True Thinking or Cosy Chats? Reflective Talk in Language Teacher Education Fiona Farr University of Limerick
Overview • Theoretical discussion • The LTE context • Spoken and on-line corpus data: what they tell us • The problem of interpretation • Where to next: shape up or ship out?
Theoretical Discussion • Reflective practice (Dewey 1933, 1993; Schön 1991) • Difficult to define (Mena Marcos, Sánchez, Tillema 2008) • Difficulties with reflective practice (Brookfield 1995, Jay and Johnson 2002, Akbari 2007)
The LTE Context • Postgraduate students in ELT/languages • Practical TP component as part of one-year programmes • No experience up to 10 years experience • Various spoken/written/online tasks to promote reflective practice • Collected and stored electronically as corpus data • Electronically and manually investigated for quantity and quality of reflection
Results: Participation Face to Face TP Feedback: Tutors 63.57% STs 36.43% Group Dis: Mentor 19.9% STs 80.1% On-line Chat: Mentor 25.75% STs 74.25% Discussion Fora: Mentor 10.15% STs 89.85%
Results: Interactivity(using Poos and Simpson 2002) Face to Face TP Feedback: 70.45 turns per 1000 words – highly interactive Group Dis: 73 turns per 1000 words – highly interactive On-line Chat: 12.5 turns per 1000 words – mixture of monologic and interactive Discussion Fora: 62 turns per 1000 words – highly interactive
Results: Frequency List Indicators of Reflection(Farr & Riordan forthcoming) In the top 10 most frequent words in each of the following differentiated categories: • Verbs:THINK, KNOW, WANT, NEED, FEEL, TRY, LIKE, FIND, SEEM, MEAN • Nouns:PROBLEM, FACT, DIFFICULTY, PRESSURE, EFFORT, MISTAKE, POSSIBILITY, NEED, FUN, TROUBLE
Adverbs:VERY, BIT, ACTUALLY, MAYBE, REALLY, KIND OF, LIKE, SORT OF, PROBABLY, QUITE • Adjectives:GOOD, SURE, DIFFICULT, BETTER, RIGHT, FINE, IMPORTANT, NICE, INTERESTING, HAPPY
Results: feelBlogs and TP Diaries (56 occurrences) Emotional states: comfortable, sympathetic, positive, happy, sense of belonging, successful, at ease, self assured guilty, frustrated, pressure, stressed, apprehensive, bad, left out
Future-oriented action I feel I will be able to…. I feel I should offer….
Results: needBlogs and TP Diaries (44 occurrences) I needto (29 occurrences): work, think, tailor, prepare, plan, look, take, increase, include, give, explain, evaluate, do, discipline, cover, comply, be, ask, improve, allow
Results: Qualitative Extracts Professional Paul Introduction: emotional state and some descriptive narrative “At the end of week 5 I feel I am really becoming at ease standing in front of my classes and I feel much less stressed and on edge than I did during the first few weeks.”
Outline of organisational structure of the reflections “I want to reflect on a number of things. Firstly I know I need to increase my with-it-ness in class in relation to my time management. The second point for reflection is around the topic of classroom management. And the last topic for on-going reflection is the danger of complacency creeping into my planning and preparation for class disguised as a positive feeling of ease with my colleagues/students.”
Themed reflections: descriptive narrative, evaluation, future-oriented action plans “Time Management: It tends to be something that still slips by without me noticing… I tend not to be too concerned with it.…. However this is something easily remedied. I need to discipline myself to look more often at my watch and be aware of my point in the lesson at any given time. It is nonetheless important to me as a well-timed lesson that does not feel rushed and is brought to conclusion in an orderly manner speaks volumes for a teacher’s professionalism.”
Emotional Emma Emotional state, some descriptive narrative, more emotions and short vague future-oriented action plans “The past few days have been rather tiring and quite challenging. However, I am beginning to feel more comfortable in the school and I think that I have met all of the other staff members now…I was overjoyed that my first day had gone so well and welcomed the last class of the day with enthusiasm….
“The incidents with the 5th years have made me question many things such as my ability as a teacher. Also, am I really cut out for this kind of job? Is it because they see me as a pushover because I am a new teacher? Or is it that I don’t have the confidence to let them work together in case they get out of control? These are all questions I need to think about and try to find answers to.” “Perhaps in my next few classes when they are used to seeing me as their new teacher I can use different stages in order to prepare them to work effectively together.”
Systematic Sue Narrative description of each individual lesson in sequential order, followed by retrospective action orientation. “A few students found the verbs difficult and so maybe tuned out. I should have pre-taught the verbs necessary to complete the letter alone. Using the pictures also, a good knowledge of verbs was needed and so I told each group some verbs that could help them. I think I should have kept the pictures more simple and somehow connected the verbs from the letter with that of the pictures. This would have kept it simpler and more would have been retained.”
Conclusions 1 • Linguistic evidence that reflection is taking place (narration, stance, attitude) • Organised/random? • Depth of reflection? • Orientation: past/future? • Action implementation? • Follow-up/continuing themes?
Results: Interpretation in interactive dialogic TP reflections • Survey of TP students and recent students, and teacher educators involved in TP and feedback as tutors • Responses: TP students 26, Tutors 21 • Extract interpretation: 11 extracts from recordings of TP feedback
Tutor: What else did you do in your lesson that you felt good about? That you felt happy about? That you made a conscious effort to do? Interpretation (What is the message? What does this mean?): Evaluation (Is this an appropriate and acceptable way to convey the message? How would you feel if this was said to you?):
Results: Evaluation of Extracts • Sure, it's fine. However, if it were a one-sentence query, it would prompt a more broad-ranging reflection by the student. • I would feel that the tutor was being positive and had identified a good point in my lesson and was encouraging me to identify elements that I thought were good • Too many questions together, which one am I meant to answer? I'd deliver one question at a time but as I said above, I didn't like the first two. • It's okay. The word happy seems strange. Even when I am pleased with my performance, I would never describe my feeling as happy. That phrasing would annoy me and I would probably give a shorter answer.
Yes, i think it is entirely appropriate. I would feel good that this is being asked of me and I would feel it a valid question in TP feedback. • I would find it slightly confusing • I think if I had done more preparation and prepared differently then I would be annoyed by this as the tutor is not giving the student a chance to reply and is speaking accusingly. I think I would feel a bit intimidated. • It’s too impersonal. • Perhaps a little patronised if I felt that I hadn’t performed well in the lesson. Content if I knew I had taught well.
Conclusions 2 Interpretation dependent on: - student attributes/personality - student learning styles (internally referenced) - student evaluation of the quality of the lesson - relationship with the tutor - teaching experience - emotional involvement
General Conclusions • How well do students do it? • How well do we do it and evaluate it? • Can it be taught/supported better? • Does it have any effect on the practitioner or their students? • Reflective Practice is COMPLEX – is this a strength or a weakness? • Where to next?