A Design-Based Self-Study of the Development of Student Reflection in Teacher Education

Aug. 15, 2010

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Volume 6, Issue 2, August 2010 , p. 201–216. (Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Reflection is critical to successful pre-service teacher learning, but it is hard to teach and difficult for students to conceptualize.

The current article reports a self-study where a practitioner and colleagues scrutinize an intervention in teacher education. The research focuses on student teachers becoming reflective during the second phase of a three-year design-based study of science teacher education. This project provided contextual anchors to connect teaching episodes and to promote reflective cycles.

Research Questions
The authors addressed to the following research questions were:
How do science pre-service teachers come to terms with demands that they be reflective about their teaching?
How do they learn to become reflective?
What role do contextual anchors, embedded as teaching strategies, play in reflection?


This research is located as self-study employing design-based methods. Design-based research is characterized by: the enactment of a theory or conjecture that underpins the creation of conditions that are likely to be productive for learning; the development (or design) of an intervention; and the enactment of this intervention in an authentic setting or settings (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003).

The design-based method (Brown, 1992) was central to this enquiry because a planned intervention was to be tested and modified, in a real world setting, to address a particular problem; and this intervention was based on an analysis of the theoretical position.

The Intervention

The intervention consisted of modifications to an existing secondary teacher education program. This included the introduction of a project-based program culminating in a portfolio.
The project required trying one of five recommended strategies for science teaching:
cooperative learning, problem solving, teacher directed, investigating or performance
(New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 2003).

During the four-week practicum the students were expected to use their chosen strategy and collect artifacts associated with teaching episodes of significance to them (ranging from formal tasks such as a worksheet, to incidental items such as an ad hoc question asked by a pupil). Reflections on these episodes and statements of their personal philosophy of science teaching were included in their portfolio.

Participants and Data collection
The participants in the research were four lecturers and 26 students in a secondary teacher education program in Australia and 26 cooperating science teachers.

Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, observation, discussion board entries, lecturer reflections and , students portfolios.


The findings revealed that there appear to be two anchors operating to inform and enrich reflection among these student teachers.

There are contextual anchors where the student's thinking is connected and informed by the context of the experience, including the teaching strategy being employed, the nature of the class, the student teacher's background experience and expertise, the goals and content of the learning, and the like. These all play a part in providing a rich experience or teaching/learning episode essential for critical reflection on teaching practice.

The authors also noted that conceptual anchors might enrich reflection. These conceptual anchors are attached to theory inherent in teaching strategy. They include educational philosophy, theories, principles, and ideas that may be mined from literature.

The authors conclude that in their future developments it is important to enhance the connections between contextual and conceptual anchors to promote interplay between education ideas and teaching experience.

Brown, A. (1992) Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences 2:2 , pp. 141-178.


New South Wales Department of Education and Training (NSWDET) (2003) Quality teaching program (QTP) science resource Author , Sydney.

The Design-Based Research Collective (2003) Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher 32:1 , pp. 5-8. [ crossref ].

Updated: Feb. 06, 2011