Reflection and SoTL: Putting Reflection (Back) on Faculty Radar

Reflection and SoTL: Putting Reflection (Back) on Faculty Radar

Laura Zizka (Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland & HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, Switzerland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2212-7.ch006

Abstract

Reflection was introduced into educational institutions to encourage students to seek beyond the descriptive and simple response toward critical, deep thinking, and effectively make better choices. It is also an integral part of the structured inquiry of one's teaching through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Based on Dewey and Schön's foundation of reflection as linked to actions undertaken in apprentices' daily tasks, this chapter attempts to dispel common misconceptions related to reflection to show that reflection can and should be encouraged by all stakeholders in educational programs regardless of the discipline, level, or type of study. A Reflection Radar has been created to identify reflective practices in teaching and learning. The chapter concludes with how reflection through SoTL can and should be implemented as a solid, formative pedagogical tool at all levels of education and contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning for all educators.
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Introduction

Reflection has been effectively used in educational institutions to encourage students to seek beyond the descriptive and simple response to critical, deep thinking and, effectively, make better choices. It has been used as part of the structured inquiry of one’s teaching through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). SoTL has been defined as scholarship in education that involves new and critical interpretations of what is already known about teaching and learning (Healey, 2000). SoTL promotes a professional engagement with teaching and learning through formal, informal, or critically reflective inquiry to support teachers and students at various moments in their learning journeys (Kreber, 2015). A scholarly approach to teaching and learning through SoTL involves, amongst other elements, evaluating, reflecting, and, subsequently, disseminating these reflections on teaching and learning practices. Reflection and critical reflection that SoTL encourages leads to transformation in teaching and learning (Liu, 2015). Nonetheless, to effectively reflect on how SoTL is informing teaching practices, teachers must understand the theoretical underpinnings of reflection and critical reflection. According to Cranton (2011), “learning about teaching is to learn about supporting students’ learning of the discipline in the best possible way, or, in other words, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (p. 81).

Based on Dewey and Schön’s foundation of reflection as linked to specific actions which apprentices or workers undertake in their daily tasks, i.e., reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action, this chapter attempts to dispel common misconceptions related to reflection to show that reflection can and should be encouraged in all educational institutions regardless of the discipline, level, or type of study. Reflection through SoTL should be a positive opportunity for faculty developers and educators to inform their academic career development. This reflection offers opportunities in the classroom setting where critical thinking skills are addressed, and authentic learning is/should be taking place.

The purpose of this chapter is to encourage all educators and faculty developers to consider reflection as a significant tool to create authentic teaching and learning practices both inside and outside the classroom. In today’s educational system, it is important for students to transfer problems across educational and workplace contexts (Tanggaard, 2007) and address real-world problems. Real life problems rarely have a quick fix or simple answer as they necessarily entail the data or description the student has gathered (Rodgers, 2002) as well as their existing beliefs, heuristics, theory, knowledge, experience, etc. which each student will rely upon to decipher what the data or description is actually saying (Hebert, 2015). Learning then is transformed by the experiences in which the student participates (Miettinen, 2000). However, two students can look at the same event and see it differently, and different cultures may interpret the same stimulus in different ways (Miettinen, 2000). In many instances, there may not be one straightforward “right” answer but a need to have alternative ways of seeing things (Thompson & Pascal, 2012). Thus, “reflection itself becomes not a means to an end or something to perform, but rather a way of being in the world” (Hebert, 2015, p. 369).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reflection: Relating a concept to personal experience and applying it in practical situations.

Communities of Practice (CoPs): Groups of likeminded individuals who share a common goal or interest and work together to thrive.

Transformative Learning: The slow and infrequent process of changing one’s assumptions or beliefs.

Co-Sumers: Students co-create all elements of an effective course in collaboration with the teacher.

Wicked Problems: Problems that are ill-defined, unique, and dynamic with no answer and no clear solution.

Reflective Zombie: Students who learn how to repeat specific words or phrases to sound reflective when little reflection has actually occurred.

Critical Reflection: A deeper and more profound reflection based on active learning.

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