Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education


Praise for the previous edition: "This is a passionate and practical book" Teaching in Higher Education "This book offers valuable insights into a process for becoming a reflective learner and for developing students into reflective learners as well." Studies in Higher EducationThis significantly revised edition includes the most current thinking on reflective learning as well as stories from academics and students that bring to life the practical impact of reflection in action. Based on sound theoretical concepts, the authors offer a range of solutions for different teaching situations, taking into account factors such as group size, physical space, and technology. They also offer facilitation rather than traditional teaching methods as a productive and useful skill that helps teachers and encourages students to interact and develop reflexive skills that can be used beyond their student years. Based on rigorous theories, Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education offers new insights for university and college teachers seeking to enhance or diversify their practices and allows them to effectively facilitate their students' reflective learning.


When we compiled our first edition for publication in 1998, reflective learning was just being adopted in higher education, albeit at the margins. The situation and the context is very different today.

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) had just been established, Dearing had just been published and there was to be further incipient expansion of higher education. We have investigated the spread and adoption of reflective learning since that period. For example we examined the QAA Subject benchmark statements for honours degrees. Out of 46 subjects, 21 subject areas mention reflective learning or reflective practice. This represents a step change compared to earlier usage. The advent of benchmark statements as a precursor to developing honours degree programmes was itself an advance.

We are conscious that mention of the terms in guidance notes is not a mark of usage. This approach to learning is more recognized in rhetoric than reality. For example staff who have completed the Certificate or Diploma in Teaching and Learning, a recommended training passage for new entrants to higher education, often refer to reflective practice with a sigh verging on a groan as if it were an imposition, not as a normal part of the learning process which they will subsequently use in their academic work with student learners. For others reflective learning and practice is something they do on the Certificate programme but is not taken back and integrated into their discipline, although no-one knows for sure as at a recent conference, traditional teaching was informally described as 'a relationship between consenting adults carried out behind closed doors'.

Bourner et al. (2003) examined course documentation for new or existing teachers in 36 of the 70 English universities and assessed their declared teaching and learning method. Findings suggest that the majority of courses adopt practice within the 'student-development' paradigm as opposed to the 'subject development' paradigm (Becher et al., 1994). So teaching and learning methods like mentoring, workshops, learning contracts, etc. are more used than lectures and seminars, described as 'the . . .

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