Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education

By Anne Brockbank; Ian McGill | Go to book overview

15
Conclusion

In this second edition we have revisited some of our earlier sources and discovered recent developments in how learning is now perceived in higher education. In particular we have examined how reflective learning is being addressed and sometimes achieved in university programmes. We are heartened by a variety of recent work which confirms our stated philosophy and recommendations for reflective learning through reflective dialogue which is supported and targeted (Kahn et at., 2006). The presence of reflective practice in postgraduate programmes for new academic staff is a welcome and important factor in the transformation mentioned by Bourner et at. (2003).

Directors of postgraduate programmes for teachers in HE are reported as 'facing a particular challenge in assisting new academic staff to develop expertise in applying reflective processes in their practice' (Kahn et at., 2006, p. 61) and recommendations include the suggestion that programmes should declare their reflective outcomes explicitly, and these should be aligned with assessment, attendance and accrediation (op cit., p. 63). Our methods are not the only ones available to help here but we hope they will offer teachers in higher eduation an alternative approach to the traditional pedagogy of the past.

Working as a facilitator is more risky and vulnerable than teaching through a didactic format. We do show more of ourselves. In showing more of ourselves we are also being more transparent and potentially authentic. In engaging in this way we are doing no more than we are asking of the learners who come into higher education. This is not to suggest that facilitation implies a flabby, self-indulgent and unstructured approach to working with students. Facilitators have a distinct and rigorous role in taking responsibility for creating the conditions conducive to reflective learning. Hence our attention to such detail earlier. Research supports the view that rigorous facilitation is necessary if learners are to benefit from reflective dialogue:

It has become clear that learning from experience is difficult without
expert, coordinated facilitation, and programmes need to ensure

-335-

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