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We have also excluded those studies primarily conducted as an evaluation of a particular teaching programme, and articles which document the use of reflection or critical reflection as a research method. So for the purposes of this review, we are confining our attention to studies that seek to establish the nature of reflection, reflective changes, and the outcomes of the reflective learning process by non-self-study methods.

We found 37 articles or book chapters which appeared to fit this category, that is, claimed to report the results of empirical research studies on reflection or critical reflection.

Most of these did not appear to build on the work of each other, and were in the main qualitative studies of a small group of students usually the students from the classes which the researcher s taught. There were three studies which claimed to be experimental in design Leung and Kember ; Lowe and Kerr ; Rees et al. Broadly, the qualitative studies tended to fall into two main categories: Some studies of course combine a variety of methods e. Because the tools for and approaches to reflection, as well as the data analysed, varied markedly in each case, it is impossible to build up a composite picture of the nature and effectiveness of reflective teaching and learning strategies.

This underscores one of the major current issues facing professional educators — how to ensure the continued quality development of critically reflective methods in an area of such diversity and complexity. The concepts of reflection, reflective practice and critical reflection Development of the ideas The idea of critical reflection has ancient origins. The recent resurgence in interest may then be seen as a return to reflection after centuries of searching for stable truths and foundational knowledge.

Some authors also acknowledge the work of Deweyas being pivotal to the development of our current notions of reflection Mezirow and associates ; Redmond Of course, as the ideas have developed, and different people have engaged in successive reworkings of the concepts using and adding newer theoretical frameworks, it is possible to identify several different approaches. These may firstly be categorized based on the theorists used. She argues that there is an interconnection between their work all are concerned with metalearning and perspective transformation and that it can be demonstrated that there is a clear chonological progression linking them Redmond Using a more explicitly philosophical framework, Bleakley In yet a third way of characterizing the different theoretical influences, Ixer The above formulations appear to downplay to some extent the role of critical theory and perspectives in the development of the idea of critical reflection although of course the works of Habermas and Freire are frequently cited as providing theoretical antecedents to current understandings.

A more focused formulation of critical theory contributions to reflection is clearly evident and well articulated in the extensive work of Brookfieldand Mezirow ; see also Mezirow and associates writing from the critical education tradition. In his writing, Brookfield There have also been more recent attempts to develop discourse analysis Ellermann ; Taylor and White ; White and Stancombe and postmodern thinking in reflective practice Parker ; Lesnick and of course to combine postmodern and critical theories as a basis for critical reflection e.

Fook a; Grace In fact, from a critical perspective although this term of course has multiple usages the use of critical theory, and its development for use in critical reflection, is probably one of the major defining features of critical reflection, and therefore one of the major factors which may differentiate it from reflective practice.

In this sense, critical reflection involves social and political analyses which enable transformative changes, whereas reflection may remain at the level of relatively undisruptive changes in techniques or superficial thinking. It is posited by some writers e. Taylor and White that central to the notion of the critical reflection is an understanding of the capacity of language to construct the world and way we experience it.

The capacity for language to construct what it purports to describe has been theorized and researched empirically on a number of levels. Work in this area is often known generally as discourse analysis.

However, it can mean a number of things.

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Foucault which are taken for granted but are in fact historically contingent. For example, in contemporary Western societies there are certain dominant notions about how mothers should properly behave towards their children. These are linked to specific forms of knowledge associated with attachment theory, for example. Critical reflection at this level is about understanding the technologies of power, language and practice that produce and legitimate forms of moral and political regulation.

To reflect critically at this level, practitioners need to understand the historically contingent nature of their ideas. That is, they can develop the capacity to resist and transgress. However, discourse may also refer to language used in interactions between people, or written words e.

At this interactional level we may look at how facts get assembled to do professional work, or how questions get asked. We may attend to how some phrases seem to be more powerful than others Taylor and White We need to look at the work the talk does. These kinds of distinctions have led a number of commentators to subclassify discourse analysis. Contributors to the present book have used both of these meanings.

For the purposes of critical reflection, it is important to understand that these forms of discourse interact with each other. Therefore, when analysing any conversation it should be possible to look for Discourse s and also to examine how words are assembled and used for a particular audience and for a particular effect Miller More recently there is a beginning recognition of the spiritual and existential aspects of reflective practice e.

Ghayeand therefore there are related attempts to introduce approaches such as Buddhist and Native American lore in developing it further Johns ; Varela As Betts points out, reflective practice can be aligned with theological, therapeutic or political benefits. In this sense, theorists of reflective practice may conceivably draw upon any theories which develop these aspects of the reflective experience.

All attempts to define any phenomenon will of course vary depending on the aspects emphasized, such as the nature of the process, its purposes and motivating features. As Ghaye and Lillyman c: And of course particular processes and outcomes may not necessarily be consistent with particular intentions.

A review of some of the most oft-quoted definitions of reflection or reflective practice will indicate some of these variations. Some commonly quoted definitions are as follows: Boyd and Fales It is possible to draw up from the foregoing definitions a full view of reflective practice or critical reflection which involves: Different usages will vary in the number and type of assumptions focused on, the types of processes involved, the criteria for review of assumptions, and of course the purposes for which the process is used.

The contexts of the uses of reflection may include learning about and improving practice, learning to develop practice-based theory, learning to connect theory and practice, and improving and changing practice. One of the more confusing and complex aspects of reflection is therefore the fact that it can be used to serve many different interests, often simultaneously, some of which may seem contradictory. In its fullest sense, then, reflective practice or critical reflection appears to apply to the use of reflective abilities in the scrutiny and development of practice.

This therefore implies the use of a framework for a reflective process involving different levels and stages, with one stage at least focused on the application of reflective learning to practice itself. This in a sense adds a context, complexity, purpose and depth to the simple exercise of reflective abilities. The implication is that it may be counterproductive to undertake any reflective process in organized learning settings without being clear about the specific purpose and process of reflection in relation to the particular context.

It has also been pointed out that the process as defined above implies that it is an individualistic, predominantly personal or self-oriented learning exercise Reynolds and Vince Gould and Baldwin a; Reynolds and Vince ; Ghaye To some extent, then, it is the way the abilities and process are theorized which provides some guidance as to the specific nature and goals of the process. Critical reflection, in this sense, may be seen as the use of reflective abilities to achieve some freeing from hegemonic assumptions e.

Brookfieldaparticularly those relating to power and its complex expression as exemplified by the work of Foucault Brookfield b. Adding a postmodern perspective allows for the hegemony to be recognized even in assumptions about the nature of knowledge and its generation itself.

Recognizing this type of reflection often involves differentiating levels of reflection, distinguished by the levels of assumptions unearthed. The varying levels of reflection will be discussed further on. Is it necessary to differentiate reflection and critical reflection?

Perspectives on this question vary in the literature, since of course it is widely acknowledged that there is little consensus on the meaning and usage of these terms Ixer ; Ghaye and Lillyman a: Some may simply see the two as intertwined e.

Redmondas building upon and complementing each other. Others emphasize the need to differentiate the two in order to capitalize on the emancipatory potential of critical reflection Reynolds ; Catterall et al.

These issues will become clearer when we discuss the different levels of reflection outlined in the literature. Taylor However, formulations of levels of reflection usually assume a staged process involved in attaining successive levels of depth, transformation or criticality. In fact most schemas recognize at least three levels of reflection, beginning with a more descriptive level, advancing to what might be termed a more reflective level, and culminating in a critical or transformational level.

What differs of course is the way the detail of these stages is conceptualized. For instance, early schemas appear relatively simplistic in contemporary times Mezirow The three levels of content, process and premise reflection are differentiated in terms of the focus of reflection content of problem, strategies employed in the problem and underlying premises of the problem and a questioning of their relevance.

These refer to the ability to advance from a state of automatic performance with little consciousness, through understanding without relating to other situations, onto a systematic consideration of the grounds for knowledge and its implications, to a final level of awareness of what is behind thoughts and perceptions.

Their four levels are summarized as follows: Their seven levels begin with conceptions of knowledge as absolute pre-reflective levels and advance through levels where knowledge begins to be seen as uncertain or ambiguous quasi-reflectiveto a reflective stage where knowledge is seen as constructed by systematic inquiry and evaluation of evidence.

Their schema is more explicitly rational than others. These sorts of conceptualizations provide useful frameworks for differentiating the uses of reflection in different settings and also for the identification and possible measurement of the effectiveness of different reflective methodologies.

What is problematic of course is that whatever framework is used and presumably whatever features are taken as indicative of respective levels of ability will be at least partly related to the sort of theoretical framework which guides the understanding of reflection.

This will necessarily, at least in part, construct the phenomenon it sets out to investigate and describe. And since these frameworks are not necessarily shared, it is difficult to conduct research which builds upon the findings of previous studies. Again, variety is the order of the day, although to some extent these variations appear to be less related to theoretical frameworks than other aspects of reflection.

Ghaye and Lillyman To some degree these vary according to their levels of prescriptiveness, flexibility and the typologies of reflection upon which they are based. Stuctured models may use staged sets of questions to guide reflection e. Hierarchical models may focus on guiding students though succeeding levels of reflective abilities.

