Trainee Teachers' Experience of Reflection: Personal and social constructions of experience

McKenzie, Elizabeth May (2011). Trainee Teachers' Experience of Reflection: Personal and social constructions of experience. EdD thesis The Open University.



The research on which this thesis draws investigated trainee teachers' experience of reflection whilst undertaking Certificate in Education or Post-graduate Certificate in Education programmes for the Post-Compulsory sector.

It was based on a sequential, mixed methods design, employing a structured questionnaire and a semi-structured interview.

During the first stage of data collection, a sample of 127 trainee teachers completed a questionnaire about their experience of reflection and keeping a reflective journal. Findings indicated that the majority of trainees had a clear understanding of reflection and how it contributed to the development of their professional practice. A minority were less certain about the nature of reflective learning and its application to professional development. Most expressed agreement that keeping a reflective journal supported their professional learning. However, a substantial minority indicated difficulties with journal writing.

In the second stage of data collection, interview findings of 15 trainee teachers broadly supported the questionnaire findings about trainees' understanding of the purpose of reflection and its perceived value. However, analysis of the interview data indicated that there were individual differences in engagement with reflection, leading to some trainees experiencing difficulties, particularly with journal writing.

The thesis argues that reflective learning for professional development involves a personal-social dimension in trainees' mode of engagement and this is related to personal and social constructions of experience.

The thesis questions the use of the metaphor of 'reflection', arguing that the multiple reflections and changing images in a kaleidoscope offer a better analogy. The thesis proposes a theoretical model to integrate the content and process aspects of reflection, evident in previous models and typologies. This re-conceptualisation forms the basis for a practical application, the PERHAPS? model, which incorporates process and content and acknowledges different modes of engagement with reflection.

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