about the intrinsic results and processes (Johns, 2008). John employed Carper’s seminal work as the foundation for his model where he explored teachers aesthetics, their individual knowledge, their ethics and empirics. The reason behind this was to ensure that he compares their level of reflection in different contexts. He then encouraged the reflective practitioners to analyze how their lives have been changed and improved by this (Carper, 2010).
Kolb’s learning cycle conceptualized in 1984 starts with active experimentation where student teachers are made to try out or plan what they have learned, they then move to concrete experience where they undergo an experience, this is followed by reflective observation where they review and reflect the experience and finally they do the abstract conceptualization where they conclude what they have ;learned from the experience.
In service teachers are also taught the Kolb’s reflection model to enable them reflect on work based situations. This enables them be proactive in class and as well as while developing their independent professional practice. The aim of the Kolb’s reflection cycle is to foster the development of reflective skills and enhance attainment through experience, a framework that guides the process of reflection and feedback (Levett-Jones, 2007; Duffy, 2009; Mann et al., 2009)<>.p
Apart from taught theoretical elements and completing a Professional Development Portfolio Kolb’s guided approach incorporates multisource feedback where reflective assignments are executed to enhance professional development while developing reflective skills. The feedback obtained goes on to help in the development of reflection skills (Duffy, 2009; Johns, 2008). In the absence of open dialogue coupled with feedback reflection is likely to become introspective (Osterman & Kottkamp, 2012 ; Cunliffe, 2002; McCabe & Timmins, 2006). This prevents self assessment as well as awareness of cases like the acknowledgement of weaknesses. Most scholars encourage the employment of feedback to nurture reflective skills on the merits of acquiring a mentor (Johns, 2002).
Other advantages of the Kolb model of executing a comprehensive multi sourced feedback include student teachers assessor skills are developed thus ensuring that they also assist other student teachers. The service users are given an empowerment feeling where they are actively involved in training other professionals. This continued serious thinking coupled with reflection is capable of closing the gap existing between practice and theory, while stimulating individual and professional development amongst teacher students.
Gibb’s reflective cycle is a popular reflection model. It has six reflection stages which include; Action plan, description, feelings, evaluation, analysis and conclusion. It will be used in this study because it contains a more indepth analysis of reflection compared to the other models. In the description stage one needs to explain what they are reflecting to their readers. This information should be precise and relevant. It is very important that one does not waffle on unnecessary details.
In the feelings stage one needs to discuss thoughts and feelings of their experiences by considering how they feel at such times, what they thought of in the situation, and what they thought of afterwards of the situation. In the evaluation stage teachers need to discuss how good they feel the situation was. This involves a discussion of how they reacted to the situation and how other individuals reacted to it. The merits and demerits of the experience should also be detailed in the evaluation stage. If the situation was challenging the in service teacher should be clear if it was ultimately solved or not.[quix id='72' name='order now banner 6']
During the analysis the student teacher should discuss how he may have assisted or been a stumbling block to the situation. The student teacher can also make comparisons of what other researchers have said of the subject in literature in relation to his findings. In conclusion the student teacher should point out if it would have been possible for him to act otherwise. If it’s a positive experience the student teacher should make it known of he would act in the same manner if such a situation presented itself again if not then he should assert what he would do to change things. In particular if such an occurrence was negative in nature he should be clear on what he can do to ensure it does not occur again.
The action plan summarizes what the student teacher must know in order to ensure he improves his reaction to such a situation in case it occurs again. If they must learn how to react to such situations then it is obligatory that they undergo some training. This should also involve asking their supervisor for guidance. Gibbs reflection cycle is advantageous compared to the other models of reflection because in its six stages one is able to elaborately do more to assist in reflection. However, it is disadvantageous because it is a tedious exercise.
Gibb’s reflective cycle will be employed in this research because it is an iterative model where people learn through repetition compared to Kolb’s model which is an experiential learning model where people learn through experience. In addition Kolb’s concrete experiences may demand that teachers be involved in new experiences. On the other hand Gibb’s refllective cycle will involve reflective observation where participants will watch others and also develop observations on their individual experiences. They would then do an abstract conceptualization of theories to explain their observations.
2.11 Reflective Practices And Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Reflective practices tend to become very important aspects of the teaching profession in their relationship with their professional development. This is because if it stagnates at the technical level it restricts itself to the assessment of learning and teaching strategies coupled with class room resources. This would then make it impossible to pressurize its general significant to teachers professional development.
Concisely, as reflective practice is employed in critically exploring the fundamental presumptions in student teachers teaching practices they can start building their learning and teaching comprehension to add it to their professional knowledge. Teachers that are not reflective of their teaching have the tendency to accept daily reality in class rooms. Apart from that, they tend to put more focus on getting the most effective and efficient ways of solving challenges that are usually defined on their behalf by collective codes (Zeichner and Liston, 2011).
