Disparate understandings of the nature, purpose and practices of reflection in teacher education
CITATION: Robinson, M. & Rousseau, N. 2018. Disparate understandings of the nature, purpose and practices of reflection in teacher education. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 8(1):a599, doi:10.4102/sajce.v8i1.599.
The original publication is available at https://sajce.co.za
Background: The concept of reflection is much used in teacher education in many parts of the world, including in South African teacher education policy. However, the notion of reflection is often loosely defined, with differing understandings of its nature, purpose and curriculum implications. Aim: This article explores how teacher educators and student teachers understood and implemented the notion of reflection in their teacher education programmes. Setting: The research took place as a multisite case study at four South African universities offering the Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase). Methods: Interviews were conducted with 24 senior students and 8 teacher educators. Results: The study revealed disparate views by both teacher educators and student teachers of the nature, purpose and practices of reflective practice and largely tacit understandings of the role of reflection in teacher education. For most interviewees, the emphasis of reflection lay within a technical rational approach of improving teaching rather than a critical approach of locating education within a wider social context. Against the background of the many challenges in South African schooling, we argue that critical reflection is a means to encourage student teachers to become more independent and socially committed teachers. Conclusion: We present a case for the concept and practices of reflection to be more purposefully explored by teacher educators, thereby contributing towards continued agency and transformation in education.