Reflective learning came up in the weekly round up Elluminate session today and Stephen asked Rita to expand on her understanding of reflective learning. It was one of those situations, where I was so busy trying to find my own response to Stephen’s question, that I completely dropped out of Elluminate into my own thoughts – so apologies if this post crosses or repeats what has been said.
Every year I work, as a tutor on an online distance learning reflective learning course ( a short course – only 4 weeks), run by Oxford Brookes University, which is based on the work of Jenny Moon and on which Jenny Moon is a tutor. The course is usually fairly small, numbers below 20, which is ideal for the subject, but we get participants from around the world, and it is always highly thought provoking and stimulating. People who attend the course already have a deep interest in the reflective learning process, and I love the course because I learn so much from them.
Today Stephen asked Rita to explain what she meant by reflective learning. This is a question that we ask our course participants, and which I have thought about deeply, since as a tutor on the course, I also share my own definition. My definition has developed a bit over the years, according to the reading I have done and also in response to participants on the course who have sometimes challenged my definition – but currently this is my thinking:
‘My own understanding (I hesitate to use the word ‘definition’) of reflection/reflective learning is that it is the process of thinking about my own thinking, actions or learning, with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of them and improving them, so that I can see the evidence in changed behaviour. This thinking will also involve examining my emotional response and how my feelings have influenced my thinking, actions and learning. To make this reflection significant, I need to mark it in some way, by talking about it or better still recording it in written form. Finally, I need to revisit the marked events at some later stage and note whether my learning has improved/moved on.’
This definition is based on the work of Jenny Moon and also on the work of John Mason, who have influenced my thinking and to whom I am grateful for their insights.
- Moon J (2006) Learning Journals. Routledge Falmer
- Moon J (2005) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning. Routledge Falmer
- Moon J (2005) We seek it here…a new perspective on the elusive activity of critical thinking. Escalate Discussion Series
- Mason, J (2002) Researching Your own Practice. The Discipline of Noticing. Routledge Falmer
Every year, I keep a blog in conjunction with the course – Reflective Learning with Reflective Learners. The next course will run March 2nd to April 2nd 2011. Although it is only short, it is intensive and I always learn a lot from the course participants, which helps to keep my thinking about reflective learning alive and prevent me from forgetting its relevance to teaching and learning in general.