Reflective Teaching via a Problem Exploration-Teaching Adaptations-Resolution Cycle: A Mixed Methods Study of Preservice Teachers' Reflective Notes

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<ul><li><p>Article</p><p>Journal of Mixed Methods ResearchXX(X) 121</p><p> The Author(s) 2013Reprints and permissions:</p><p> 10.1177/1558689813509027</p><p></p><p>Reflective Teaching viaa Problem ExplorationTeaching AdaptationsResolution Cycle: A MixedMethods Study of PreserviceTeachers Reflective Notes</p><p>H. Emily Hayden1 and Ming Ming Chiu1</p><p>Abstract</p><p>We explore development of elementary preservice teachers reflective practices as they solvedproblems encountered while teaching in a reading clinic. Written reflections (N = 175) were col-lected across 8 weeks from 23 preservice teachers and analyzed to investigate relationshipsamong problem exploration, teaching adaptations, and problem resolution. In this sequentialmixed methods design, exploratory qualitative analysis revealed co-occurrence of problemexploration, instructional adaptation, and problem resolution. Confirmatory quantitative analysisfound significant relationships: preservice teachers who engaged in more problem explorationor description of instructional adaptations reported more problem resolutions the followingweek. Results support mixed method, longitudinal analyses to analyze preservice teachers writ-ten reflections, and use of written reflections with responsive feedback to develop preserviceteachers agency for problem solving.</p><p>Keywords</p><p>mixed methods, reflective practices, teacher preparation, reading instruction</p><p>A fundamental task for novice teachers, those engaged in practicum, clinical experiences, stu-</p><p>dent teaching, or the first years of practice (Berliner, 1988) is development of reflective prac-</p><p>tices that lead to adaptive expertise. Expertise in teaching requires skillful, fluid blending of</p><p>deep, varied content knowledge with extensive pedagogy (Bransford, Darling-Hammond, &amp;</p><p>LePage, 2005; Milner, 2010) while balancing unpredictability of people and environments.</p><p>Teachers who manage this balance are enacting reflective practice by combining thought and</p><p>analysis with action in practice (Schon, 1983) and reflective teachers become adaptive</p><p>experts (Hammerness et al., 2005, p. 359) who can identify instructional roadblocks, then gen-</p><p>erate and enact successful responses.</p><p>1State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA</p><p>Corresponding Author:</p><p>Emily Hayden, Graduate School of Education, Department of Learning and Instruction, University at Buffalo, 584</p><p>Christopher Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-1000, USA.</p><p>Email:</p><p> at GEORGIAN COURT UNIV on December 18, 2014mmr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>This sequential mixed methods study was conducted to improve understanding of what</p><p>novices reflect on in their teaching practice, and how their reflections might be connected to</p><p>instructional action. We analyzed structured reflections written by 23 novices after weekly</p><p>teaching in a reading clinic to identify the events these novices focused on for reflection and</p><p>the processes they applied during reflection on these events. Deweys (1916) pragmatic view of</p><p>knowledge as (a) connected inseparably to action, (b) centered on understanding relationships</p><p>between knowledge and action across different experiences, and (c) resulting in the combina-</p><p>tion of action with reflection on that action helped us understand the results as we explored two</p><p>specific questions:</p><p>1. What problems of teaching practice did novices describe in their reflections?</p><p>2. What relationships, if any, were present among three themes that emerged from qualitative</p><p>analysis of novices reflections: problem exploration, instructional adaptation, and problem</p><p>resolution?</p><p>Purpose of This Study</p><p>Our interest in exploring novices reflective practices developed after hearing a colleague assert</p><p>that novices would be unlikely to reflect deeply on any challenges in their teaching. We dis-</p><p>agreed. In fact, novices often acknowledge their need for developing reflective practices to</p><p>improve their readiness for teaching and seek out opportunities to build these habits of mind</p><p>(Loughran, 2006; Lunenberg &amp; Korthagen, 2005; Nilsson, 2009). In the initial exploratory</p><p>phase of this study, qualitative analysis of the written reflections aimed to explore novices</p><p>descriptions of problems. This phase revealed co-occurrences of reflection on problems and</p><p>instructional adaptations. A subsequent review of the literature revealed support for the reflec-</p><p>tion on problems and connection to action (Dewey, 1916) that emerged from this first phase of</p><p>analysis and we followed with a quantitative phase as confirmatory analysis for these co-</p><p>occurrences.</p><p>In our review of the literature, we did not find studies that had implemented this type of</p><p>analysis. Many used self-report scales and questionnaires to explore teachers perceptions of</p><p>pedagogical context, knowledge, dispositions, teaching, and learning (Giovannelli, 2003;</p><p>Kramarski &amp; Michalsky, 2009). These approaches provided solid quantitative data but lacked</p><p>rich descriptions and grounded perspectives of novices immersed in reflection on teaching.