Restricted thinking ways do not permeate the multiple framing of solutions to challenges. Dewey’s early works have been credited with the understanding that reflective actions stem from the need to solve challenges and tend to involve the careful, active and persistent consideration of beliefs in light of supporting grounds (Dewey, 2012). He came up with a five point problem solving model that includes solution suggestions, pose questions, hypothesizing, testing then reasoning. These have since formed a reasoning sequential process.
Dewey’s findings have since been extended to other researchers. Van Manen felt that the pinnacle of reflection was when it took a moral dimension to the act of reflection where the worthwhileness of actions could be dealt with (Van Manen, 2006). Carr and Kemmis (2007) believe that this highest level of reflection involve teachers in their professional role as the central actors that can transform education. Pollard (2012) opines that reflective teaching portents a living concern with objective and outcomes for continuous professional development coupled with the means of technical competence. It is clear that teachers’ continuous professional development is highly successful if it is enhanced by teachers who choose to become reflective practitioners and this calls for specific skills and characters. According to Dewey (2012) these specific skills include wholeheartedness, open mindedness and responsibility. Continuous professional development amongst teachers calls for serious thinking and this can be actualized through embracing what Brookfield (2010) refers to as the four serious lenses they include; established theory in the education literature, the practitioner such as the teachers themselves, the learners mainly made up of the teachers students and colleagues such as their mentors.
Brookfield (2010) analyzed all that influence student teachers to do what they end up doing and the things they do not stop asking queries about. He thus opines that teachers who want to experience a continuous professional development must unpack the presumptions they have of their activities in the class room. It is by virtue of this serious reflection that teachers would be able to not only analyze the technical aspects of their continuous professional development but to also have a serious examination of issues both within and without the school that are likely to affect the quality of their activities in the class room which mainly hover about teaching and learning.
According to Schön (2011) professional knowledge is gained through working and this what realizes continuous professional development. However, most teachers employ their experience and even knowledge only as a framework for action. This differs from Deway’s notion of habitual action. Schon posts that if professional teachers start separating what they know from what they do not know they can be more effective in their tasks and thus realize continuous professional development. This would entail not just the setting of problems but also providing solutions to these problems. Here is where teachers must name tasks that they will attend to in their class room as well as the contextual framework through which they will attend to these tasks. This has resulted in two kinds of reflection for continuous professional development; reflection in action and reflection on action (Schon, 2011).
Reflection in action is the more instantaneous and unconscious reflection that occurs when teachers experienced in their profession solve problems. As a result of continuous professional development such teachers draw on the repertoire of undertandi9ng, knowledge and skills gained over the years in order to give direction in a class room in cases of a dilemma. The accumulated experience provides a good response and gives direction to students. On the other hand reflection on action is more deliberate and tends to take place after the class room events. This is because the teachers have to deeply analyze the situation before coming up with answers. The retrospective reflection is applied in such cases where answers are sought on what would have happened had a different action been taken (Burrows, 2010).
2.12 Reflection And Other Factors- (Motivation, Time Management, Perception)
Reflection as part of student teacher’s teaching practice calls for a lot of motivation since it tends to be fairly intuitive for most of them. They are subjected to focusing mentally on certain challenges which have a lot to do on how their class room session of teaching went on. By using lesson evaluation forms they are able to point out things that ran smoothly during the class room sessions. Through motivation they can intuitively think of what they need to change in their next lesson to ensure that problems that occurred in the previous lesson are not repeated.
The student teachers in this process transform from being routine reflectors to practical pr technical reflectors the results of their findings is what motivates them to practice reflection in their entire career. They even shift and start thinking of what their pupils are doing as opposed to what they are doing. In analyzing situations they then become more open by seeking the views of not just their colleagues but also those of their students (Bullock and Hawk, 2009).[quix id='73' name='order now banner 7']
Once they gain the right perception they begin to have a serious level of the reflection practice hierarchy where as even their teaching profession grows they start serious reflections on wider political, societal and ethical dimensions their work while considering the broader educational objectives of their findings. Most in service teachers in the beginning do not feel motivated due to gain wrong perspectives of practical reflection. This is because they are at times asked to discuss theoretical issues yet their immediate concern is to urgently master their daily practical teaching activities in the class room. They thus feel frustrated due to being less instinctive to the theoretical levels that are not as demanding as the practical issues (Brookfield, 2010).
