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Becoming a reflective educational professional : an interpretative phenomenological analysis of students' experiences

Marica, A. (2015) Becoming a reflective educational professional : an interpretative phenomenological analysis of students' experiences.

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Abstract:Developing the ability to reflect is an important goal in higher vocational education. This goal is mentioned in the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (European Commission, 2008) that describes the qualifications for the several educational levels. For higher vocational education it states that students should be able to review and improve their own achievements and that of others. Students are more and more encouraged to examine how they succeeded or failed or improved on a task or set goals for future work and to make this knowledge public and open to scrutiny through a portfolio (Lyons, Hyland, & Ryan, 2002; Klenowski, 2002). In this process of professionalization the role of reflection is recognized as being important, it is supposed to have a positive influence on self-knowledge (Procee, 2006), and on the ability to steer one’s own development. In many teacher education programs reflection has become one of the essential goals (Korthagen & Vasalos, 2005), while portfolio’s are considered tools that stimulate and promote reflection (Mansvelder-Longayroux, Beijaard & Verloop, 2007). This phenomenological study aimed at gaining understanding of the experiences of students engaged in reflective activities in an educational setting. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five students of which four interviews were included in the present study. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the interviews and three super-ordinate themes were identified. The first describes how the reflection process is conceptalized, the second detailes the experiences of being engaged in educational reflective activities, the third describes what opportunities and resources students need when learning to reflect. Existing literature on reflection in education was utilised in order to shed light on the results, and in order to clarify the material. The findings reveal a dynamic experience, full of conflicts, which can be understood as a the start of a learning proces. Being engaged in challenging reflective activities students go through periods of self-deception, not knowing how to continue or where to start. This leads to feelings of being de-skilled. A important finding was that participants have mixed feelings about structured reflection. Different styles seemed to be in conflict, to reflect right according a given model competes with the desire to reflect on ones own way. Consideration therefore needs to be given to the compulsary structures of reflective approaches in educational settings. The significance of the study include a recommendation for awareness building on the difficulty of learning reflection, a focus on support and also ensuring that mentors (or teachers) are familiar with difficulties students’ run into when they get engaged in reflective activities.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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