The complexities of reflective practice in theacher education
: a new approach

  • Charlotte Meierdirk

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis presents papers based on a series of studies into the reflective practice of the student teacher at a university based initial teacher education institution. Specifically it investigates the use of reflective practice during the PGCE (Post/Professional Graduate Certificate of Education) year. Reflective practice is encouraged by Initial Teacher Educators (ITE) but manifestations and the extent of its importance to a professional teacher are the focus of this thesis. Reflective practice is interpreted widely and includes reflection, critical reflection and reflexivity.
    The research approach adopted in these studies is a combination of both feminism and interpretivism. A number of methodologies are used across the papers including a survey, case study and phenomenology. The case study includes the analysis, over the PGCE year, of six student teachers’ reflective practice sheets and a series of semi-structured interviews. The interview data are analysed using Nvivo, Excel and critical discourse analysis. The questionnaire was administered to the whole PGCE cohort of 101 student teachers and was analysed using Excel software.
    Conclusions drawn from the papers highlight the complex environment the student teacher occupies. Their placements consist of different social fields that impact on their agency. The external structure of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) and the internal social fields of competing agents influence, to varying degrees, the student teacher’s journey to professionalism. This journey includes having to construct and reconstruct a ‘teaching identity’ whilst simultaneously succumbing to the pressures of the various social structures and policies faced in an educational environment.
    A significant contribution of my research is a new definition and model of reflective practice. This new definition describes reflective practice as the questioning of practice, identity and the social environment due to an increase in knowledge, self-awareness and experience. The new reflective model is spiracle rather than linear and replaces Finlay’s (2008) linear model of reflective practice. This new model embraces the changing identity of the student teacher towards professionalism and the complex social environment in which they have to function.
    Date of AwardFeb 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Portsmouth
    SupervisorKaren Johnston (Supervisor)

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