Reflective Practice in Education and Training
eBook - ePub

Reflective Practice in Education and Training

Jodi Roffey- Barentsen,Richard Malthouse

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eBook - ePub

Reflective Practice in Education and Training

Jodi Roffey- Barentsen,Richard Malthouse

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This is a practical guide to reflective practice for teachers and trainee teachers in the FE and skills sector. Reflective practice is a key element of teaching and this comprehensive and accessible guide introduces and explains this area of practice for trainee and new teachers. It asks ?what is reflective practice?? and includes an exclamation of the processes of reflection and tips on reflective writing.

Many trainees and new teachers need support in reflective practice. Written for all those working towards QTLS, this text gives practical guidance on how to become a reflective practitioner and examines how this relates directly to teaching in the FE and skills sector, and how reflection can benefit teaching. This second edition includes new chapters on ?reflective teaching and learning? and ?reflection-re-action?, a new Theory Focus feature.

Richard Malthouse has extensive knowledge of education and training in the UK and abroad. He currently works in training design and performance needs analysis for a large law enforcement agency. Alongside this, Richard is the director of a successful company offering coaching to individuals. Richard is a Doctor of Education and a Fellow of the Institute of Learning.

Jodi Roffey-Barentsen is Programme Manager of the BA (Hons) in Education and the Foundation Degree in Learing Support at Farnborough College of Technology and is involved in a range of initial teacher training programmes. Jodi also works as a consultant for the Institute of Learning. Jodi is a Doctor of Education and a fellow of the Institute for Learning.

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What is reflection?

By the end of this chapter you will be able to:
  • distinguish between different approaches to reflection;
  • explain the difference between common sense reflection, reflective practice and professional reflective practice;
  • consider the use of the models that are discussed for your own practice.
Professional Standards
This chapter relates to the following Professional Standards.
Professional Values:
AS 4 Reflection and evaluation of their own practice and their continuing professional development as teachers.
Professional Knowledge and Understanding:
AK 4.3 Ways to reflect, evaluate and use research to develop own practice, and to share good practice with others.
Professional Practice:
AP 4.2 Reflect on and demonstrate commitment to improvement of own personal and teaching skills through regular evaluation and use of feedback.
AP 4.3 Share good practice with others and engage in continuing professional development through reflection, evaluation and the appropriate use of research.


Those teaching in education and training partake in and reflect on their professional development. Most of us engage in CPD as we attend training days or sessions, follow a short course or even embark on a longer programme, such as a degree course or a Masters degree in our specialist subject area. We need to attend these events but we also need to reflect on them. The need for personal reflection on skills, knowledge and attitudes, as well as the identification of personal values, organisational skills, critical thinking and personal change management, has increased. This is achieved through a process called reflective practice, or more precisely, professional reflective practice, a term which is explained later in this chapter.

Theories of reflection and reflective practice

Let’s look at reflection and reflective practice in more detail and consider some of the concepts and underpinning theories in relation to the topic. First of all, can it be defined?


What do you understand by the term ‘reflection’? How would you define it?
Different authors and theorists have offered a range of definitions. These definitions sometimes seem similar and some appear to overlap. For the purpose of this book, we will distinguish between three approaches to reflection. Firstly, we discuss ‘common sense reflecting’, which is familiar to us all as being the way in which we think about and mull over something after, for example, delivering a lesson. Secondly, we consider the discipline of thinking about something in a more ordered fashion: we will call this ‘reflective practice’. In this part of the chapter we will discuss the works of a number of theorists who have been highly influential in this area. Thirdly, we link reflective practice to CPD. This is called professional reflective practice. The concept of professional reflective practice is illustrated by a practical model, the professional reflective practice cycle, which consists of four parts. These four parts, experience, reflection, professional practice and action plan, are described in detail later. Lastly, as you engage in professional reflective practice, you may encounter issues such as problem-solving, personal values, organisational skills, critical thinking and personal change management. They are examples of some of the fundamental skills required by a teacher and will be considered in general terms.

Common sense reflecting

This first approach to reflection is described by Moon (2004, page 82) as the common sense view of reflection, which uses the everyday meaning of the verb ‘to reflect’. She explains that reflection is akin to thinking but with more added to this (page 82). It is the thoughts that occur to us during our day-to-day living, perhaps following a difficult lesson or a particularly challenging student. It is the thoughts we cannot put down after a difficult encounter with an aggressive student or the muses we choose to have when we feel we could do better and try to work out exactly how. After these events, you may think about the situation in terms of what went well and what did not. You could consider the behaviour of the students or how well a particular exercise went. The word ‘reflection’ is used in this context to represent the type of reflection found within the image of a mirror. If you were to reflect upon something in this way, you may describe what happened, what you did, what others did in response and what you did after that, and then describe how you felt about it.
What this type of reflection lacks is the element of directed learning from the experience; this type of thinking is vague because the process lacks structure. If you wish to benefit from reflecting in any way, then a clear link has to be made from the past to the future. Arguably you improve your chances of doing better in the future by considering what you have done in the past and deciding what should be done differently. In other words, you need to look backwards to see the way forwards. This may sound obvious, but unless you think about what you have done, you may end up doing the same things again and again, never improving. If you wish to improve as a teacher, then what is required is a form of reflection that is more than just thinking about an experience for a while and then doing nothing more about it. To do it takes time and effort and you may not always like what you see. But not to do it would be a greater waste of your time and effort.

