Academic writing often requires students to use authoritative sources, abstract language, and third person perspective – effectively removing themselves from the text. Reflective writing however, needs to resolve both objective and subjective points of view. Students need to be able to frame the issue or incident under discussion around their own world views and relate it to their first-hand experiences. Students often find this difficult to do.
Academic or professional reflection includes important strategies of relating and reasoning to analyse learning or professional practice. Not only do students need to relate the issue or incident to their own knowledge and experience in this area, but they also need to draw on evidence from key literature and relevant theory to reason and explain why something happened the way it did, why they hold particular views, and what other options there might be. This strategy focuses on developing students’ relating and reasoning skills from the 4Rs so they can show their learning in the discipline, and their meta-cognitive ability to analyse and understand how and where they ‘fit’ in this field.
- Provide students with a scenario related to their views on a particular issue that novices in this discipline may have experienced or know about. The scenario is designed to encourage problem-based learning so it should present some form of problem or social/cultural issue to address.
- Ask students to form groups and develop a response to the scenario through role-play. Students in each group assign character roles and spend a few minutes filling out a T-chart where they plan their role-play down the left hand column, and give reasons why they plan to respond in this way, down the right-hand column.
- Students conduct role-plays, then use the reflective prompts to analyse their group’s response to the scenario – sharing knowledge of past experiences and key literature that might help to explain their response or offer other possibilities.
- Come back together as a whole class and discuss the different responses, reasons, and ideas for follow-up information. Teacher input at this point can guide students to literature, theories or resources they may not have suggested.
Bain, J. D., Ballantyne, R., Mills, C., & Lester, N.C. (2002). Reflecting on practice: Student teachers’ perspectives. Flaxton: Post Pressed.
This pattern was initiated by Mary Ryan (Education).