Reflexivity in Higher Education

Year: 2019

Author: McDonald, Janet, Baguley, Margaret

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Australian universities seek to enhance graduate attributes to include notions of critical and creative reflective expansion throughout their programs. A simple online search reveals that Federation University, University of Notre Dame, Charles Darwin University, University of Sydney and Griffith University, for example, all highlight the importance of reflection, critical and creative innovation as key attributes of their graduates. While there is extensive literature about the importance of reflection, Harvey (2016) states it is often inconsistent, undertaken in disciplinary silos, and makes ‘minimal reference to pedagogical theory’ (p. 1). Creative Arts and Education are two of the multiple discipline areas represented in USQ’s Teaching and Assessing reflection (TAR) project. One aspect of reflection we seek to interrogate further is the notion of reflexivity. This is evident and encouraged in disciplines such as Creative Arts, Education, Law and Nursing. The emphasis on practice and work-integrated learning encourage transformative pedagogies that arise from collaborative, relational and critical experiences encountered during practice (Alter et al., 2009). Reflexivity encompasses the nuances and richness of complex interactions at the site of practice than can foster transformational thinking. Hibbert, et al. (2010) contend that reflexivity is reflective but also recursive, a process of ‘critical reflection that changes itself’ (pp. 807-808). Similarly, McIntosh and Webb (2006) discuss reflexivity as having ‘an ongoing conversation about experience whilst at the same time living in the moment’ which engages in the ‘construction of interpretations of experiences, and question how those interpretations came about’ (pp. 6-7). Overall, reflexivity may locate its potency in the considered actions of a practitioner who can simultaneously engage ‘in’ and ‘as’ as knowledge emerges from the site of making. Our presentation will provide evidence of our experiences of this phenomenon in order to assist in increasing the output of these necessary examples of reflexive processes for a range of practitioners.


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