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Reflective Practice for Improved Facilitation

Reflective practice enables instructors to apply a systematic approach to improving their learning facilitation practice. It is an intentional way of looking at aspects of their practice, hypothesizing about bringing about change, and implementing the change and analyzing its impact in order to determine what they would replicate in the future and what they would change. It encourages them to reflect on the reasons for their decisions.

One can engage in reflective practice around any aspect of learning facilitation - an entire program, a course, an approach to a topic, an activity, or a way to get learners to learn a specific tool or skill.

Reflective practice is a cycle that one can engage in at any point. Five main stages characterize the reflective practice cycle:

  1. Motivations
  2. Action Plan
  3. Anticipated Results
  4. Implementation
  5. Results

Analysis underlies each stage because at each stage the practitioner reflects on the "what, why, how, when" and writes up an analysis of each stage.

Some questions that can guide the process are:

Motivations

  1. Describe the focus of the reflective practice. Is it a specific topic or learning activity? It may be a comment from a learner evaluation.
  2. Describe the focus of the reflective practice by providing the context.
  3. Explain the motivation in wanting to bring about a change - where is there dissatisfaction? What are the implications? For whom?

Action Plan

  1. Provide the plan of action, describing the changes that will be made
  2. Indicate why this course of action has been chosen? Are there any resources/research/advice from others that are guiding the direction of the plan of action?
  3. Describe when and how the changes will be implemented.

Anticipated results

  1. What is the anticipated result?
  2. Why?
  3. What is the instructor's response to this?

Implementation

  1. Try out the new approach
  2. Describe what happens
  3. Indicate the instructor's reaction

Results

  1. Describe the results - did things happen as anticipated? Were there surprises? Good? Bad?
  2. What should be done differently next time? What aspects of the new approach should be adopted or rejected?
  3. Indicate the conclusions and next steps

The cycle starts over with new motivations, a new action plan, the anticipated results, implementation, and results.

Most instructors engage in reflective practice without being consciously aware of their actions. The above-mentioned process describes a way of intentionally reflecting on action research that is focused on an area of teaching in a specific discipline.

On a final note, the reflective process described here is a preliminary step that not only can start instructors on the path to reflective teaching practices but can also provide a preliminary step to developing an article that can contribute to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL). Reflective practice activities can also be written up and published in peer-reviewed journals.