Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thing 5: Reflective practice

I'm not managing very well to keep up with CPD23 (work! family!) but as I've almost finshed marking my portion of some reflective e-portfolios it seemed like a good time to blog about reflective practice. The first year students have to reflect on how their concept of Information Management has evolved through the module (that I co-teach). In case you are interested the criteria we mark to are: "Narrative clearly expresses how the student’s understanding of Information Management has evolved"; "Statements made in the narrative are substantiated by evidence"; "Presentation and organisation of portfolio"; "Quality, quantity and scope of evidence"; and "Spelling, grammar, syntax and reflective style."

We have a few assignments that are mainly about reflection, and also students always have to hand in a short individual reflection when they do any group work (that is actually a University requirement). Therefore one of the things we have to do is support the students in learning how to write reflectively, which is a hard thing to do (I mean writing reflectively is hard, but teaching it is hard too!).
At the Second Life educator's meeting last week this came up during our discussion, and a number of us agreed that a reaction from some students in the US as well as in the UK is (at least at the first year level) that it is challenging and they don't like it. So we know we have to get people into the habit of reflective writing, and provide guidance, we can't expect people just to do it (though of course there are also some people who do just do it).

My colleague Barbara Sen sets a reflective journal assignment as part of the Management module on our MA Librarianship course. The main post on reflective practice on the CPD23 blog has some excellent advice & readings, but I will add Barbara's powerpoint that she gave at LILAC last year Reflection: improving information literacy practice. Learning from the past, developing for the future, becoming a reflective practitioner and also the article (not open access, I think) Sen, B. (2010) "Reflective writing: a management skill", Library Management, 31 (1/2), 79 - 93.

Anyway all this is not saying much about my own reflective practice, except that since I am supposed to be teaching other people about it, I have to know what it is.  In terms of my teaching, I do always think about what I might have done differently and what I might do better next time. I don't think I ever do anything exactly the same twice running, because you can always see room for improvement: and of course every learner is different too.
It's probably best when I'm teaching collaboratively with someone I trust, because then you chew things over as you go along and get a different perspective, but with encouragement and you share the OMG moments as well. Obviously I aim to get the learners' perspective too. I suppose the most challenging reflective part is balancing these different perspectives with the desired outcomes for the session, class and programme to decide what to do next.

I think what I'm less good at is reflecting on my practice more broadly and worrying away at the bigger issues there. Also, I don't do that much reflective writing, although I do try to note down "improvements for next time" in teaching. One of the reasons I joined in with CPD23 was to do a bit more of this, including some things I might have got complacent about.
Being reflective about not keeping up with CPD23: at the end of the day I'm following CPD23 for my own benefit, and I can't see any point in beating myself up over not having "kept up to date" so far. The online presence and networks parts are issues where I do want to do something (to summarise, I have a lot of online presence, but it needs tidying up a bit). SoI think my "action" will still be to blog and take action when I feel alert and with some time to do something about it, rather than trying to get through the posts as quickly as possible.
The first photo was taken at the Creating Knowledge conference in Copenhagen in 2006 (it's not my handwriting, it must have been a break out group I was in). The second one is me reflected in a sculpture in Kristianstad when I was at another conference. I chose it over some more picturesque reflection pictures, because it had the "different perspective" in it. As you might guess, I just did a quick search through my photographs on "reflect".

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post Sheila! I am really glad you posted Barabara's powerpoint, it is proving extremely helpful with my budding attempts at reflective writing. I haven't got as far as Thing 5 yet, but I am sure whatever I post when I get there will be richer for having read both your post and the articles you suggest.