Reflection and Learning From Experience

Stevens, D. D., & Cooper, J. E. (2009). Journal keeping: How to use reflective writing for learning, teaching, professional insight, and positive change. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Chapter 2: Reflection and Learning from Experience

·      Three Leading Theoretical Perspectives on Reflection and Learning From Experience

o   John Dewey (1859-1952): Experience, Reflection, and Learning

§  According to John Dewey, the characteristics of an experience are interaction, beyond participation in activities, and connected to knowledge from previous experiences.

§  "Learning, therefore, is a continuous and cumulative process. Prior learning becomes the fodder for further understanding and insight (p. 21)."

§  "Reflection starts with discomfort during and experience and leads a person to a balanced state. It takes time and focus to reach clarity of thought (p. 21)."

o   David Kolb (1939 -    ): Reflection and an Experiential Learning Model

§  Kolb has a cycle to describe his theory of experiential learning: Concrete experience è Reflective observation è Abstract conceptualization è Active experimentation

§  The authors relate journal writing to Kolb's theory: "When students or faculty keep a journal, they are capturing a concrete experience in a written form. During writing, journal writers can readily examine their concrete experiences, and even step back and reflect on how those observations might relate to other experiences. To extend the learning further, during abstract conceptualization the writing can be reread and analyzed for underlying assumptions and beliefs that contribute to positive outcomes (Boud, 2001; Brookfield, 1995; Hatcher & Bringle, 1997)."

o   D. A. Schon (1930 - 1997): Reflection and Professional Practice

§  Schon coined two terms: reflection-on-practice and reflection-in-practice

§  The authors discuss his theory: "In this process of reflection (meaning both in-action and on-action), novice professionals develop the theories-in-use that underlie competent, expert decision making (p. 27)."

·      How These Theoretical Perspectives Link to Journal Writing

o   Two themes from the three theoretical perspectives:

§  "Reflection occurs in a cycle of action-reflection-action.

§  Reflection contributes to the development of valued human capabilities (p. 28)."

o   How Does Reflection Occur? The Action-Reflection-Action Cycle

§  "Journal writing promotes a cycle of reflection, experience, reflection, and ultimately learning through observation of the self in action (p. 28)."

o   Why is Reflection Worthwhile? Development of Valued Human Capabilities

§  "Through the development of reflective capacity and the habit of reflective thinking the student or professional achieves certain broader, more lasting outcomes as well (p. 29)."

§  "Journal-writing activities document the thinking and observations of writers, allow writers to go back and review their thinking, acknowledge their own misconceptions, and adjust their thinking accordingly (p. 29)."

Works Cited:

Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. In L. M. English & M. A. Gillen (Eds.), Promoting journal writing in adult education: New directions for adult and continuing education, No. 90 (pp. 9-17). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

 Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hatcher, J. A., & Bringle, R. G. (1997). Reflection. College Teaching, 45(4), 153-159.