Learning Journals as a tool to develop subject pedagogy- an initial review Simon Hoult Canterbury Christ Church University
The Christ Church context • Journal at heart of development and assessment process • Range of quality of reflections • Aim to develop quality of reflections across the programme • Own specific focus…can you identify a student teacher of geography by his/her journal? • i.e. Can/do Journals develop subject pedagogy?
Philosophies of Reflection Reflection is… …the elucidation of the education process and general understanding of human function. Dewey (1933)
Philosophies of Reflection Reflection is active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it Dewey (1933)
Philosophies of Reflection …the kind of thinking that consists in turning a subject over in the mind and giving it serious thought. Reflection is a chain of linked ideas that aim at a conclusion and is more than a stream consciousness. Dewey (1933)
The place of reflection in learning When situations are complex and ambiguous the ability to “simply contemplate a situation without, for the moment trying to come to a conclusion about it, is an essential learning aid”. Claxton (1999) We literally write our own stories, simultaneously incorporating our own future as we reconstruct our past. Cooper (1991)
Reflection- in summary • Lies in the process of learning and the representation of learning • How do we support student understanding of this dual role? • To be of significance we have to regard reflection as implying purpose • How do we support students’ purposeful /focussed reflection? • Involves complicated mental processing of issues for which there is no obvious solution • How do we maintain student motivation to reflect?
The place of reflection in learning Dewey’s approach to reflection and reflective thinking are the generation of the process through 'perplexity’, a sense of goal directedness and the notion of testing or evaluation, which brings Dewey’s approach into the realms of experiential learning (Jaworski, 1993).
Kolb’s Learning Cycle (as simplified by Moon) Concrete experiencing an experience Active experimentation Reflective Observation Abstract conceptualising How do we ensure reflections are put into action?
Developing the ideas of Dewey… The key to good quality reflection is ‘the controlled use of sentiency, memory and imagination… Hullfish and Smith (1961) How do we support students to unlock/ direct their feelings to promote professional based reflection?
The reflective process in context • New perspectives on • experience • Change in behaviour • Readiness for • application • Commitment to action • Return to experience • Attend to feelings • Utilise positive feelings • Remove obstructive feelings • Re-Evaluate experience • Behaviour • Ideas • feelings Boud, Keogh and Walker (1989, p36)
Donald Schön: The Reflective Practitioner • Practitioners draw on context specific, theories in use’ more than than espoused theories. • Should we expect reference to overt theoretical concepts in journal reflections? • Reflection on action occurs after action via informing future actions and theory building. • Is target setting the best way to develop future actions and theory building following reflection?
The Christ Church Learning Journal • Initial Statements • Weekly entries- • areas for development linked to school based programme • mentor comments • achievements and evidence (QTS Stds.) • Reflection 2)Statements of Development, Concluding Statements and Meta-reflections 3) Audit of progress towards QTS All supported through weekly mentor meeting, subject and prof. tutor tutorials and formal/ informal peer support
The weekly process… Key achievements Targets this week Achievements and evidence Standards addressed Specific areas for development School based development programme Reflection Mentor comment
The weekly process…reflection • Reflection Please use the space below to reflect on issues that particularly concern or interest you at the moment. You might use one of the headings below to guide you. • What have been the most significant events this week? Why? • What have you learned? How did this learning take place? How has this helped your development? • What further questions has this prompted you to ask? • What theoretical concepts have influenced your learning this week? How have these been illustrated in school? What are the strengths and weaknesses?
The termly process…Meta-reflection • Thinking about using this journal. • In what ways has completing this journal helped you learn? • What would make it better for you? • Do you find it useful to reconsidering reflective comments you have made in the past? • What further guidance would you like from the partnership?
The termly process… Meta-reflection • Please select a reflection that you have written previously. • What are your perspectives on that issue now? • What do you feel you have learned from this? • What questions has this prompted you to ask?
The termly process…Target setting • Reflection • In the light of your development and reflections on this through journal entries, statements of development, reviewing a journal entry and going through the process of the interim assessment and RoD1 assessment, what are the main issues for you to develop in the coming term and why?
Weekly Student Reflections (1) pupils do a self assessment to assess how confident and comfortable they feel about what has been taught in the lessons…A4L lets pupils identify their strengths and weaknesses. They have to set a geographical target for themselves…this is a good way for me to see how well I have taught the pupils and what I may have to change… (Student A w/b 5.12.05)
Weekly Student Reflections (2) It is dept. policy that pupils’ books are marked at the end of term… this does not allow problems to be resolved and they do not get any feedback be it encouragement or corrections until the beginning of term. (Student A w/b 5.12.05)
Weekly Student Reflections (3) I used ICT with a yr.10 class studying site, situation and sustainable development in Ashford. My own Uni. Dissertation was on… this (and) enabled me to bring a large amount of my own material and knowledge to the lesson. The ICT enabled me to give pupils almost a tour of the site to help build a picture in their minds of what Ashford is doing to create sustainable developments. (Student B w/b 5.12.05)
Weekly Student Reflections (4) I think the lessons went well because they involved several different tasks and moved along at a good pace…varying the learning activities does seem like a very important strategy to maintain good behaviour and improve learning. this (is) a different experience to a ‘normal’ lesson…pupils are very much in charge of their own learning when using ICT in a lesson. (Student C w/b 5.12.05)
Weekly Student Reflections (5) I am trying to stretch them in line with the zone of proximal development but it seems some pupils just don’t want to be stretched. (Student D w/b 12.12.05)
Statements of Development (1) Teaching geography at all key stages has made me revise geographical concepts … I am enjoying teaching KS5 because it tests my subject knowledge and I have to research… (Student A Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (2) I was advised to praise the pupils for anything good…I tried this and the reaction was v. positive. A lot of the time pupils misbehave because they just want attention… A way is to either give praise so the pupil get’s attention in a constructive way or to give instruction and walk away… (Student A Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (3) …it has taught me a lot not only about the importance of the role of the teacher, but also…about myself. …there is always something new to learn. I have learned new topic areas such as weather and climate…I now know more about the subject which in turn has boosted my confidence in my teaching ability. (Student B Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (4) churning out of lesson plans (is) very interesting…trying to keep thinking of new and fun ways to teach are very challenging… Why can children behave one lesson and be very poorly behaved the next? Is it the teacher, the children or an external factor? I think it is probably a combination of factors (Student C Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (5) I’m finding the AEN side of things most interesting… they really want to learn and show great application to learning. I get great satisfaction out of working with them and seeing them progress. My views on education have changed… It is nice to follow high level debate regarding education and have a deeper level of engagement through academic learning and practical experience. (Student D Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (6) There have been some good experiences and some not-so-good (I’m reluctant to say ‘bad’ because I feel they have been part of my learning curve) experiences... The time spent observing allowed me to construct my own opinions about what strategies worked and to develop my own method of teaching. (Student E Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (7) I found behaviour for learning and assessment for learning invaluable in my subject area. Clear instructions and LOs have helped me to focus students and make the teaching and learning in their classes purposeful. I have also aimed to make my lessons as fun and interactive as possible using a variety of different resources. I have used the IWB where appropriate and also provide kinaesthetic tasks for starters. In order to do this I have found lesson plans invaluable… (Student E Dec 2005)
Statements of Development (8) The use of theory from college to practice to reflection has become part of my daily routine and I feel is a completely cyclical process that is very important for me to progress from a teacher to an effective teacher. Overall it has been challenging and the learning curve steep leading to reflection followed by a re-think of my approach. (Student E Dec 2005)
Initial thoughts (1) • Only 3 months of course completed… • Varied quality of reflections • Suggest need for tutor/mentor dialogue not comment to move thinking deeper • Some subject specific- many not • Suggest subject tasks to include specific reflections to undertake a point in the programme • Deciding the focus for reflection?
Initial thoughts (2) • Vocabulary to express complexity? • Theoretical expectations? • Moving the reflection into informing future practice? • Meta-reflection- a developmental process?
Back to the questions… • How do we support student understanding of this dual role? (learning as well as representing learning) • How do we support students’ purposeful / focussed reflection? • How do we maintain student motivation to reflect? • How do we support students to unlock/ direct their feelings to promote professional based reflection? • Should we expect reference to overt theoretical concepts in journal reflections? • Is target setting the best way to develop future actions and theory building following reflection?
References • Boud,D. Keogh, R. Walker,D. (1989) Promoting Reflection in Learning: a model. In ‘Reflection; Turning experience into learning.’ Boud, Keogh and Walker (eds). London, Kogan Page. • Boud,D. Cohen, R. and Walker,D. (eds) (1993) Using Experience for Learning. London, Kogan Page. • Claxton, G. (1999) Wise up; The challenge of life long learning. London, Blooms bury. • Cooper,J. (1991) Telling our own stories, in Stories Lives Tell, Narrative and dialogue in education, Whitehead, C. and .Noddings, N. (eds) New York, Teachers College Press.
References II Moon,J. (1999) Learning Journals; A handbook for academics, students and professional development. London, Kogan-Page. Moon, J. (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. Abingdon. Kogan Page. Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. London, Jossey-Bass. Schön, D. (1987) Educating the Reflective Practitioner. London, Jossey-Bass.