Promoting Teacher Reflection: What Is Said To Be Done

Feb. 01, 2011

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2011, 21–36. (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explores what is advocated and disseminated as reflection about teaching to teachers in professional development journals.

The authors conducted a discourse analysis of 122 articles that dealt with teacher reflection. These texts were published in two popular educational journals in Spain: Notes on Pedagogy (NP) and Educational Innovation Journal (EIJ).


The findings helped the authors to identify at least four ways reflection is disseminated.
The authors found four such underlying biases in what is conveyed to teachers:

Bias 1: stressing the ‘what’ over the ‘how to’ (explicating the declarative over the Procedural)
Reflection is mainly promoted as a professional practice that permits teachers to solve problems through critical deliberation. Texts reviewed stress conceptual issues such as teacher attributes, models, or reflective approaches rather than the practical procedures and methods on how to reflect.

Bias 2: grounding reflection in beliefs, not evidence
The results of this study make it clear that what is conveyed to teachers about reflection is not primarily grounded in evidence.
The authors found that a small percentage of texts offered to teachers as legitimate or validated knowledge.
Hence, the authors conclude that the articles do not disseminate evidence-based knowledge about reflection, but generate statements of opinion and belief.

Bias 3: echoing ideal realisations
The authors noticed that it is difficult to find accounts that deal with actual obstacles encountered in practice.
Furthermore, when mentioning concrete obstacles to reflection, it often comes down to blaming administrators or teachers who did not invest enough effort and resources, but not on reflection itself.

Bias 4: ‘implicating’ what to do
The findings reveal that the authors of the reviewed articles use mainly imperative arguments, i.e., ‘teachers should’, to suggest that what they promote is certain and well-founded.


The authors suggest that it seems necessary to offer teachers more evidence-based or research validated information on what works in reflective practice by offering relevant journals or educational programmes that could scaffold reflective practice.

Updated: Oct. 31, 2012