10 SES 07 E, Professional Knowledge & Teacher Identity: Self-efficacy
Teaching is a practice-based profession that requires teachers (and student teachers) to develop the ability to reflect upon the experiences and critical incidents they encounter during teaching practice. The way student teachers make sense of these experiences is problematic and has becoming an area of concentration for educational research since the ability to effectively reflect on practice forms an important aspect of initial teacher education across Europe (Gillies, 2016). Students struggle to enact meaningful reflection due to the lack of a working model of reflection; insufficient understanding of the nature of reflection; or a lack of clarity regarding the depth of reflection required to facilitate improvements in practice. Many claims have been made for the promise of professional reflection regarding its’ ability to improve the quality and effectiveness of practice (Fook, et al., 2015). However, when professional reflection is done poorly, i.e. it is neither considered nor informed through sufficient care and attention being taken to ensure judgements are soundly based in terms of attention to wider reference-points, then reflection risks becoming ‘ritualistic’ (Moore 2004, p. 105), solipsistic navel-gazing, or an exercise in narcissistic self-affirmation (Gillies, 2016).
The concept of knowing involves a unique type of personal knowledge composed of objective knowledge, which interacts with the individual’s growing attention, perception and awareness of developing acts of practice and the subjective perspective on personal experience gained during practice (Mathewson Mitchell, 2013; Bonis, 2009). This perspective on knowing (and by extension reflection), acknowledges the dynamic nature of refection as both process and product. The main attributes of how students comes to ‘know’ and make sense during practice lies in personal experience, knowledge (epistemic, procedural, tacit, ethical etc.), and is shaped through personal perspectives. The ontological assumption underpinning this view of knowing through reflection is objective knowledge (logically constructed) and subjective knowledge (constructed inductively through reason). A practical question is how might initial teacher education facilitate students development as reflective practitioner? Answering this question is made difficult by the complex nature of the concept. Where do ITE tutors begin to untangle this complex, multifaceted and dynamic process? Often this begins with the use of personal narrative. This usually manifests itself within lesson plans through the evaluation of pupils’ learning and the evaluation of teaching sections of the plans. ITE students tend to compartmentalise their reflections around stimuli emergent from critical incidents or problems that occur within lessons rather than reflecting the positive aspects of the lesson i.e. learning gains by pupils or what they have learned about their own practice.
This apparent lack in students’ ability to view a lesson holistically is often compounded by other factors. Firstly, ITE students hold a range of personal epistemologies, which manifest within the beliefs and attitudes they hold towards what constitutes knowledge. This impacts upon the types of evidence they draw upon and what they perceive to be important within the lesson. Second, the timing of reflection impacts on the quality of reflection. For example, if a student reflects immediately after the lesson or some time after at the end of the day can impact on the quality of the reflection
The aim of this study is to explore how student teachers engage with and develops reflective practice as part of their initial teacher education programme. The research closely aligns with the aspirations of the recent review of initial teacher education entitled Teaching Scotland’s Future (Scottish Government, 2011) and the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s requirement for student teachers to demonstrate their ability to engage in reflective practice and practitioner enquiry into practice as part of their initial teacher education (GTCS 2012).
Bonis, S. A. (2009). Knowing in nursing: a concept analysis. Journal of advanced nursing, 65 (6), 1328-1341. Fook, J., Collington, V., Ross, F., Ruch, G., & West, L. (Eds.). (2015). Researching critical reflection: multidisciplinary perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge. Gillies, D. (2016) Visiting good company: Arendt and the development of the reflective practitioner, Journal of Educational Administration and History, 48 (2): 148-159. General Teaching Council of Scotland (2012). Standard for Registration. Available online: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf Last accessed 18th January 2017. Mathewson Mitchell, D. (2013). Thinking through practice: Exploring ways of knowing, understanding and representing the complexity of teaching. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 41 (4), 414-425. Moore, A., 2004. The good teacher. Abingdon: Routledge. Scottish Government. (2011). Teaching Scotland’s Future. Report of a Review of Teacher Education in Scotland [The Donaldson Review]. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government
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