Open Journal of Modern Linguistics
2012. Vol.2, No.4, 180-188
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Enhancing Pre-Service Teacher Training: The Construction
and Application of a Model for Developing Teacher Reflective
Practice Online
Mark Brooke
Department of Linguistics and Mod e r n Languages, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong, China
Received August 27th, 2012; revised September 27th, 2012; accepted October 4th, 2012
Reflective practice is an essential component of pre-service teacher training programs. It facilitates the
linking of theory and practice and empowers trainees to seek reasons behind their practices and their be-
liefs. These help novices to evolve as they witness their own teaching philosophies emerging. This re-
search took place over 18 months and comprised 3 case studies of eight weeks with 3rd year ESOL train-
ees on their first intensive block practice in Hong Kong state schools. The research suggests that an online
environment is an effective one in supporting and developing reflective practice during these periods.
This was facilitated by asking trainees to apply an online model to scaffold reflections. These reflections
were then posted and discussed by all case study members. They were also explored further using online
moderator asynchronous Socratic dialogue to prompt further reflection. Findings demonstrate that a deep
level of reflection is attainable in this context, albeit relatively rare, using the online medium.
Keywords: Pre-Service Teacher Training; Reflective Practice; Asynchronous Computer-Mediated
Communication (ACMC); Action Research
Reflective practice for pre-service teachers is an essential
component of any preparation program (Grossman, 2008; Os-
torga, 2006). Reflection is particularly important today with the
emphasis on student outcomes (Ward & McCotter, 2004) which
consider it as a performance competency for teachers (Council
for Exceptional Children, 2009) and an accreditation standard
for teacher education programs (National Council for Accredi-
tation of Teacher Education, 2008). In Hong Kong’s education
system, university-led teacher education programmes are driven
by reflective teaching. In fact, in the last 20 years, this model
has been at the heart of its initial teacher education programmes
across the SAR.
The Purpose and Aim of the Study
The Hong Kong Institute of Education is the largest teacher
education provider in Hong Kong. 84% of Hong Kong’s pri-
mary school teachers and 30% of HK’s secondary school
teachers are graduates of the HK Institute of Education. The
purpose of the study was to analyse the nature of reflective
practice in this researcher’s context. In other words, the themes
most commonly examined by trainees during their practicum.
Following on from this purpose, the aim was to develop a
process exploiting the online environment to guide trainees to
develop their reflective practice. Thus, the following research
question emerged: how can the reflective practice of pre-service
teacher trainees be developed through the online environment?
Rationale for the Study
Some take a practical standpoint and argue that, due to the
fact that the end-of-practicum portfolio reflection is nearly al-
ways an individual task, it is better to leave students to reflect
in peace and quietude through their learning journals. In addi-
tion, due to their lack of experience, student teachers during
field experience practicum are much more inclined to focus on
the pragmatic and immediate problems in the classroom, such
as trying out instructional approaches and dealing with class-
room management issues. For them, attempting to develop
reflective thinking skills to encompass consideration of political,
moral and ethical issues is beyond the scope of their first inten-
sive training. Others take a much more critical view and argue
that all teachers (whether pre-service or in-service) should be
encouraged from the outset to share their reflections and, in true
constructivist style aid each other towards higher realms of
reflection. These experts also argue that new and old teachers
are increasingly constrained by institutional forces, including
school district policies on curriculum, instruction and profes-
sional development (Lieberman & Miller, 1991); text-book
companies, class sizes decisions, and tight exam-oriented syl-
labi selected by governing bodies. With all of this top-down,
centralized policy-making, a need to reflect on political, moral
and ethical issues is quintessential to understanding one’s posi-
tion vis a vis one’s school, one’s district and one’s society.
Literature Review
Defining Reflective Prac ti ce
According to Zeichner and Liston (1996), there are many
features that define reflective practice in teacher training.
