Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

By Anne Brockbank; Ian McGill | Go to book overview
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Academic Practice and Learning

Our purpose in this chapter is to place our approach to facilitating learning in the institutional context. To this end we examine existing and espoused academic practices in respect of teaching and learning and underline the relevance of our approaches to the purposes of higher education. Following from this is the question of how academic staff can utilize these approaches to maintain their own professional development. We present some examples, including new technologies, where reflective practice is used within the new framework for excellence in teaching and learning. Finally, we examine the potential response of the institutions themselves.

While it is a comment of its time we could not resist recalling a phrase by Dewey that we came upon in our explorations (Boydston, 1969: 301). Although he was mainly concerned with primary and secondary education in the USA, Dewey wrote: 'The higher institutions are freighted with a definite body of tradition.' Here we take 'freighted' to mean laden with a substantial cargo. Higher education represents an extraordinary capacity to extend understanding, knowledge and innovation. However, in respect of the practice relating to teaching and learning the institutions do tend to be freighted with methods that have an unerring continuity and resistance to change. We examine more closely some of the possible reasons for the continuity of the freighted traditions in respect of teaching processes.

Existing practice

We have referred in Chapter 4 to endeavouring to open up the 'black box' of process. Since the first edition the black box is less opaque and we aim to show how. Initially, we examine that part of the box which is about academic practice in relation to teaching and learning. We incorporate some examplars with recommendations for future practice.

We have shown in Part 1 that in any teaching and learning situation the teacher will be modelling a process that will affect the relationship between


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