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Layers of Reflective Learning in Teacher Action Research. Dr. Joseph M. Shosh, Moravian College Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research International Conference York St. John University York, UK 2 June 2011.

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Layers of reflective learning in teacher action research

Layers of Reflective Learning in Teacher Action Research

Dr. Joseph M. Shosh, Moravian College

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Value and Virtue in Practice-Based Research International Conference

York St. John University York, UK 2 June 2011

Moravian college founded 1742
Moravian Collegefounded 1742

• 6th oldest institution of higher learning in USA

• First-tier nationally ranked liberal arts college

• 1,600 full-time residential students

• Comenius Center graduate programs in

business, education, and healthcare

Research question
Research Question:

How do teachers gathering classroom data in an action research context reflect on their action, identify what they’ve learned through layers of reflection, and evaluate their effectiveness as reflective practitioners?

Research study participants
Research Study Participants:

• 20 practicing K-12 teachers

• ranging in age from 26 to 64 (median 33)

• 80% female

• 70% secondary school teachers (7-12)

• Master of Education degree candidates

• White, middle class

Reflective practice seminar
Reflective Practice Seminar

  • “The practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation” (Schön 1983, p. 68).

Reflective assignments
Reflective Assignments

1. Researcher Stance & Trustworthiness Statement Draft

2. Reflective Memo: John Dewey and My Study

3. Literature Review Draft

4. Reflective Memo: Paulo Freire and My Study

5. Methodological Memo: Mid-Study Data Assessment

• Observational Data

• Interview/ Survey Data

• Student Work

6. Reflective Memo: Lisa Delpit, et al. and My Study

7. Analytic Memo: Coding Index & Coding Graphic Organizer

8. Reflective Memo: Lev Vygotsky and My Study

9. Analytic Memo: Figurative Language Analysis

10. Analytic Memo: Preliminary Theme Statements

Teacher definition of reflective practice
Teacher Definition of Reflective Practice

Most valuable opportunities for reflection n 20
Most Valuable Opportunities for Reflection (N=20)

  • Writing (8): “I wrote up my observations of classes for my study. Even more reflection occurred when I re-read them and wrote memos relating my practice to Dewey, Freire, Vygotsky, and others!”

  • Discussing (7): “We had open and honest conversations about our practice with our colleagues. Discussing educational philosophy helped me analyze my data.”

  • Quiet Time (4): “I would just sit and think about my teaching and my students’ learning.”

  • Negative Case (1): “It seemed that opportunities for reflection were forced. Concern over research methods and assignments took time away from reflection.”

At its best conducting teacher action research is like
At its BEST, conducting teacher action research is LIKE…

going to a party

winning a level of Tetris

reading a new chapter in a novel

opening your eyes

taking a look in the mirror and seeing change

discovering money in your pocket over and over

listening to a symphony at Christmas

riding out a storm in an open field

making a significant contribution

being a mother

tuning an instrument

seeing my class/teaching as an outsider

starting a new chapter

unwrapping a mystery

climbing up flights of steps

renewing one's self

figuring out what happens in a riddle

learning by doing

putting lights on a Christmas tree

a student coming back after graduating and saying "thank you."

Metathemes 1
Metathemes (1)

  • To support student achievement, teachersprovide clear, focused, and developmentally appropriate direct instruction; help students to read required and self-selected texts in a variety of genre both actively and critically; and utilize a wide array of formative, summative, and authentic assessment devices.

  • To develop collaboration among learners, teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to speak and listen to one another via small group and partnered classroom discussions, literature and Socratic circles, and electronic media like blogs and wikis, ensuring the development of a community of learners that may extend beyond the classroom.

  • To differentiate instruction, teachers identify prior knowledge; consider cultural and functional literacy; provide a multiplicity of ways for students to exhibit what they know and are able to do; and employ the concept of scaffolding in a variety of individual, small group, whole-class, and extra-curricular settings.

  • To encourage active student engagement, teachers promote student self-expression; allow students to discuss and debate issues of personal and collective interest; promote student inquiry and project-based learning; ensure that students encounter meaningful success that builds confidence; and provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively in technology-rich instructional environments.

Metathemes 2
Metathemes (2)

  • To promote student ownership, teachers provide self-directed learning opportunities; help students make clear connections between in-school assignments and their out-of-school lives; provide meaningful choices for students to make within clearly established parameters; include opportunities for students to take on leadership roles and hold one another accountable for their learning.

  • To facilitate student metacognition, teachers model how and why to self-monitor reading comprehension; help students to set goals and monitor their progress in achieving those goals; and encourage students to track their own growth in learning over time.

  • Challenges teachers must face and address include ineffective district-sanctioned programs and instructional materials, lack of student background knowledge to meet course and grade-level objectives, insufficient time to complete the required curricular sequence, increasingly low student self-efficacy and self-confidence as students proceed through the intermediate-level and secondary school program of study, and limited support for integrating the use of electronic learning technologies.

Final self report of the effectiveness of the teacher action research process
Final Self-Report of the Effectivenessof the Teacher Action Research Process


Abstracts and Full Text PDF files of Action Research Reports at