</p><p>Other studies provided case descriptions of individual teachers development of reflection and</p><p>adaptive expertise (Hayden, Rundell, &amp; Smyntek-Gworek, 2013; Jay &amp; Johnson, 2002; Lytle &amp;</p><p>Cochran-Smith, 1992; Orland-Barak &amp; Yinon, 2007; Ostorga, 2006) and teacher educators</p><p>reflective development (Pui-lan et al., 2005), but one analyzed data for only one lesson instead</p><p>of following teachers over time (Orland-Barak &amp; Yinon, 2007) and none connected that with</p><p>confirmatory analysis that measured relationships among variables. We aimed to fill this gap</p><p>by providing comprehensive, convergent analysis of the reflective data these novices provided.</p><p>Theoretical Frameworks</p><p>Deweys (1916) pragmatic views of knowledge as concerned with grasping the relationship</p><p>between our actions and their consequences (Biesta, 2010, p. 106, italics original) became our</p><p>theoretical lens. Understanding this relationship makes knowledge in one experience freely</p><p>available for use in other experiences (Dewey, 1916), but Dewey was careful to differentiate</p><p>between knowledge and habits, which are predispositions formed by prior experiences that</p><p>encourage the same response when presented with particular situations. Habit does not make</p><p>2 Journal of Mixed Methods Research XX(X)</p><p> at GEORGIAN COURT UNIV on December 18, 2014mmr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>allowance for change of conditions [and] . . . often leads astray (p. 359). Knowledge is more</p><p>powerful and can help us plan intelligently and direct our actions (Biesta, 2010, p. 107).</p><p>Knowledge for teaching serves as a tool for reorganizing instructional activity, combining</p><p>pedagogical theory with practice, and illuminating connections between what is known in one</p><p>content area with applications in another. Knowledge combined with action allows one to make</p><p>a systematic inspection of the situation . . . to identify and state the problem [and] develop sug-</p><p>gestions for addressing [it], for finding a way to act, and hence find out what the meaning of the</p><p>situation actually is. (Biesta, 2010, p. 109) Reflection at its basic level centers on this type of</p><p>exploration, asking questions, describing key elements, and evaluating current practice in light</p><p>of student responses (Hayden et al. 2013, p. 147). It is aimed at taking action (Korthagen &amp;</p><p>Kessels, 1999, Korthagen &amp; Vasalos, 2005) and is embodied in practice (Kinsella, 2007). And</p><p>since some of the most efficacious learning experiences for teachers at any level come when they</p><p>encounter puzzling, troubling or interesting phenomenon (Schon, 1983, p. 50) exploration of</p><p>these problems of practice can generate adaptations either initiated in the moment of teaching or</p><p>planned for future interactions (Duffy et al., 2008) and aimed toward resolution. This is the prac-</p><p>tice of adaptive experts (Gooddell, 2006; Hole &amp; McEntee, 1999; Tripp, 1993).</p><p>Literature Review</p><p>Language and Reflective Thought</p><p>Exploration of ideas through language shapes and drives learning and solidifies development of</p><p>schema (Vygotsky, 1978) and knowledge. Reiman (1999) linked intrapersonal language to</p><p>reflection and argued that a pedagogy of action/reflection and journaling can frame language</p><p>in new ways, promoting deeper understanding (p. 599). Writing to reflect focuses attention</p><p>and permits the symbolizing of meaningful experience (p. 604). Hacker, Keener, and Kircher</p><p>(2009) declared [p]roduction of thought is the core of writing (p. 155) and Wells (2003)</p><p>asserted that writing allows complex structures of meaning to be articulated more precisely</p><p>than . . . in everyday conversation (p. 55). But Reiman (1999) lamented the lack of solid con-</p><p>structs for analyzing written reflections and their usefulness and identified the need for scaffolds</p><p>or guided formats to provide continuous, ongoing connections between teaching action and</p><p>reflection. Reiman especially supported dialogic reflection, where teachers write for an audi-</p><p>ence (e.g., a teacher educator) and can expect a response. This method is useful for developing</p><p>teaching competencies for multiracial settings (Milner, 2010) supporting preservice teachers</p><p>(Farrell, 2007; Lam, 2011) and helping novices negotiate first years of practice (Tillman, 2003).</p><p>Learning Reflective Practices</p><p>Novices must learn ways adaptive experts link reflection and action, because reflective practice</p><p>is more than acquiring skill sets or possessing certain dispositions. It involves integrating spe-</p><p>cific thinking activities with analysis in order to develop new habits of mind. Korthagen and</p><p>Kessels (1999) outlined habits of reflection in their ALACT model, when a teaching Action is</p><p>followed by Looking back to reflect, Awareness expands by naming, questioning, describing,</p><p>and evaluating, and Creating instructional adaptations is followed by Trial and review. Jay and</p><p>Johnson (2002) included some ALACT elements in their stage model of reflection, starting</p><p>with descriptive reflection when teachers name events, key elements, feelings, responses, and</p><p>generate questions. Active, reflective analysis of teaching challenges and generation of adaptive</p><p>responses encourages novices to take agency and bridge theory and practice by perceiving</p><p>more in a particular situation and finding a helpful course of action [based on] strengthened</p><p>Hayden and Chiu 3</p><p> at GEORGIAN COURT UNIV on December 18, 2014mmr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>awareness (Korthagen &amp; Kessels, 1999, p. 7), but this does not develop without specific gui-</p><p>dance and concentrated support (Risko et al., 2008). By combining questioning of causes and</p><p>contexts with knowledge of theory and methods, novices can uncover instructional steps that</p><p>strengthen student learning.</p><p>Challenges, Adaptation</p><p>Reflecting on teaching challenges is crucial for building agency and efficacy, since it helps</p><p>novices become aware of spaces where [they] can take initiatives (Greene, 1988, p. 17).</p><p>Experiences of ambiguity and uncertainty can become prompts to reflect, and reflection can</p><p>change the character of an action (Shepel, 1995, pp. 434-435) when novices use it to adapt</p><p>instruction to affect student outcomes. But expecting teachers to think deeply about every event</p><p>in the teaching day would be unrealistic.</p><p>Cubans (1992) distinction of problems from dilemmas provides a way to think selectively</p><p>about teaching interactions. Problems are routine, structured situations that produce conflict</p><p>because a goal is blocked. Learning when to re-teach and when to move on is a problem of tim-</p><p>ing and targeting that will resolve as the ability to assess student learning improves. Expertise</p><p>provides solutions to such pedagogical issues, so less reflection time is required as teachers gain</p><p>proficiency with management of the tasks of teaching. Dilemmas are messier and require teach-</p><p>ers to choose among competing highly prized values (Cuban, 1992, p. 6). For example, some</p><p>students may transfer learning easily between reading and writing domains, seeing that strate-</p><p>gies to recognize and record story elements on a graphic organizer can be applied in reverse as</p><p>a prewriting strategy. Other students may need more scaffolded support in order to transfer stra-</p><p>tegies from reading to writing. If the teachers goal is for every student to write a story with</p><p>specific elements, that goal may need to be confronted.</p><p>Problems have elements of predictability and can be managed, but dilemmas interrupt the</p><p>teaching flow even for experts and require reflection and agency. Reflecting deeply on dilem-</p><p>mas while managing problems is a marker of expertise that requires the ability to filter prob-</p><p>lems by generating pedagogical adaptations that lead to resolution. Doing so frees up time and</p><p>space for reflection on dilemmas, improves self-efficacy for teaching, and decreases burnout</p><p>(Haverback &amp; Parault, 2008). Novices may initially reflect deeply on every classroom chal-</p><p>lenge, not yet having management routines for resolving problems. Developing such routines is</p><p>a crucial milestone in teacher development and an indicator of growth through the novice stage.</p><p>When novices notice and describe problems (Jay &amp; Johnson, 2002; Pui-lan et al., 2005), feel</p><p>empowered and perplexed enough to pose questions (Miller, 2007, p. 312) then reflect and</p><p>generate solutions, they move toward adaptive expertise.</p><p>Method</p><p>Participants</p><p>We obtained consent to collect written reflections from 23 novice teachers, all female, enrolled</p><p>in a reading assessment and evaluation course with teaching component at a public Midwestern</p><p>university. Six were graduate students adding teaching credentials, and 17 were junior-year</p><p>undergraduates. Eighteen novices provided information on previous teaching experiences. Four</p><p>of the graduate students had worked as para-educators in public schools for less than 4 years,</p><p>one was an English Language instructor overseas for 2 years, uncertified to teach in the United</p><p>States, and one had a degree and 2 years experience in school counseling. Undergraduates</p><p>reported two to six semesters of practicum during teacher training.</p><p>4 Journal of Mixed Methods Research XX(X)</p><p> at GEORGIAN COURT UNIV on December 18, 2014mmr.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>Context</p><p>The course novices were enrolled in focused on developing reflective inquiry and theoretical</p><p>frameworks to link assessment, instruction, and student performance. Instruction covered initial</p><p>reading/writing/spelling assessment and analysis and research-based elements of instruction.</p><p>Teaching in the reading clinic coincided with the class, but discussions of teaching experiences</p><p>were only used as examples to clarify instructional topics. No seminar or other outlet for dedi-</p><p>cated discussion accompanied teaching and the only regular time discourse occurred was during</p><p>novices writing of reflections and supervisors responses to them.</p><p>Each novice taught one child for two 60-minute sessions per week. Children were predomi-</p><p>nantly Caucasian, attended public o...</p></li></ul>


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