Quintessential to this model is a cycle of planning, provisioning,
acting, data collecting, assessing, reflecting and planning again
for a subsequent step. However, there are also other elements
that help to define it. The reflective process is more often than
not, considered as an individual process. However, should it be
more social and if so, how can this be facilitated? Regarding the
content of reflection: should it strive to include critical analyses
incorporating more general, political, moral and ethical issues
(as defined by Sparkes-Langer et al., 1990)? Finally, concern-
ing the time frame exemplified in Schon’s “reflection in action”
and “reflection on action”: is it possible to facilitate both reflec-
tions that take place relatively quickly in relation to the event
and reflections that require much thought over a longer time
3.2. Reasons Why the Online Environment Can
Impact on Reflective Thinking
The online environment has been growing rapidly in impor-
tance in the last decade as a tool to develop reflective practice
in teacher education (Davis & Roblyer, 2005, Galanouli &
Collins, 2002). It is believed that with a high volume of online
interaction in a virtual learning environment such as Black-
board or Moodle, focused topic-related discussions raise par-
ticipants’ levels of critical reflection (Galanouli & Collins,
2002; Murillo, 2008; Simonsen, Luebeck, & Bice, 2009; Yang,
2009). Reasons for this are that all postings are available to
trainees at all times due to the open access nature of the envi-
ronment. This gives recourse to discussions throughout the
eight-week practicum. In addition, because of the asynchronous
nature of the environment, communication is not subject to the
stresses of online planning as is face to face interaction. This
offers its users time to produce a more considered discourse
(Garrison, 2009). The fact these considered reflections are
shared with peers renders this medium preferable in teacher
education to tradi ti o na l book journaling.
Despite these notions, Salazar et al. (2010) report that more
research is required in the use of online forums for fostering
reflective practice among pre-service teachers of English lan-
guage learners (ELL). Although the number of online discus-
sions among pre-service teachers increased as their commu-
nity Project TEACH evolved, the complexity in thinking about
educational issues did not. What is needed in the research is a
systematic exploration of how teacher educators can stimulate
reflective practice online. It is hoped that findings from this
study will be of use to teacher educators who are working
online with their trainees by providing empirical evidence of
the impact of frameworks developed to facilitate higher level,
critical reflection.
Methods and Approaches
Action Research
The action research framework provided an essential struc-
ture to direct the research, in particular, the model cycle offered
by Nunan (1993) was applied: it moves from the awareness of a
problem; to an investigation about the problem; to a formula-
tion of possible solutions; an intervention implementing possi-
ble solutions; then an observed outcome and the reporting of
that outcome. To move from one of the stages to the next in this
cycle, a great deal of reflection, action and evaluation of action
is normally required.
Prior to the first case study, a very basic plan for the action
research had been prepared to “develop participant reflection”.
This was to ask learners to apply a well-known set of learning
cycles (Argyris & Schon, 1978, see Figure 3) to their class-
room experiences. However, feedback from participants com-
municated the need for scaffolding; the model was found to be
too abstract. It was thus decided that scaffolding of the double
loop learning process might facilitate its use. After three case
studies of trial and error action research and relevant academic
research while the case studies were being conducted, this be-
came the “Model for developing teacher reflective practice
online” (see Figure 1).
Each case study consisted of six third-year, pre-service male
and female teacher trainees. These students are part of a four-
year BEd programme in English Language teaching for both
primary and secondary state schools in Hong Kong. The stu-
dents aged between 20 and 25 years of age and were from Hong
Kong and various regions of the People’s Republic of China.
Despite their training in teacher education, participants, prior to
this research, had received little, if any, training in developing
reflective practice.
Conceptual Framework of the Research
The tools used to develop reflection are presented in dia-
grammatic form in Figure 1 below. They are then described
more fully in Figure 2.
Reflective Tools
To engage trainees in systematic questioning and reflecting,
a process to be followed online consisting of 3 phases was set
up. The first phase involved guiding trainees to implement two
reflective frameworks. Framework 1 is adapted slightly from
Step 1
Step 2
T rainee reflects on
experience using Daloglu/
Valli hybrid
Step 3
Trainee applies reflections
to a single loop learning
Step 4
Trainee reflects on the
learning to construct new
meanings and begins the
critical reflection of the
double loop learning
Application of Socratic dialogue to aid
trainee to move from single loop to double
Figure 1.
Model for developing teacher reflective practice online.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 181
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Daloglu (2002). Framework 2 is from Valli (1993). The second
phase involved the learning cycle from Argyris and Schön,
(1978) known as the single loop learning cycle. The third phase
involved the learning cycle from Argyris and Schön (1978),
known as the double loop learning cycle. In order to guide
trainees through this process, tutor Socratic dialogue (Bakhtin,
1990) was used by embedding questions and comments into
students’ texts to encourage critical reflections.
Daloglu’s (2002) Questioning Framework
Trainees were asked to answer the 4 questions put forward
by Daloglu:
What I already knew but benefited from observing/teaching
in school;
What I did not know but learnt from my observations/
teaching in school;
What I would like to implement in my own teaching;
My comments on and reactions to the experiences I have
This framework was specifically constructed for pre-service
trainees following a practicum placement period in local state
schools in Turkey. Daloglu reports that this framework was
very successful as guidance in paper journal writing. What
made this researcher choose it as part of the conceptual frame-
work was its explicit focus on observations, not only classroom
teaching. For Daloglu, trainees should be involved in peer ob-
servation systems. They should also have the opportunity to
observe more experienced, supporting teachers during block
practice. These experiences can also have a great deal of impact
in building a teacher’s skills.
1 Experience
Think of a recent field practice experience.
2: Reflection
What did you know about the experience before you started teaching?
What did you learn from the experience?
3: Genera li z a t io n
Please use Valli’s (1993) notion of deliberative reflection to base your experience in theory.
Are there any books, lectures, classroom observations or advice from peers/ tutors you can use to
help you understand the experience? How does it help you to do this?
4: Tes ting
Applying Daloglu’s (2002) third point: what would you like to implement in your own teaching to
deal with the experience? Trial your idea (s)
5: Post–testing 1
My comments on and reactions to the intervention that I have just carried out. Have you made any
discoveries? Did you implement any new practice (s)? Reflect on the success /outcome of this
intervention. Do you plan to make any further changes in the near future?
6: Post-testing 2
Look back on the cycle from steps1 to 5 and consider the following question. What are your comments
and reactions to the experience I have had? Are there any paradigm shifts or new understandings
emerging? In other words, do you interpret the situation differently now? If yes, please explain.
Figure 2.
Template to facilitate double loop learning.
testing reflection
understanding Paradig
Single loop learning cycle Double loop learning cycle
Figure 3.
Argyris & Schon’s single and double loop learning cycles.
Valli’s (1993) Notion of Deliberative Reflection
Where many t eacher educators focus most attention on expe-
riential learning, Valli gives equal weight to dialectical reflec-
tion (personal, experiential reflective content) and deliberative
reflection (reference to the academic literature in the field). The
importance of reading and sharing literature about teaching
written by other valued practitioners and researchers is thus
very present in her typology. Valli (ibid) thus asks pre-service
teachers to embrace theoretical content. Pre-service teachers
should be encouraged t o search out relevant literature.
Argyris and Schon’s (1978) Single and Double Loop
Learning Cycles (See Figure 3)
The stages of learning of the single loop followed by the
double loop learning cycles are revealed below:
For the single loop learning cycle, a practitioner:
becomes aware of a puzzle at the experience stage;
then conducts a process that attempts to “make sense” and
“make meaning” at the reflection stage;
then works with the meanings emerging and uses these
meanings to create understandings about the puzzle at the
“generalization” stage;
then tries out interventions in practice to deal with the puz-
zle investigated at the “testing” stage.
The “making sense” and “making meaning” stages require
the participant to know what and why something happened. The
“working with meaning” is more complex and might involve
the consideration of past experiences and the predictions of fu-
ture actions. There could therefore be a restructuring of mean-
ing. However, with this model, reflection involves an im-
provement of the status quo and therefore, is not designed to
build critical reflection by discussing the broader issues in the
educational system. This is provided by the double loop learn-
ing cycle which contains “emergent knowing” and “paradigm
shift”. This has been designed specifically for a re-evaluation of
the status quo and a process of deep learning. As Moon (1999:
p. 123) argues, it is the “most advanced stage named on the
map of learning”.
By following a double loop learning process, trainees are
guided to confront basic assumptions behind ideas or policies
and to seek the modification of their underlying beliefs and
conceptions as well as those of the institutions in which they
serve. This process of critically questioning the status quo oc-
curs at the “emergent knowing” stage of the double loop learn-
ing cycle. It then leads to a “paradigm shift”. The reflections
based on this shift it is hoped, will help to build new under-
standings about teaching and learning.
Socratic Dialogue
Socratic dialogue is an open-ended kind of dialogue. It is
Bakhtin (1990) who contrasted it with Magistral dialogue. It
may commence similarly to Magistral writing but after the first
reading, the text becomes a mutually-constructed body of writ-
ing personalized for and shaped by the reader by the interject-
tions made. Thus, according to Gustafson, Hodgson & Tickner
(2004), unlike Magistral dialogue, the aim of Socratic dialogue
is not to reach a predetermined end, as is often the case with
Magistral dialogue. When involved in Socratic dialogue, the
interlocutors are not distanced from each other. They are in-
volved in creating conditions for intimacy, and experiencing
difference as something productive and essential. It is therefore
the creation of a very different connection between reader and
writer than the one who knows and the one who needs to know
as is the case with Magistral dialogue, which presupposes this
hegemonic relationship.