Iterative and holistic models may be more cyclical, and focus more on the process of learning. A plethora of tools and techniques for reflection has been written about in the literature Osmond and Darlingtonand may be used in written or verbal form, either interactively or in self-reflection. These include critical incident technique Fook et al. In addition, the analysis of ethnographic data, naturally occurring case records and reports, or transcripts of meetings may also be useful for the interrogation of taken-for-granted assumptions Riemann a; Taylor and White ; White and Stancombe There therefore appears to be a danger in concentrating too closely on the techniques for reflection, which may easily be co-opted for use by conflicting interests.

Much of the literature therefore notes that simple techniques of reflection may not be effective if the culture or principles of reflection are misunderstood e. Mezirowor indeed that the professional culture, with its capacity to shape and sustain activity and ideas, is itself taken for granted Bilson and White These elements are to some extent echoed in other formulations of the requirements for reflection Brockbank et al.

Most of the foregoing emphazise the value base of reflection and perhaps focus on the way the process is conducted. For example, Ghaye and Lillyman a discuss 12 principles of reflective practice, which include: Sometimes an understanding of the experience of reflection also brings alive the type of culture necessary to its effectiveness. Many of these features can be taken as referring to the sorts of values or beliefs which individual reflective learners need to accept in order to maximize the effectiveness of their reflection.

Associated terms and ideas As mentioned earlier, it is difficult to discuss the ideas of reflective practice and critical reflection in an isolated manner, since they are associated with many related concepts such as critical thinking, critical awareness, critical consciousness, critical inquiry, critical self-awareness, emancipatory reflection, and reflexivity. In some instances these concepts themselves may involve contested meanings. For example, the idea of critical thinking may be defined as similar in outcome to one of the goals of critical reflection as defined in critical theory terms: On the other hand, it may be defined more in terms of the reasoning skills involved, encapsulating creative, reflective and judgement abilities in complex and uncertain situations Ennis ; Plath et al.

In other instances the terms themselves involve their own set of complexities and theoretical developments e. In still other cases, what is common in many of the usages is simply conflated. For example, Payne It is not profitable or helpful to attempt to delineate and differentiate the separate meanings of this host of related terminology, but it is useful to note that presumably there is room for both clear and sloppy meanings of the terms to abound when such flexibility exists.

Flexibility, whilst being inclusive of many traditions and theoretical perspectives, also makes it difficult to develop our understanding of such ideas, and rigorous research of them, when so many of our formulations are built upon different traditions and frameworks.

Complicating the situation even further is the fact that many conceptions of reflective practice and critical reflection are associated not just with different single terms, but in fact with different research or learning formulations or approaches themselves. In terms of learning traditions these would include: In the field of research associated traditions include: The idea of reflexivity seems to span both, as an approach which can both be used to research and learn from practice Taylor and White And indeed, in a critical approach to knowledge making, the goal of becoming critical combines both educational and research functions.

The classic work of Carr and Kemmis is written in this tradition. Of the above ideas, those of transformational learning, action learning and research, narrative research, discourse analysis and reflexivity are probably the most interrelated with critical reflection. Transformational learning, as developed by Mezirow and others see Mezirowplaces emphasis on how we make meaning and decisions to act from experience.

Critical reflection is an essential part but only a part of this process. Likewise, in the action learning and research traditions, the focus is on learning from actual activities, and critical reflection is also an integral and articulated phase but only a phase of this process. Linking the ideas of language and discourse with our understanding of critical reflection, the process of critical reflection may be likened to a process of identifying and analysing how our language and discourse may indicate the influence of dominant discourses in our thinking and practices.

With regard to reflexivity, it is possible to argue that a reflexive ability is central to critical reflection, in that an awareness of the influence of self and subjectivity is vital to an appreciation of how we construct and participate in constructing our world and our knowledge about that world Fook a.

Criticisms What are some of the key criticisms of critical reflection and reflective practice which emerge from the literature? We have noted the confusing, sometimes undiscerning and uninformed, usage of the terms and their conflation.

This has led some critics to assert that for the purposes of assessing reflective abilities at the very least there is no such thing as a theory of reflection Ixer Another key problem we have also already noted is the lack of research to provide empirical evidence of the value and outcomes of a reflective process. Many of the critiques centre on the actual practice of reflection. Perriton highlights this last point by noting the difficulties in actually using critical reflection as a method.

She also points up the tension, which is an issue in many educational frameworks, of how people may become critical without becoming indoctrinated. Conclusion Reflective practice and critical reflection emerge from this review as popular, yet complex and contested ideas. They are used and written about in a plethora of professions, from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, and for a variety of different purposes.

In addition, they are often terms used interchangeably with others whose meaning may be equally contested. What actually happens in a critical reflective process is largely related to the particular theoretical formulations in vogue with its exponents.

In addition, different models and tools may be used, and the effectiveness of the experience may also be influenced by the style and skill of the facilitator, as well as the group climate and broader context of the reflective process. Our review highlights the relatively under-researched nature of reflection, given its extensive use.

