As Smyth (1992:285) argues:
‘reflection can mean different things to different people’it is used as a sort of covering term to signify something desirable or good ‘people have their own (usually undisclosed) interpretation or result of what reflection is all about, and they are used as the basis for trumpeting the virtues of reflection.
‘thinking about thinking’ was how Dewey (1933) first described reflection, he advocated that teachers should examine the underlying rationale for their choices. Reflection took on a wider meaning in the early 1980’s when the term ‘reflective practice’ was coined by Schon (1983) he argued that professionals face unique and complex circumstances in their everyday practice, and such are unsolvable alone by technical rational approaches. Professionals become aware of their implicit knowledge base and learn from their experience. This he suggested is reflective practice, and it serves as an important learning strategy. Kolb (1984) was able to relate the significance reflection had in learning to experiential learning. The experiential learner moved from a level of concrete experience to a level of abstract conceptualization of it, further action leading to further experience, is then based on it this he suggested was enabled by reflection.
Two types of reflection were identified by Schon (1987): reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action this occurs when there is a reflect on behavior as it happens by the person, this optimizes the person’s immediate actions. On the other hand, reflection-on-action is reflection that occurs after the event has taken place, thereby giving the person the opportunity to describe, review, analyze and evaluate the situation, in order to improved practice in the future as a result of insight gained. The term recollective was used by Van Manen (1991) as reflection which he compares with Schon’s reflection-on-action. Moreover, he describes an anticipatory reflection (reflection before an event) that ‘helps people to approach situations in an organized, decision-making, (1991:101) reflection-in-action cannot take place because we usually do not have the time or opportunity to reflect.
Reflective practice Conceptualizations focuses primarily on reflection-on-action (or recollective reflection) in teacher education literature. Three key stages in the reflective processes are identified generally by this literature. The realization that, in a given situation, the knowledge that one was applying was not sufficient in itself to explain what was happening. Is the first stage of inner discomfort (Boyd and Fales, 1983) or surprise (Schon, 1991). A critical analysis of the situation is involved in the second stage. This may include generation of new knowledge, examination of knowledge and feelings. A new perspective on the situation is involved in the final stage of development.
Benefits of reflective practice
Becoming increasingly popular in higher education is a reflective practice course, more especially in professional qualifications programs. Stewart et al (2000) suggest that reflective practitioner is the learning outcome every student in higher education should desire because it is equipped with skills of lifelong learning. The ability of students to identify their own learning needs and take responsibility for
As Smyth (1992:285) argues: