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(Griffiths, 2000, p. 541). He believed that reflection-in-action occurs when professionals encounter a situation that is exceptional or contains an element of surprise. Instead of resorting to past experience or referring to existing theories, “professionals draw on their repertoire of examples to reframe the situation and find new solutions. This in itself generates new reflection-in-action in a spiraling process” (Griffiths, 2000, p. 541). According to Schon (1987; cited in Griffiths, 2000) there are three key features in the process of reflection-in-action:
1. conscious (though not necessarily articulated in words);
2. critical, involving questioning and restructuring; and
3. immediate, giving rise to on-the-spot experiment and new actions (p. 541).
According to Schon, “these features are not always distinct or separate, and can be compressed together depending on the time frame in operation; however, ‘the immediate significance for action’ (p. 29) is central (Griffiths, 2000, p. 541).
Reflection-on-action, on the other hand, “is similar to Dewey’s notion of reflection. This form of reflection is seen as ‘the systematic and deliberate thinking back over one’s actions'” (Loughran, 1996, p. 6). It “implies inquiry into the schemata which lay at the basis of one’s actions” (Korthagen, 1993, p. 134). Unlike reflection-in-action, which has an instantaneous nature (Hatton & Smith, 1995), reflection-on-action deals with dilemmas retrospectively. In other words, after the actual action, the teacher looks back over what happened and seeks the underlying reasons why things happened in the manner that they did. Following this step, he or she looks for a solution in different ways, changes the action for the next time accordingly, and evaluates the feedback. As Jay and Johnson stated, during reflection-on-action “several common processes seem to take place, including describing the situation, surfacing and questioning initial understandings and assumptions, and persisting, with an attitude of open-mindedness, responsibility, and whole-heartedness” (Jay & Johnson, 2002, p. 75).
Some teacher educators believe that Reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action are interrelated. They assert that “considerable practice with reflection-on-action will lead to a greater capacity for reflection-in-action or reflective classroom teaching, whereby a teacher’s in-the-moment decision making and practice will be increasingly aware and informed” (Stanley, 1998, p. 585).
While insisting that professionals need to develop their own theories of practice, Schon does not deny the importance of education as the basis for reflection. He maintains, “Education for reflective practice, though not a sufficient condition for wise or moral practice, is certainly a necessary one” (Schon, 1987, p. xiii).
To sum up, Schon suggested two models for reflection – reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. While reflection-in-action refers to immediate informed decision made by a professional based on previous practice, reflection-on-action looks back at an action after it has finished and based on the results better decisions for the future.
2.3.3.2.2 Reflection and Technical Rationality
One of the much-debated concepts that Schon has introduced is the dichotomy between reflection and technical rationality. In The Reflective Practitioner (1983), Schon criticizes the technical rationality, which is “the dominant epistemology of practice” (p. 21) among professionals. What he means by technical rationality is the “instrumental problem solving made rigorous by the application of scientific theory and technique” (p. 21). For this, he blames Positivism, a powerful philosophical doctrine that rose in the nineteenth century, as he believes technical rationality is the heritage of that doctrine. In the Positivist epistemology of practice, scientific world-view and the idea that progress could be achieved by controlling science to create technology gained dominance. As a result, research and the production of science were prioritized, two tasks that were supposed to be undertaken only by professionals in universities and research centers. Once professionals have produced knowledge, practitioners were expected to be applying it in their practices. As a case in point, in the field of ELT, theoreticians devised (and still devise) teaching methods and teachers applied them in their classes.