Data Collection
This researcher collated the data every week using the collect
thread tool on the Blackboard discussion forums. Once the
collect tool is selected, the postings are displayed. A user needs
to select the tick box of individual learners or simply tick the
first box for all postings to be selected. These can then be col-
lected in various ways: chronologically, in descending or as-
cending order (descending lists the postings from the latest first;
ascending lists the postings from the earliest first); from the
author’s first or last name; from the subject of the posting; or
by collecting them on the dates on which they were uploaded.
For this research, threads were collected on a chronological
basis in ascending order every week. They were then coded and
The total number of postings collected was 397. All posts
were first analysed and sorted into categories based on the con-
tent of their reflections. The postings were then further analysed
for their level of critical reflection based on Sparks-Langer et
al.’s (1990) hierarchal framework for reflective pedagogical
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 183
Content Analysis
Data Grouping 1: Content of Reflection
The content of participant reflections was analysed through
multiple observations over the 3 case studies. This framework
can be seen to be a hybrid integrating Shulman’s (1987) and Ho
and Richards’ (1993) categories along with a construct from
this researcher “asking questions about teaching and requests
for advice from peers and the trainer”. These are presented
Life/Logistics (personal life situations or logistics of field
experience and/ or teacher education program) from Shul-
Content Knowledge (subject matter knowledge related to
the body of knowledge in TESOL such as linguistics and
phonology) from Shulman;
Discussing broader issues in education (adapted from
Discussing instructional approaches, teaching theories, me-
thods and strategies used from Ho and Richards;
Demonstrating self awareness from Ho and Richards;
Asking questions about teaching and requests for advice
from peers and the trainer (constructed by this author).
Data Grouping 2: Levels of Reflection
Sparks-Langer et al.’s (1990) hierarchal framework for re-
flective pedagogical thinking was applied to measure the level
of participant reflection. The 7 levels are provided below and
are supported by examples from this researcher’s data:
No descriptive language;
A simple, layperson description: for example, “I asked stu-
dents to do group work”;
Events labeled with appropriate pedagogical terms or con-
cepts: “I asked students to do colla bo r a t iv e group work”;
Explanations with traditional or personal preferences given
as the rationale: “A friend of mine recommended a class-
room management practice called ‘power teaching’. It is
really useful I think.”
Explanation of an event using pedagogical principle(s):
“According to the schedule, Tina and I should teach the
reader Spiderman until 4th May. In our methodology course,
we learnt that readers are a good tool because the language
is contextualized.”
Explanation with principle/theory and consideration of con-
textual factors such as student characteristics or community
factors: “I enjoy teaching English with readers because the
language is always contextualised. But it is rather difficult
because my students are not used to doing reading activities
in class. I am now striving to work out some activities in
order to increase students’ incentive to read and learn from
Explanation with consideration of ethical, moral or political
issues: “I asked students to do group work. However, I di-
vided them according to their seats. This is not the most ap-
propriate way for grouping. I will observe students’ per-
formance and make some changes according to their learn-
ing abilities. I think this is very important for dealing with
diversity in class. I want my students to learn to work co-
operatively together in class, to help and value each other.”
Research Procedures
As the research was a spiral of experiential learning through
action research cycles, the following description of the proce-
dures for the study is presented in chronological order as a re-
count. The description reveals how the final “Model for devel-
oping teacher reflective practice” was constructed, which can
be found as Figure 1 and as an expanded version in Figure 2.
Step 1
The first step in the process was to train students to ask
themselves questions about their experiences and reflect on
these. This was then followed by training students to make a
“generalization” about these reflections. Scaffolding for the
initial reflection on experience task of the single loop learning
cycle was given by asking students to apply Daloglu’s (2002)
questioning framework to their experiences. In addition, train-
ees were asked to apply Valli’s (1993) notion of deliberative
reflection to these answers in order to facilitate the transition
from “reflection” to “generalization”. In order to reflect delib-
eratively, trainees must refer to writings from experts in the
educational field and through the literature, seek knowledge
from these experts to help them understand the problem and
make them feel that their own experiences are perhaps more
common than they think.
Step 2
The next step was to progress from step 1 to a simple action
research cycle to train students to consider ways of improving
their practice based on the reflections and generalizations that
they had made. To do this, trainees were asked to consider how
they might apply the Daloglu (2002)/Valli (1993) combination
to an action research process through the single loop mecha-
nism presented by Argyris and Schön (1978); in other words, to
move from “generalization” to “testing”. However, feedback
from trainees suggested that the Daloglu (2002) framework
alone was inadequate for this transition. In order for the
Daloglu framework to fit in entirely with the Argyris and Schön
cycle, there was an adjustment made to it. This was an added
statement: “my comments on and reactions to the intervention
that I have just carried out”. In addition, it soon became clear
that the cycle graphic did not facilitate all of this questioning
and that another graphic design would be more applicable. The
single loop learning cycle was transformed into a flowchart (the
single loop learning process goes as far as post testing 1) in-
stead to make the visual aid more effective.
