Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Vol. 27 No. 4, p. 128-133. Summer, 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors investigated whether blog reflections would show a greater depth of reflection (DoR) than end-of-the-semester paper reflections.
This study sought to answer three research questions:
1. Will preservice teachers who complete blog posts display greater DoR compared to preservice teachers who complete final paper reflections?
2. Do blogs or papers that are longer (measured by word count) show greater DoR?
3. Do blogs that receive more student or instructor responses show greater DoR?
This study was conducted at Illinois State University and involved collecting reflective writing completed within the curriculum and instruction (C&I) course sequence.
Two types of writing were collected: reflections written in end-of-the-course formal papers and reflections written in blog posts.
The preservice teachers who wrote papers were given various prompts to focus their reflection on the relationship between clinical experiences and course concepts.
67 middle or secondary preservice teachers participated in the study; 24 wrote reflective papers, and 43 reflected on blog posts.
The preservice teachers were enrolled in a C&I course between the Summer 2008 and Spring 2010 terms.
The authors developed a reflection assessment tool, Framework of Four Levels of Reflection for Teacher Education.
Level 1: Non-reflection
The non-reflective level was attributed to writing that merely described a preservice teacher’s clinical experience and made no (or a very weak) attempt to connect lesson effectiveness with teaching methods.
Level 2: Understanding
Writing in the Understanding category included descriptions of clinical experiences in light of course content and the identification of relationships between methods and effectiveness.
Level 3: Reflection
The third level,Reflection, was assigned to writing that used clinical experiences to shape teaching philosophy and practice. Writing at this level included direct application of clinical observations to future classroom practice.
Level 4: Critical Reflection
Only if preservice teachers showed evidence of a change in basic assumptions and conceptual frameworks based on their clinical experiences would their writing be coded at Level 4: Critical Reflection.
The results indicated that the preservice teachers who completed blogs showed higher levels of reflection in their writing compared to those who completed papers.
Furthermore, the blogs were shorter than the papers.
These results indicate that reflections posted to blogs over the course of the semester are more effective than final papers for reflective assignments.
The authors did not find evidence that more peer responses foster greater DoR.
The results lend evidence to the idea that providing preservice teachers with opportunities to reflect systematically and publically among their peers via blogs increases their depth of reflection.
The authors suggest that before implementing blogging as part of a course, instructors should consider providing and discussing the reflection assessment tool used in this study, as well as examples of appropriate, high-quality posts and response posts, in hopes of fostering higher levels of DoR.
The authors also recommend on creating reflective environments via blogs to help shift from an audience of one to an audience of peers.
In addition, instructors can create environments in which future teachers use the writing process to examine their own assumptions about teaching and learning and turn lessons learned into effective teaching practice.