The model Schon suggests to replace technical rationality is reflection. Schon (1983; 1987; 1988) assumes that as practitioners are directly involved with their profession, they have a unique perspective in understanding the complexities of it, an advantage that mere-theoreticians lack. Schon sees reflection as research, a kind of research that is not about or for practice, but in practice. This kind of research is the prerogative of reflective practitioners, because much of the research that theoreticians do is about or for practice (Schon, 1983; 1987). He knows that it is not easy for practitioners to reflect and research. He believes that surprise and puzzlement are central to reflective practice. He finds it natural when he encounters a reflective practitioner confused and vulnerable, as he believes this “not-knowing” opens him “to a rejection of belief in externally given ‘right answers'” (1988, p. 23). He is, of course, aware that it is far from easy to implement such a system in schools, where they have faith in standard lesson plans, coverage of units, standard division of time and space, routines of testing and system of incentives – “all geared to a view of knowledge, learning and teaching built around ‘right answers’ that teachers should be ‘covering’ and students should be learning to reproduce” (1988, pp. 26-27).
In reflective teaching, the top-down form of education, where theoreticians lay down the rules and teachers follow, is criticized. Teachers, following a bottom-up approach, develop new theories based on their own practice. In this view, “teachers can both pose and solve problems related to their educational practice” (Zeichner & Liston, Reflective teaching: an introduction, 1996, p. 4). It is believed that “the generation of new knowledge about teaching is not the exclusive property of colleges, universities, and research and development centers…, that teachers too have theories that can contribute to a codified knowledge base for teaching” (Zeichner, 1996, p. 199).
The dichotomy between technical rationality and reflection has largely been the subject of criticism (Shulman, 1988; Court, 1988). Gilliss (1988) does not see this framework a suitable one for teachers, as she thinks, “teachers are typically trained in institutions which neither conduct nor teach about research” (p. 49). In addition, she believes busy teachers do not tend to consult official research findings and instead, prefer to get help from colleagues or come up with a solution themselves. Court (1988), too, does not think reflection-in-action is possible in teaching. In the busy and noisy classrooms where a teacher has to manage 30 to 40 students, she does not find a chance to take some time out and reflect when she faces a problem. She cites Schon saying,
Consider, for example, a physician’s management of a patient’s disease, a lawyer’s preparation of a brief, a teacher’s handling a difficult student. In processes such as these, which may extend over weeks, months, or years, fast-moving episodes are punctuated by intervals which provide opportunity for reflection. (Schon, 1983, p. 278)
and concludes that the example given by Schon for reflection-in-action in education is actually an example of reflection-on-action.
2.3.3.3 Van Manen’s Hierarchical Reflection
In Van Manen’s view, “reflective practitioners are professionals who reflect in action their constant decision making guided by the theoretical and practical principles of their discipline” (Farrell, 2004, p. 20). Van Manen has proposed two models of reflection. In his influential article writte
n before Schon’s reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action model, Van Manen proposed a hierarchy whereby reflection is seen as comprised of three levels: technical reflection, practical reflection, and critical reflection (Van Manen, 1977). Almost two decades later, Van Manen proposed a model in which reflection was comprised of three types: anticipatory, contemporaneous, and retrospective (Van Manen, 1995).
2.3.3.3.1 Technical-Practical-Critical Reflection
“The first level, technical reflection, is concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of means to achieve certain ends, which themselves are not open to criticism or modification” (Hatton & Smith, 1995, p. 35). At this level, teachers “are primarily concerned with applying knowledge in order to reach pre-determined educational objectives. The end objectives are not questioned. The actions taken are evaluated on the basis of its effectiveness, economy, and efficiency” (El-Dib, 2007, p. 26). The second stage, practical reflection, paves the way for the examination of means and goals, the postulations upon which these are based, and the concrete results. It attempts to investigate, question, and clarify the objectives behind teaching activities (El-Dib, 2007). “This kind of reflecting, in contrast to the technical form, recognizes that meanings are not absolute, but are embedded in, and negotiated through, language” (Hatton & Smith, 1995, p. 35). The third level, which is presumed to be the highest level of reflection, is critical reflection. “At this level, the teacher is not simply concerned about the goals, the activities and the assumptions behind them but he is rather reflecting upon the larger context where all education exists” (El-Dib, 2007, p. 26). In addition to including emphases from the previous two, critical reflection also considers moral and ethical criteria and makes judgments about

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