Step 3
The next stage in the process was the facilitation of the move
from the single to the double loop learning cycle. This meant
trainees were to engage in more critical reflections to include
much broader issues. Using Sparks-Langer et al.’s (1990) hier-
archal framework for reflective pedagogical thinking, this is the
highest level, level 7, “explanation with consideration of ethical,
moral or political issues”. To do this, another scaffolding pro-
cedure was used. The notions from the double loop were added
to the flowchart (post testing 2) to guide trainees through the
conceptual reflections on paradigm shift and new understand-
Step 4
It was still found that some participants found the shift from
the single loop to the double loop learning cycle problematic.
Thus, throughout steps 3 and 4, Socratic dialogue was embed-
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
ded in online postings to prompt reflection by asking questions
and making comments on trainee writings. Sometimes these
comments would guide trainees to rewrite or expand their re-
flections; sometimes they would contradict reflections and in-
vite trainees to consider other possible solutions to problems or
different ways of seeing events; sometimes they would guide
trainees to refer to appropriate literature in the field or to return
to prior postings written by them or other participants about a
particular topic, which might add to the online discussions.
Quantitative Da t a Presentation
It can be observed that the majority of the postings (32%/125)
were concerned with Life/Logistics (personal life situations or
logistics of field experience and/or training program). The next
most-common theme was “Demonstrating self awareness” (25%/
100). The third most-common theme was “Discussing instruc-
tional approaches, teaching methods and strategies used” (22%/
88). The next three themes only made up 21% of the total.
These were “Asking questions about teaching and requests for
advice from peers and the trainer” (7%/28), “Content Knowl-
edge” (4%/16) and “discussing broader issues in education”
Qualitative D ata Pres ent a tion
The Application of the Model Constructed
The following is a successful double loop learning reflection
by a trainee emerging from the “model for developing teacher
reflective practice online”. This posting is an example of the
10% or 40 examples gathered of the topic “Discussing broader
issues in education”, which can be considered as the desired
outcome of the double loop learning process.
At first, in the single loop section, the trainee’s reflections
focus on classroom management details such as correct macro-
planning and timing of lessons as well as the importance of
setting up routines. Therefore, these reflections focus entirely
on classroom matters. With the double loop learning cycle re-
flections, the belief system can be seen to have undergone a
change, moving from wanting to create a more controlled
teaching and classroom regime to wanting a more creative one
by making learning more engaging. It is evident that this is the
beginning of an “emergent knowing”, which could lead to a
whole shift in paradigm. Finishing the lesson on time is no
longer the focus of attention. The trainee’s understanding of the
problem has evolved as he realizes that it was not the real issue.
The real issue was the amount of teacher talking time and con-
sequently, the lack of student talking time. The emerging un-
derstanding is one that seeks to facilitate student communica-
tion and collaboration in the L2 and foster good citizens
through the development of focused discussions on important
life issues. This is quite a move away from the original issue of
timing. It demonstrates the potential for empowerment of the
double loop learning cycle. Using Sparks-Langer et al.’s (1990)
framework, examples of level 6 “explanation with princi-
ple/theory and consideration of contextual factors such as stu-
dent characteristics, subject matter, or community factors” and
level 7 “explanation with consideration of ethical, moral or
political issues” are both present. Student characteristics are
part of the reflection as the trainee discusses that they tend to
enjoy more opportunity for communication in class. Ethical and
Daloglu & Valli com bination: “I had learnt from my studies that there is
a strong linkage between the curriculum, syllabus, module,unit and each
lesson. If stages are well-linked,students are led to a deeper and deepe
understanding of the topic. According to Doff (2000: p. 98) , stagesre f er to
the main focus of the activity.
Testing: “ From teaching, I have learnt that even in one lesson, a set rou-
tine for my class could benefit my teaching and save time during the lesson.
Setting classroom procedures can help the smooth running of instructiona
activities and reduce the frequency which teachers need to give instruc-
tions fo r daily cl assroo m events ’ (Hue & Li, 2008). Most of my les
ons now
start with a quiz on the topic from the previous session or a checking o
homework. Students are able to use the time before I come to class to revise
the topic.
