Varying the focus of reflective journals and the nature of reflective dialogue during a teacher education practicum

Year: 1997

Author: Bain, John, Mills, Colleen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper investigates the use of reflective journals to facilitate student learning during a teacher education practicum. Thirty-five student teachers undertaking a one-year Graduate Diploma of Education submitted weekly journal entries during their eleven-week practicum and were interviewed at several stages about their educational beliefs and practices. Students were randomly assigned to four intervention conditions which varied the type of journalling strategy (experiential or cognitive) and the nature of reflective dialogue based on journal entries (supervised dialogue or self-reflection). The evidence reported here includes the content and quality of students' reflections, the effects of the intervention conditions, and students' perceptions of the value of journalling. Although there was some evidence that students found it easier to write an experiential than a cognitive journal, there were no overall differences in the quality of reflection achieved under the two conditions. Students in the self-reflection condition attained a higher level of written reflection than those receiving supervised dialogue, suggesting that the benefits of oral reflection may not carry over into the written domain. The impact of written feedback, however, was significant and needs to be further explored. Students generally were positive about the value of journalling in learning to teach.