Valuing and encouraging critical reflection in pre-service teacher education
Van Halen-Faber, Christine.
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This qualitative study was designed to investigate aspects related to valuing and encouraging critical reflection in pre-service teacher education. An examination of the place and function of practicum logbooks as used at Covenant Canadian Reformed Teachers' College, a small private college which offers pre-service teacher education formed the core of the research. An analysis of the practicum logbooks written by five student teachers during three different practicum placements was performed at two levels. First, a content analysis served to identify general and specific categories within the practice teaching contextas a learning experience. Secondly, in-depth intuitive and thematic analyses of the entries which related specifically to reflection as a learning experience gave rise to critical questions. Throughout the process, the five participants formed an active and involved group of co-researchers, adding their voices to the narrative of the learning experience. Variables such as personality type, learning style and self-directedness added a dimension which deepened and emiched the study. The result of the study suggests that practicum logbooks form a valuable base for valuing and encouraging critical reflection in pre-service teacher education. The results also suggest that not all students appear to be equally capable of critical reflection. Recognizing that teacher education exists as a continuum appears to support the findings that in their journey along this continuum, student teachers not only move from reflection-on-action to reflection-in-action, but also from content to process to premise reflection. An awareness of contributing factors such as personality type, degree of risk-taking, preferred learning style and self-directedness on the part of teacher-educators will serve to create a climate of trust in which student teachers can safely develop critical reflection, using practicum logbooks as one possible medium.