Generalization: “A good lesson should be timed appropriately as I un-
derstand students do not like to spend the whole recess with the teacher stil
teaching. With the help of good lesson planning and good use of classroom
management skills, a lesson shou ld be able to end o n time.
Post testing: “Students of mine gave me comments on my teaching at the
end of th is week. They told me t hat I did a great job in finishing the l esson
on time. I think that through good planning, the time for teacher talk can be
minimized and allow students to express their ideas more and to practise
what they have learnt. This should encourage all the students to talk more
in English. And I think my students enjoyed this very much as they even
asked me to allow them to stay after school to practise the interview ques-
tions we wrote.
Paradigm shift: “This is a more student-centered approach to teaching.
think that too much time is used by the teacher in class. In my school, stu-
dents use Cantonese not English to learn their other subjects. They are no
orced to use English in school. So,it is important to give students time to
ractice and learn to communicate in E nglish with each other.
New understanding: “In traditional classrooms, teachers take up ove
80% of the talking time (Walsh , 2006). They are concerned with exams an
covering the content of the syllabus. But I believe our role is to develop
students communication and collaboration skills through group discus-
sions. These discussions should be about important issues to help students
orm opini ons. T his he lps t o make the child a good citizen. So I think tha t i
teacher talking time is well-managed, it can be reduced to allow students
more practice time.
political issues are present as part of the reflection as the trainee
discusses his role of forming good citizens who can express
their opinions about important subjects. Thus, through the dou-
ble loop learning cycle, the trainee has gone beyond theories of
social learning and scaffolding to how the classroom can adopt
more communitarian values. One might say that there is the
root of democracy in the trainee’s posting.
The Application of Socratic Dialogue
Socratic dialogue was found to be a skilful practice in an
asynchronous environment. The following moves in this order
were found to be most effective:
1) Phase 1
Through embedding comments, teacher educators should
first demonstrate that they have a clear understanding of the
trainee’s problem by empathizing and then restating the prob-
lem in their own words. This builds trust and confidence in the
teacher educator’s guidance is fostered.
2) Phase 2
The teacher educator embeds questions which encourage re-
flection and guide trainees to explore other ways of seeing a
problem. This is done to enable trainees to entertain new ways
of seeing.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 185
Below is an example of phases 1 and 2:
Jade: “I planned to teach grammar (expressing time, place and manner)
and letter writing in the first week. But after the first lesson in which I onl
inished 1/5 of my lesson plan, I realized that students couldnt learn too
much in one lesson.”
Trainer: “I always did that too when I started out teachingin fact,I stil
over-plan!!! Can you keep what youve planned for the next lesson?”
3) Phase 3
The third phase is to move reflections on. To do this, certain
moves were found more effective than others: these were the
“probe”, “inform” (both fact an d opinion) and ask/clarify moves.
In addition, moves such as “eliciting other trainees” facts/opin-
ions’ and asking for consensus on topics were found to be ef-
fective in constructing participant interaction and building col-
laborative learning. The data below reveals how these were
embedded over a period of 5 days.
In this section, the quantitative data will first be examined.
Then, new learning evident in the qualitative data from the
model applied will be discussed; in particular, how the applica-
tion of this model online, rather than through traditional paper
journaling is effective. Following on from that, the problems
encountered and the solutions applied when using the Argyris
and Schon double loop learning cycle will be discussed.
Analysis of Q uantitati ve Da ta
Similarly to Simonsen, Luebeck & Bicean’s (2009) findings,
this research demonstrates that trainees are overwhelmingly
concerned with the practical problems that they face during
their first intensive practicum experience such as timetabling
and classroom practice. This is probably because of their inex-
perience in the field, which leaves them little time to focus on
broader issues involved in their practices. That said, “self aware-
ness” constituted a large percentage of the topics discussed.
This category is a part of the single loop learning cycle and it
demonstrates that there was an effective application of the cycle
offered by Argyris and Schön (1978), in particular, “My com-
ments on and reactions to the intervention that I have just car-
ried out”. Thus, participants were actively involved in action
research cycles.
Analysis of Qualitative Data
New Learning Applying the Online Model
Feedback from learners at the end of each case study made it
very clear that because they were able to read and re-read post-
ings and discussions applying the online model for developing
reflection spread out from the beginning to the end of the block
practice period, new learning was effectively facilitated. This is
because participants used this data to aid them in the final re-
flective practice assignments that they were required to write.