Dewey’s reflective thinking

In the first half of the twentieth century the philosopher and educationalist John Dewey introduced the concept of reflective thinking. His main interest was problem-solving. He observed that when you begin the process of thinking about something, it normally starts with a problem or a worrying or upsetting situation that cannot be resolved. As a result you are left with a feeling of uncertainty or unease and need to stop and take stock of the situation. At this stage you identify the exact nature of the problem, what it was you were attempting to do, what you actually did and what happened. As summarised by Loughran (1996, page 14):
Reflection is clearly purposeful because it aims at a conclusion. The purpose of reflecting is to untangle a problem or to make more sense of a puzzling situation; reflection involves working towards a better understanding of the problem and ways of solving it.
Reflective thinking is not always an easy or indeed a pleasant process because, as Hillier (2005, page 17) points out, we are actively challenging the comfortable, taken-for-granted parts of our professional selves. This is because reflective thinking forces us to be honest with ourselves. We end up asking questions such as, What did I do? Could I have done better? What did I not do that I possibly could? In essence we are leaving ourselves open to criticism by the most challenging of critics, namely ourselves. If we are totally honest, we are forced to admit that we don’t have all the answers, don’t always get it right and that we have more to learn.

Reflective practice: Schön

The second approach to reflection is referred to as reflective practice and was introduced by Donald Schön in 1983. Schön referred to what he called reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action refers to a person who is forced to start thinking on their feet as they find that what they are doing is not working as well as they had hoped. For example, if you are teaching a lesson that relies upon role-play and you find the class unwilling to cooperate, the lesson will fall apart very quickly. The reasons for this may be many and varied. However, you do not have the luxury of time to go into the whys and wherefores, because you have a lesson to teach and learning outcomes to cover. Instead you may decide to drop the idea of role-plays and adopt another approach. You could decide, for example, to use discussion, or provide verbal examples for the students to consider. What you have just done is reflection-in-action.
On the other hand, having achieved your learning outcomes by opting to do something other than role-plays, you find yourself with a few moments to spare following the lesson. As you reach for a cup of tea, you mull over what happened. You ask yourself why it was that the students were unwilling to perform the role-plays. Was it the make-up of the class, their general attitude to participation in the classroom, the classroom atmosphere or their confidence? On the other hand, was it something you said or did, and how come it has worked well before with other groups? Or was it perhaps because the learners had a week of role-plays in other lessons and were now bored with them? What you have done is an example of Schön’s refection-on-action. You are thinking about the experience after the event, not during it.


Think of an example where you have reflected in-action and also one for when you reflected on-action. Your self-evaluations after teaching may be helpful here.

Kolb’s four-stage model

Schön did not offer a model or structure for this form of reflective practice. However, in 1984, another theorist, David Kolb, introduced his four-stage model of learning. Kolb used what can be described as technical language when describing his model, using terms such as, concrete experience (doing it), reflective observation (reflecting on it), abstract conceptualisation (reading up on it) and active experimentation (planning the next stage). In the figure below, the language has been altered to offer a more accessible version of Kolb’s four-stage model of learning.
What does this mean for you? How does it work? As can be seen, the model comprises of four stages and it can be applied to any activity. The activity chosen here is teaching a lesson.
Do it You teach a lesson. Perhaps the lesson is assessed and so you can read the feedback.
Reflect on it You think about what went well, what went less well, what you did, what you didn’t do, the reasons for that, etc. You read the feedback. You identify some topics that require further attention.
Read up on it You attend your library, search the intranet, internet or speak to your tutor or your peers.
Plan the next stage Now you have acquainted yourself with the learning theory and suggested good practice you are able to plan how you will design and deliver your next teaching session.
Reece and Walker (2006, page 92) point out that the importance of this model is that it can be started at any stage, it combines reflection with experience and that once started, the cycle should be completed. This model can be very useful for people who are new to teaching. The reason for this is that it is clear, unambiguous and follows a logical progression. For example, if you had not taught a particular session before, it may be appropriate for you to start at the ‘read up on it’ stage; this would equip you with the knowledge necessary to teach the session. Next you would move to ‘plan the next stage’. This would be achieved by identifying your aims and objectives, identifying your methods of assessment, designing a lesson plan, making your personal lesson notes, ensuring you have the resources to hand, identifying the knowledge of the learners considering differentiation and choosing relevant teaching strategies. Next would be to ‘do it’ and then to ‘reflect on it’. But it does not finish there; reflective practice is an ongoing process where you always strive to do a little better on the next occasion. The day you believe it can’t get any better is probably the day to stop te...


  1. Cover Page
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Acknowledgements
  6. Foreword by Professor Mike Watts
  7. Introduction
  8. 1 What is reflection?
  9. 2 Why reflect?
  10. 3 Professional reflective practice – the process
  11. 4 A psycholateral approach to professional reflective practice
  12. 5 Types of continuing professional development
  13. 6 Levels of reflective writing
  14. 7 Reflective teaching and learning
  15. 8 Situated Reflective Practice
  16. Index
Estilos de citas para Reflective Practice in Education and Training

APA 6 Citation

Barentsen, J. R.-, & Malthouse, R. (2013). Reflective Practice in Education and Training (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications. Retrieved from (Original work published 2013)

Chicago Citation

Barentsen, Jodi Roffey-, and Richard Malthouse. (2013) 2013. Reflective Practice in Education and Training. 2nd ed. SAGE Publications.

Harvard Citation

Barentsen, J. R.- and Malthouse, R. (2013) Reflective Practice in Education and Training. 2nd edn. SAGE Publications. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Barentsen, Jodi Roffey-, and Richard Malthouse. Reflective Practice in Education and Training. 2nd ed. SAGE Publications, 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.