Reflective practice has also been defined in terms of action research. Action research, in turn, is defined as a tool of curriculum development consisting of continuous feedback that targets specific problems in a particular school setting (Hopkins & Antes, 1990). As such, it has become a standard concept in teacher education programs. The teacher educator as researcher and role model encourages students to put theories they've learned into practice in their classrooms. The students bring reports of their field experiences to class and analyze their teaching strategies with their mentors and colleagues. This collaborative model of reflective practice enriches students' personal reflections on their work and provides students with suggestions from peers on how to refine their teaching practices (Syrjala, 1996).
At the level of in-service teaching, studies have shown that critical reflection upon experience continues to be an effective technique for professional development. Licklider's review of adult learning theory (1997) found that self-directness -- including self-learning from experience in natural settings -- is an important component of adult learning. Therefore, effective teacher professional development should involve more than occasional large-group sessions; it should include activities such as study teams and peer coaching in which teachers continuously examine their assumptions and practices.
A review of current research indicates that portfolio development has become a favorite tool used in pre-service teacher education (Antonek, et al, 1997; Hurst et al, 1998). Portfolios encourage beginning teachers to gather in one place significant artifacts representing their professional development. They assemble materials that document their competencies. Portfolios include a reflective component, for when the teacher decides which materials to include, he or she must reflect on which teaching practices worked well and why (Hurst et al, 1998). The portfolios are modified at points throughout a teacher's career, as the teacher continues to apply learning to practice.
Community engagement pedagogies, often called “service learning,” are ones that combine learning goals and community service in ways that can enhance both student growth and the common good. In the words of the , it is “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” Or, to quote Vanderbilt University’s Janet S. Eyler (winner of the 2003 Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service Learning) and Dwight E. Giles, Jr., it is
Service learning reflective essay
The students engaged in a number of activities during the reading workshop that allowed them to work with the success criteria, and receive teacher and peer descriptive feedback. Learning was scaffolded as the students worked towards achieving independence. The students also engaged in self-reflection to improve or revise their work.
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Each time you submit your reflective journal, think back over everything you've done since the last time. Which sources did you learn most from? Which did you learn least from, and why was that? (Did you know the material already?) Write a paragraph or two about the sources of your new learning.