In other words, trainees were able to analyze how their knowl-
edge and understandings had been built progressively during
the eight weeks of each case study. Participants who scored
highly on Sparks-Langer et al.’s (1990) framework noted that
this opportunity for retrospection was significant for the devel-
opment of critical reflection. This is significant because
Day 1:
Jade: “I planned to teach grammar (expressing time, place and manner)
and letter writing in the first week. But after the first lesson in which I onl
inished 1/5 of my lesson plan, I realized that students couldnt learn too
much in one lesson.”
Trainer: “I always did that too when I started out teachingin fact, I stil
over-plan!!! Can you keep what youve planned for the next lesson? It
good that you decided not to do the final activity (encourage): that is some-
thing that a lot of teachers do not do. They really want to finish their plan
no matter what (inform/fact). Did you feel disappointed? (Probe) What di
you find was the reason for not finishing your plan? (Probe) Could there
have been too much material to get through? It is common to over-estimate
studentsabilities? Its also common to spend too long on an activity.
Jade: “All of these! And I didnt plan for taking the register at the begin-
ning or playing a game. The students said their teacher plays games with
them if they work hard so we played a game near the end of the class.”
Trainer: “The register can often be time-consuming. Sometimes you can
do it quietly and quickly when the students are involved in a task during the
lesson. (Inform/fact). Do the students want to play games every lesson?
Jade: “I think it is a bit difficult to play games every lesson. I will try to
make games a part of the lessons but maybe not every lesson.”
Trainer: “How about other people? Have you found the same? Is there
any advice any of you can offer?” (Eliciting other traineesfacts or opin-
Day 2:
Jasmine: “I also have too high expectations for students. A teacher from
the UK told me to never take anything, including what students know fo
Jenny: “I agreeit
very difficult judging how much to teach during a
lessonespecially before you know your class.”
Day 3:
Jade: “I have revisited my scheme of work and I taught 3/5 of my plan in
my 2nd lesson.I am improving in my time management which I think is ver
important. I lost my sense of time during lessons.”
Day 4:
Trainer: “Thats great to hear. Time goes so fast when you have to dea
with so much at once. (Inform/opinion) What do you think about the heav
syllabus you are asked to teach? (Probe) How many of you would like more
time to try out innovative practices and experiment with things you learne
during your course?” (A s king for consensus on topics)
Day 5:
Jenny: “I have had to teach a lot of worksheets on grammar. I would like
my classes to be much more flexible so I could experiment more.”
the online program is not merely concerned with the final
product of learning, which is often the sole concern of the tradi-
tional, paper journaling method. It is more process-oriented,
learning-centered pedagogy. This relates to social constructivist
pedagogy (Bruner, 1961; Glasersfeld, 1989; Vygotsky, 1978;
Wertsch, 1997) and is a major characteristic of recent trends in
the use of technology for educational purposes. In addition,
feedback from participants on the asynchronous nature of the
online environment made it clear that it was possible for these
trainees as English language users to concentrate more on the
grammar of their messages as well as the content of their re-
flections during online discussions than they would if these
interactions were face to face. It was made clear that this too
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
had helped trainees to construct more critical analyses of their
experiences and relate these to their peers. They were also more
able to offer more considered replies in discussions to their
peers. Thus, the quality of the content of the interaction was
greater than it would have been through normal face to face
Problems Participants Experienced Working with
the Double Loop Learning Cycle
The first difficulty participants encountered stems from
transforming the dialectical content of experiential learning
theory to a more abstract form of understanding through the
process of generalization. Kolb (1984) refers to this process as
“abstract reconceptualization”. In order to generalize, trainees
need to move into the realm of theory and to seek out new in-
formation from external sources which will help them to de-
velop ideas about their experiences.
Through this research, it has been made evident that one
method to guide trainees through the process of “abstract
reconceptualization”, and scaffold the “generalization” phase of
the cycle is to make explicit the fact that trainees should link
their experiences with expert opinion from the relevant teacher
training literature in the field. One effective way of doing this is
by highlighting Valli’s notions of “dialectical” and “delibera-
tive” reflection. By raising awareness of this distinction, train-
ees were better equipped to understand that expert practitioners
rely on both at all times to help them. It is this researcher’s
opinion that deliberative reflection empowers the trainees be-
cause it substantiates their intuitive knowing by making evident
that their understandings are shared and have a history. In addi-
tion, it increases knowledge by offering discussions on the
same problems that trainees are facing and discusses further
strategies already proven to deal with these. In the example
trainee posting above, the notion of “stages” has been applied to
deliberative reflection. The trainee cites an expert who describes
“stages” as the “main focus of the activity”. For a trainee who
mus t l ear n ho w to write lesson plans for important observation s,
this kind of knowledge is quintessential. What terms do I use in
the lesson plan to describe the procedure of teaching and learn-
ing? Should I use “events”, “activities”, “parts”, “sections” or
“stages”? Through recourse to deliberation, the trainee’s ques-
tion has been answered.