For instance they may want to master how teach about cells to their students as the primary unit of life in a manner that would be more meaningful, how beat they can get their students to listen to them and even how to establish their authority in the class room. However, upon gaining the right perception the student teachers soon discover that practical reflection is a lens to the outside world that provides them a chance to question assumptions that are in most cases taken for granted (Brockbank and McGill, 2010).
Practical reflection for teachers calls for a lot of time management. This is because it calls for a continuous serious exploration of what they teach and what their students and learn coupled with their individual tasks. Some of these investigations demand that they read relevant literature and produce written summaries. It is through such activities that the teachers can realize the serious gaps in their profession. They can do some of these investigations by talking to their colleagues and relating their findings with set standards of practice. This means that they must plan their approach in order to ensure that they manage their time well and get sound results (Boud and Walker, 2012).
Teachers’ prior believes affect their reflection in a number of ways. Their beliefs in the first place influence their training. Studies that have evaluated the effect of teacher training on their cognition have often reported that the expected transfer from course input to practice is hugely impacted by the prior knowledge of teachers as well as their beliefs (Cabaroglu and Roberts, 2000; Freeman, 1993; Sendan and Roberts, 1998). This means that teachers tend to ake responses on innovations fundamentally in ways that are related to their preconceived believes, practices and values. Consequently, if teachers are encouraged to have a reflection of their current beliefs they would be more receptive to new perspectives and would even modify their beliefs in a manner that is consistent with their developing perceptions..
2.13 Reflection and Charliotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching
Charliotte Danielson’s framework for teaching points out elements of a teacher’s responsibilities that have been subjected to documentation via empirical undertakings and theoretical research and have been discovered to promote augmented learning of students. These responsibilities outlined in the framework serve the same purpose of practical reflection; they are out to define what should be known to teachers and what they are supposed to do as they exercise their profession (Bell and Day, 2010).
For teachers to effectively guide students in learning they must completely understand the subjects they have to teach. They must know the underlying skills and concepts relevant to their disciplines and those that are considered peripheral. Teachers must be made aware of how the education system has evolved into the current century integrating phenomena like cultural and global awareness (Day, 2010). Effective teachers must be in a position to com prehend the internal relationships in the various subjects they teach. Through reflection they would also be in a position to know the characteristic student misconceptions and work to disperse them. However, it is not adequate for teachers to have knowledge of their disciplines. In order to support the comprehension of their students’ teachers must familiarize themselves with specific pedagogical approaches that are best suited for their disciplines (Cunliffe, 2002).[quix id='70' name='order now banner 4']
Danielson’s teaching framework points out elements of teachers’ responsibilities which empirical studies have found to be advancing improved learning outcomes for students. Given that teaching is an activity that is extremely complex, Danielson’s teaching framework comes in handy to lay out the numerous competence areas where professional teachers are required to horn their expertise. Danielson has divided the complex teaching activity into 22 elements that have been grouped into four teaching responsibility domains which include; preparation and planning, class room environment, instruction and professional responsibility (Anderson, 2011; Carper, 2010).
2.13.1 Planning and Preparation
The components of this domain outline how teachers organize the information that they are supposed to impart to their students during the learning process. It deals with the manner in which teachers design their instructions. This includes evaluating the learning of their students, portraying knowledge of pedagogy and its content, exhibit knowledge of resources, portray knowledge of their students and select instructional objectives (Carr et al., 2007)..
2.13.2 The Class room Environment
The Domain 2 components are made up of non instructional class room interactions. They include organization of the physical space, the creation of a setting full of rapport and respect amongst students and the teacher, building a learning culture, running procedures of the class room and controlling the behavior of students.
Domain 3 components constitute the teaching fundamental which is about engaging students in a learning contest. It includes precise and clear communication, the employment of questions and discussion methods, engage students in their learning, provide students with feedback, and portray accountability and flexibility (Campbell et al., 2011).
2.13.4 Professional Responsibilities
Domain 4 components are made up of numerous responsibilities held by teachers outside their class rooms. They include exhibiting professionalism, teaching reflection, continuous professional development, maintenance of accurate records, making contributions to their schools and districts and communicating with their families. Teachers that exhibit these competencies are held in high esteem by their fellow teachers and administrators and are perceived to be real professionals.
A professional practice framework is advantageous because it provides the teaching profession a framework for teaching shard vocabulary in ways that communicate excellence. For teachers who are novice this framework offers a pathway to excellence through the provision of the 22 crucial elements that make up professional practice. The teaching framework also establishes a platform for discussions amongst teachers that serve to horn their focus on continuous professional development. This framework also communicates to the entire community the competitive elements that are required for one to be a successful teacher (Cutler et al., 2013).[quix id='78' name='order now banner 9 academic admission essays']
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