Furthermore, there is little empirical research seeking to identify the changes brought about by reflection, or outcomes of the process, compared with that found in other studies. Sometimes the published studies do not outline in detail the actual research methodologies used, or the details of the reflective process and approach under study. This seems highly counterproductive in a growing field.

How, then, do we account for such glaring gaps? It may be that the very popularity of critical reflection is also its undoing: Perhaps also the very educational culture which supports the value of practice experience in a reflective practice tradition, also works against its best interests by not also subjecting it to rigorous debate, systematic investigation using a variety of methods, and informed awareness of its complexities, differences and shared understandings.

Perhaps we assume that reflective practice is simply a matter of practice, learnt best by doing it?

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And does this therefore preclude other, more academically inclined approaches to knowledge-making? By asking this question we do not mean to suggest that critical reflection is not something of value and relevance in current workplaces and learning institutions, and indeed within broader social contexts.

Clearly, the need for reflective abilities is evidenced by current workplace and social changes, and the degree to which they have caught the imagination of so many different groups.

But how do we further the cause of critical reflection so that it is not used for purposes we did not intend, co-opted by contradictory interests, simply used in harmful or at best ineffective ways, or even written off as too sloppy or indeterminate? Part of the answer to this may lie in our need to examine reflectively our own assumptions about critical reflection and the cultural practices and climates which may support its undiscerning use. Perhaps there is a need not only to value the practical nature of the approach, but also to develop more inclusive ways of understanding, representing and researching the great variety of benefits we know, from our own experience, that it provides.

Critical Reflection in Health and Social Care

There may need to be more and other ways of representing our experiences of critical reflection; ways which can also speak to the more sceptical amongst us, and illustrate how such a process might be used to good effect in a variety of very different settings.

The flexibility of reflective practice may in fact demand that there be much more inclusivity in the way it is researched. Every group has its edge, its sense of in and out, and trickster is always there, at the gates of the city and the gates of life, making sure there is commerce. He also attends the internal boundaries by which groups articulate their social life. We constantly distinguish — right and wrong, sacred and profane, clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead — and in every case trickster will cross the line and confuse the distinction.

Trickster is the creative idiot, therefore the wise fool, the gray-haired baby, the cross-dresser, the speaker of sacred profanities. Trickster is a boundary crosser, but also a boundary creator, exposing new distinctions, making the usual strange.

Often breaching morals and mores, trickster invites the possibility of new values. Yet, the concept of culture is often taken for granted and its capacity to shape what can be thought, said, or done is ignored. Culture is often referred to in policy documents as a medium relatively easily changed. Yet, research into teams in social care e. Pithouse ; Hall ; Whitemedicine e. Bloor and nursing e. Latimer shows how cultures are locally accomplished and reproduced and can sustain the tacit practices of occupations, organizations and teams, and indeed may be used to resist the sort of approaches to policy and practice change usually associated with rational approaches to governance.

The hypothesis, generated during the mids, that gastric ulcers were the result of bacterial infection was initially considered preposterous. The established belief at the time was that peptic ulcers were caused by excess acidity, which eventually eroded the stomach wall and caused lesions. Due to this established belief, which was treated by both clinicians and scientists as the only right and proper way to think, the new hypothesis was slow to gain acceptance.

It was not until the mids that the idea gained widespread acceptance. Thus, until the discovery by Warren a pathologist and Marshall a gastroenterologist of the role of H. If we take the example of child care social work in the UK, there are numerous examples of particular orthodoxies taking hold.

Fashionable and powerful ideas, often supported by theory, or varieties of moral reasoning can interrupt the capacity of practitioners to engage critically with their endeavour.

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I want to argue here that, in these circumstances, the trickster metaphor may be helpful in encouraging new thinking about everyday practices. That is to say, professional accounts are contingent upon available vocabularies. Sometimes vocabularies need stirring up a little.

Lively talk and lively culture Hyde says of the trickster: Trickster speaks freshly where language has been blocked, gone dead, or lost its charm. Letters and other therapeutic documents are closely associated with narrative therapy. Both David Epston and Michael White have conducted informal clinical research asking what letters are worth. Read More Alternative Sources of Bravery Bravery and its transmission from one to another can be thought of much like a blood transfusion.

As is well known, most people in good health have more blood than they need at any one time. The donor merely requires a few minutes to recover and a well sugared cup of tea and they are on their way again. I consider that bravery has been similarly transfused from one to another especially from time immemorial.

Where do questions come from? How are good questions related to good stories? How do some stories surpass other stories? What have we been taught about inquiry in our training? What guides inquiry in narrative therapy? What are some narrative lines of inquiry?