Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Critical Reflection: A Case Study of Fashion Consumerism

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Critical Reflection: A Case Study of Fashion Consumerism

Article excerpt

Literature Review

What is Critical Reflection?

The development of reflective capabilities is claimed as a goal in many higher education programs, but a review of literature on reflection reveals that the concept is ill-defined and there is little agreement about what reflection is. This is mainly due to the fact that the background theory of reflection is complex and wide-ranging, with various generic discipline perspectives presenting multiple interpretations of the processes involved (Henderson, Napan, & Monteiro, 2004; Moon, 2001).

Reflection in the context of learning is used as a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage in to explore their experiences in order to lead to new understanding and appreciations (Boud & Walker, 1993, p. 19). Others referred to the common sense view of reflection as:

a form of mental processing--like a form of thinking--that we use to fulfill a purpose or to achieve some anticipated outcome. It is applied to relatively complicated or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution and is largely based on the further processing of knowledge and understanding an possibly emotions that we already possess. (Moon, 2001, p. 2)

Reflection can be theorised in many ways. Amongst the theoretical approaches to reflection, the work of John Dewey (1933) and Jurgen Habermas (1971) are regarded as the "backbone" of the study of reflection (Moon, 1999). Dewey (1933) is the originator of the concept of reflection as an aspect of learning and education. His work is concerned with the nature of reflection and how it occurs--the skills by which people manipulate knowledge or reprocess it towards a purpose. His definition has been widely used, and is:

   Active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or
   supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support
   it and the further conclusion to which it tends. (p. 9)

Dewey inspired reflection in education to foster pragmatic and instrumental improvement, whereas based on the critical social theory, Habermas inspired reflection in education to foster liberation and emancipation.

Habermas uses reflection to clarify and develop epistemological issues in the sociology of knowledge. He is concerned with the nature of the knowledge that humans have selected to adopt or the nature of knowledge that human beings, by reason of their human condition, have been motivated to generate. In his theory of Cognitive Interests, drawn from ideas of the relationship between knowledge and human interests, Habermas introduces three distinct orientations of knowledge: instrumental (technical knowledge), communicative (practical knowledge), and emancipatory (critical knowledge). Habermas (1971) focuses on the nature of the different processes that underlie the generation of these forms of knowledge, and reflection is one of these processes.

Habermas perceives reflection as a tool used in the development of knowledge constitutive interests--the emancipatory knowledge, where the emancipatory knowledge should contribute to the emancipation of social groups from self-imposed and external constraints, conditions of distorted communication, and environmental constraints. Emancipatory interests rely on the development of knowledge via critical or evaluative modes of thought and enquiry (critical reflection) so as to understand the self, the human condition, and the self in the human context. The acquisition of such knowledge is aimed at producing a transformation in the self, or in the personal, social, or world situation or any combination of these (Moon, 2001).

In Habermas' epistemology, emancipatory knowledge is conceptualised as knowledge that enables human beings to emancipate themselves from forms of domination through critical self-reflection, which takes critical social theory as the psychoanalytical paradigm of critical knowledge. …

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