Understanding the introduction of Reflective Practice at two initial teacher education institutes in India

Sarkar, Sumita (2023). Understanding the introduction of Reflective Practice at two initial teacher education institutes in India. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00015803


Following India’s declaration of the Right to Education (RTE) as law in 2010, primary school enrolments increased. However, low learning levels and attendance figures, especially among marginalised communities, showed that quality of learning is just as relevant as high enrolment. It became vital to have teachers who could make learning engaging and support pupils to construct their own knowledge in diverse circumstances.

The Government of India introduced a teacher education policy aimed at changing the dominant transmissive pedagogical practice to one that was constructivist, process-based and more student-centred, mediated by reflective practice in the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (NCTE, 2009). Reflective practice is recognised as an important construct for teachers and is embedded in teacher education frameworks globally. This study explores the readiness of a system of initial teacher education to foster reflective practice skills at two District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) offering a two-year Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.) programme. The data was generated from four student-teachers’ reflective practices, from lesson plans, class observations of practice teaching, supervision reviews, stimulated recall and more conventional qualitative interviews and conversations involving student-teachers, teacher-educators and experts. It was analysed using a tool developed from Ward and McCotter’s framework, adapted to the Indian situation. Processed and identified reflections were analysed with Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory and the activity theory.

This study confirms that reflective practice is an essential part of deliberate human action emerging from a desire to improve practice. It has important implications for designing and implementing policies aimed at change in pedagogy and teacher thinking, a complex undertaking in teacher education. Principals, teacher-educators and student-teachers must be involved in policy planning, as it is they who are responsible for the intended transformation, and this thesis demonstrates how their perceptions, values and socio-cultural beliefs are fundamental to its achievement.

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