Core Activity 2.4: Reflection and learning
Here’s a challenge – reflecting on reflecting! In response to a prescribed activity and readings I’ve made some notes on ‘learning through reflection’ and the challenge of assessing reflection and now I’m required to reflect on my attitude to ‘learning through reflection’ and whether blogging is a useful way to do this.
I’m finding it interesting, feels like this is ‘my kind of thing’, getting inside my head a bit and taking time to . . . . reflect (of course!).
I think in everyday life I probably do take time to reflect, often on ‘the bigger picture’ . . . which most recently led to my decision to take a career break, so I’d say it’s a good thing to take time to reflect – I liked that particular outcome :-). Moon (2005) referred to a ‘common-sense’ approach to reflection and having a purpose for reflecting, or just ‘being reflective,’ possibly with a subconscious purpose, also leading to a useful outcome. This I found an easy concept to grasp and relate to. An everyday process; I’ve always kept a diary, although it does tend to be a record of events more than feelings . . . more on that later.
From the readings, the next level is to think about the application of the reflective process to more complex situations, where perhaps there is not an obvious solution and we may draw on previous experience and other knowledge to work through the situation. In the learning context, this can lead to making meaning of the learning, making connections with other learning and ‘transforming’ current understanding and reaching a deeper level of understanding.
This next level of reflection is what I do as I work through the readings, making notes and reprocessing and representing the information in a way that is more meaningful to me.
So I think I am very open to reflection, recognising that for me it already has a place in everyday life and I can see that it is a valuable competency to develop and apply to the process of learning.
However, the challenge I face is that my approach to reflective writing is quite constrained . . . this early on in the course my style of reflective writing feels quite academic and structured – perhaps because I feel I’ve only just managed to find my academic writing style . . . and now I’m being asked to be informal!
I feel the need to set the scene and summarise some of my reading before I get near to my thoughts and feelings (if I do get that far) . . . I also tend to write for an audience, aware of how I’m presenting myself, rather than just focusing on the personal account. A bit like my diary then, more a record of events than a personal account reflecting any emotions or feelings.
Another reason for this may be my professional background, originally a scientist and so required to write reports, often a quantitative rather than qualitative approach. Moon (2001) mentioned how some subjects may, by nature, encourage reflective writing more than others. Similarly, some professions will prescribe reflective practice for continuing professional development and evidence of this reflection as part of a revalidation process.
Blogging as a tool for reflection
My experience of blogging so far has been a positive one and I do think it is a useful tool for recording not only the product of reflection but also providing evidence of the process. As an online tool it enables sharing of reflections and facilitates feedback and, where required, assessment of these. It can be relatively easily integrated into an ePortfolio and provides a useful record. Video and audio diaries are also another approach, although for me I like the visual written record, something that as a learner I can go back to, scan or contemplate at my own pace. I like the creative aspect of a blog, how easy it is to add illustrations or photos and I enjoy the aspect of an audience and receiving feedback, and the ability to carefully (perhaps too carefully) craft my writing.
For others though, I can see that the sharing of reflections, thoughts and feelings can be an uncomfortable experience; even if the process itself is a useful one, having to provide evidence to share can be off-putting and lead to users shying away from blogging.
One thing I’ll remember – there’s no right or wrong way to reflect . . . and I’ve got room for improvement!
Moon, J. (2001) ‘PDP working paper 4: reflection in higher education learning’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id72_Reflection_in_Higher_Education_Learning.rtf (last accessed 26 September 2011).
Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc (last accessed 26 September 2011).