The second difficulty encountered is the lack of scaffolding
for the transfer between the single and double loop learning
cycle. Within the single loop learning cycle, trainees are re-
quired to ask: “this is what happened” -> “this is what might
work to deal with it” -> “was my intervention effective?”
However, the ‘working with meaning’ is more complex be-
cause in order for trainees to transfer to the double loop learn-
ing cycle, a second further removed past tense is required. Par-
ticipants need to ask themselves what they have learned from
the experience. This requires a stepping back from the experi-
ence and rediscovering the learning event as vividly as possible
so that a re-evaluation of that experience can take place. This is
then followed by linking this “emergent knowing” to a “new
paradigm” or new belief system constructed based on reflection
on action. This “new paradigm” should seek to understand the
ex- perience by considering much broader issues than those
found in the classroom such as community factors and ethical,
moral or political issues. It is evident that this is a complex
process of reflection. To scaffold the procedure, a stepping
stone was provided bridging the single and double loop learn-
ing cycles. On the template (see Figure 2), there is a post-test-
ing 1 and a post-testing 2 phase. This was designed to enable
trainees to function within these 2 past time frames. The
post-testing 2 reflection can then be connected to the “emergent
knowing”, which then, through skilful application of Socratic
dialogue, can further be extended to facilitate new understand-
ings. For this research, the use of Socratic dialogue to guide
trainees to deeper learning was found to be essential.
Benefits of Applying Socratic Dialogue
Phases 1 and 2 are demonstrated clearly in the example dia-
logue between this researcher and a trainee. The teacher educa-
tor’s response is minimal but it reveals how understanding and
empathy were provided at the outset. By applying the term
“over-plan”, the trainer sums up the trainee’s posting to demon-
strate understanding of the main message. The trainer then pro-
vides empathy by stating that he too makes the same mist ake as
do many others. This helps to generalize the problem. The “en-
courage and enable” phase was effectuated by working with
meaning and guiding the trainee to understand that perhaps now
it was possible to further micro-plan what has already been
prepared. In other words, work out how to make the rest of
what has been planned extend over more lessons.
It can be observed from the second set of data on Socratic
dialogue that it is feasible to conduct asynchronous discourse
with several trainees at once over several days. As already
noted, phase 3 consists of various moves. These can be used to
guide trainees to think beyond the classroom to understand their
experiences in light of new potential understandings. This is the
crux of the double loop learning cycle. In this example, the
trainer guides trainees to notice that they have very busy sched-
ules given to them by their schools where they are being placed.
They are therefore experiencing time management issues. This
of course brings into question what the practicum is for. Is it for
training pre-service teachers to copy older in-service teachers
(learning what might be called knowledge of practice and the
maintenance of the status quo), or is it to provide trainees with
an environment in which they can apply the conceptual and
practical knowledge that they have learned during their studies
at their institute or university of education and develop their
own understandings of their contexts and their own teacher
identities? In this case, the constraints that they are subjected to
prevent innovation, action research, and fundamental change in
teaching practice from the bottom-up.
Limitations of the Study
Content Analysis
As with any action research project supplying qualitative
data, there are limitations. This research was of a relatively
small size: only 3 8-week case studies were conducted. Had the
research taken place over a much longer time frame, the tools
used for content analysis would be more valid because there
would be more samples to use for standardization. In addition,
for data grouping the thematic analyses conducted could be
critiqued for subjectivity. To deal with this issue, sample post-
ings of the coding categories were subjected to inter-rater reli-
ability. Another rater was asked to categorize ten random sam-
ples for coding stage 1 (topic of reflection) and ten random
samples for coding stage 2 (level of critical reflection) and in-
ter-rater reliability was high for both. The rater agreed with
nine decisions out of ten made for stage 1 and all 10 decisions
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 187
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
made for stage 2.
The application of the model for ‘developing teacher reflec-
tive practice online’ has been created to facilitate genuine,
critical reflection which fosters personal empowerment leading
to self transformation and potential societal change from the
bottom-up. The online environment with its particular charac-
teristics aided the effectiveness of this model. This was because
learners were able to focus on the learning process as much as
the product required. They were also able to share and build
ideas and opinions together and to communicate asynchro-
nously. This enabled them to reflect more than they might
while enacting face to face interaction. Further research might
focus on the process of systematically deconstructing this
model developed to report how this was done and the kind of
challenges faced by trainees during the removal of these scaf-
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