A mirror has many faces: Negotiating a classroom community of learners through reflection

Year: 2001

Author: Pressick-Kilborn, Kimberley

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Pedagogical approaches developed from Vygotskian and neo-Vygotskian theories emphasise the importance of reflection within the learning process. Through focusing on the ways in which language socially and culturally constructs the experiences and emerging identities of learners, reflective writing and discussion create vehicles for scaffolding students’ classroom-based learning. Students are able to assume increased responsibility for their learning through a heightened awareness of both personal and shared meanings, as well as metacognitive strategies, as they move towards becoming ‘experts’ within the classroom community.

This paper will consider possibilities for supporting students’ reflection through sharing the experiences of one fifth grade class currently engaged in learning science as a community of learners and participating in an ethnographic research project. In this project, strategies to encourage reflection have included journal writing, two-way postcards, use of the left-hand side of the page of class work books, peer interviews and collective reflection through class discussions. Qualitative analysis of fieldnotes, reflective writing and interviews strongly suggests that students need specific ‘thinking time’ in order to engage in productive reflection. The students’ awareness of their learning and feelings about learning is evident, but articulation of analytical thinking is more limited. We conclude that reflection appears to be an important activity towards negotiating this classroom learning community because of the challenges to students’ and teachers’ identities as learners.