Reflective Practice (Teaching and Learning)

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What is a "reflective practice"? [1] Donald Schon (1983[2] and 1987[3]), Stephen Brookfield (1995)[4], and Parker J. Palmer (1993)[5] would all maintain that effective instructors have a responsibility to reflect on their practice regularly in order to improve, renew, and grow - both personally and professionally.

Reflective Practice in Teaching and Learning

Reflective Journals [6]

What are reflective journals?

Reflective journals are a sustained individual reflective effort by students, often every week during a course. They are tools to connect theory learned from textbooks and research articles to the students' own practice, either as a cognitive, professional development and/or artistic endeavour. It can also be a tool to assess or gain a sense of the student's growth and development

Potential journal topic ideas

  • Key events during learning (e.g. critical incidents in medical training)
  • Reflection on their learning in specific topics
  • Summarize some assigned reading and it's place in the broader course context

Implementing reflective journals

Comparing online and paper-based journals
Online Paper-based
  • Easily browsed
  • Connect has a built-in journal tool
  • Can easily add online media
  • More appropriate for other contexts
  • Can easily write reflections, draw diagrams and paste in images
Best Practices: Journals as Summative Course Work
  • Have clear expectations from the outset, ideally with a grading rubric for student reference.
  • Include an opportunity for students to describe or reflect on their growth by considering the progression of journal entries over time.
  • Either apply a rubric directly to the journal itself, or require a final paper/project that includes points for the incorporation of the accumulated journal work.

Reflective Practices and the ISW

During the ISW workshop the participants will be engaged in ta variety of roles. The workshop requires considerable time for individual participation as well as participation in all mini-lesson cycles. Thus, it is often challenging for the participants to find the time to pause and reflect on their learning. In order to gain the most from this experience, the participants are provided with materials and worksheets to guide their thinking.

Selected bibliography

Link to Complete Bibliography
For a complete bibliography, please visit the CTLT's shared folder on Refworks.

Having problems? Visit the RefWorks information guide.

  • Alcione N Ostorga. (2006). Developing teachers who are reflective practitioners: A complex process. Issues in Teacher Education, 15(2), 5.Ubc-elink.png
  • Copeland, W. D., Birmingham, C., de la Cruz, E., & Lewin, B. (1993). The reflective practitioner in teaching: Toward a research agenda. Teaching and Teacher Education, 9(4), 347-359.Ubc-elink.png
  • Daniels, D. C. (2002). Becoming a reflective practitioner. what research says. Middle School Journal, 33(5), 52-56.Permalink.svg Permalink
  • DiRanna, K. (2008). Assessment-centered teaching: A reflective practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: WestEd.Ubc-elink.png
  • Edwards, G., & Thomas, G. (2010). Can reflective practice be taught? EDUCATIONAL STUDIES, 36(4), 403-414.Ubc-elink.png
  • Leshem, S., & Trafford, V. (2006). Stories as mirrors: Reflective practice in teaching and learning. Reflective Practice, 7(1), 9-27.Ubc-elink.png
  • Loughran, J. (1996). Developing reflective practice: Learning about teaching and learning through modelling. Washington, D.C: Falmer Press.Ubc-elink.png
  • Middleton, M., Abrams, E., & Seaman, J. (2011). Resistance and disidentification in reflective practice with preservice teaching interns. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2011(126), 67-75.Permalink.svg Permalink
  • Miller, S. (2004). What's going on? parallel process and reflective practice in teaching. Reflective Practice, 5(3), 383-393.Ubc-elink.png
  • Richards, J. C., & Farrell, T. S. C. (2011). Practice teaching: A reflective approach. New York: Cambridge University Press.Ubc-elink.png
  • Sandy Watson, Ted Miller, Lloyd Davis, & Pamala Carter. (2010). Teachers' perceptions of the effective teacher. Research in the Schools, 17(2), 11.Ubc-elink.png
  • Shadiow, L. K. (2013). What our stories teach us: A guide to critical reflection for colllege faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Templer, W. A. (2010). Reflective teaching. Evidence‐informed professional practice. European Journal of Teacher Education, 33(3), 332-335.Ubc-elink.png


  1. The information on this page is made available with the permission from the ISW International Advisory Committee
  2. Schon, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books.
  3. Schon, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  4. Brookfield, s. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.
  5. Palmer, P. J. (1993). "Good Talk About Good Teaching: Improving Teaching through Conversation". Change 25 (6), 8-13.
  6. Note: The information is based on personal experiences of members of the Course Design Community of Practice during their Nov. 22, 2012 meeting.

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