Reflective Practice

“Reflective practice is a dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skillful.” – Donald Schon

Reflective practice is a commitment on the part of the instructor to engage in the continuous improvement and refinement of teaching.

Reflective Practice is a well-established component of effective teaching (Mezirow, 1991). It requires a commitment on the part of the instructor to question the following:

  • Beliefs (the best way to learn this content is…)
  • Assumptions (students who are not engaged are not interested in the subject matter)
  • Judgments (certain types of students have certain levels of ability)
  • Emotions (certain stimuli produce certain feelings in the instructor)
  • Actions and their consequences (as a result of certain instructor actions, the students may experience certain consequences)

Reflective Practice is accomplished through the constant asking of questions about teaching and learning as experienced during the course. Some examples are:

  • Have I established a positive classroom climate?
  • Do my students feel that they are part of the classroom community?
  • Are my students given frequent, timely, positive and encouraging feedback?
  • Have I ensured opportunities for students’ success?
  • Have I helped my students find personal meaning and value in the material?
  • Have I generated student interest and enjoyment of the subject matter?
  • Have I tried to use variety in my instructional techniques?
  • Would I want to be a student in my class?

The questions asked of the self in Reflective Practice are rhetorical, emergent and personal. They are designed to alter the instructor’s perspective, supporting continuous improvement and development.

Further Reading

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.

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