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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reading: Doing reflective practice - a data-led way forward


This article makes the case for an approach to reflective practice (RP) that is both evidence-based and data-led. We argue that, while RP within the field of TESOL enjoys a relatively high level of acceptance and status (perhaps even an orthodoxy), it has little corresponding knowledge base that demonstrates how RP ‘gets done’. We propose a need for more concrete descriptions of RP in order for teachers and teacher educators to fully engage with its possibilities, and in order to establish a knowledge base for promoting and supporting research by and for practitioners. In this article, we focus on the approaches that might be adopted to promote data-led and evidence-based reflection. Such a data-led approach would encourage the use of professional data, alongside appropriate tools (presented below) as a means of aiding and promoting practitioner reflection. In the first part of the article, we briefly outline what we consider to be some of the main challenges facing RP; in the second, we put forward a number of tools and procedures for enhancing RP and making it collaborative, data-led, and evidence-based.

Walsh and Mann write:

We believe that there is a need for more emphasis on:
■ data in helping to make RP more concrete so that we can see how reflection ‘gets done’ in practice;
■ reflective tools that produce data that might act as evidence for practitioner reflection.

This central challenge can be broken down into four issues that need to be addressed, namely, that RP is:

■ insufficiently data-led;
■ heavily focused on the individual at the expense of collaborative options;
■ dominated by written forms of reflection;
■ lacking in detail about the nature and purposes of reflective tools (p.352).

Walsh, S. & Mann, S. (2015). Doing reflective practice: A data-led way forward. ELT Journal. 69(4), 351-362. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccv018

TESOL = Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

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