Source: Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Vol. 28 No. 1, p. 27-38. Fall, 2011.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current study examined whether blogging could be an effective vehicle to support preservice teacher critical reflection.
The researchers examined two research questions:
1. How will the use of blogs for reflective journals during a secondary science methods course and practicum period affect preservice secondary science teachers’ reflections?
2. Does the use of blogs for reflection support the process of becoming a reflective practitioner for preservice science teachers?
The participants were 10 preservice teachers enrolled in a science teacher methods course at a public university in the southeastern United States.
Three participants were male and seven were female; all were Caucasian and ranged in age from 21 to 33 years old.
The participants in this cohort created blogs for personal reflective practice.
The preservice teachers wrote reflective blog entries each week, read the reflections of their cohort peers, and posted comments to cohort member’s blogs.
The authors read and commented on the preservice teacher blog entries to provide supportive feedback and asked questions of participants designed to promote critical reflection.
The researchers assessed the quality of their reflections each week for 10 weeks using a 4-level scale.
Thirty-nine percent of blog entries were at the non-reflection or understanding levels, and 61% of the blog entries were at the reflection or critical reflection levels.
Of the 107 entries assessed, only 3.7% were found to be at the critical reflection.
The findings also show some differences between participants in reflective level.
86% of the participants’ reflective practice falls in the range between understanding and reflection levels.
When reflections were about classroom observations, 45.5% of the reflections were at non-reflection or understanding levels.
Thirty-one percent of the reflections made about observations of the cooperating teacher were at understanding level.
This data indicates that some preservice teachers did attempt to make connections between the cooperating teacher’s choices and theories discussed in the methods course but did not form insights as to what changes could be made to improve instruction.
A notable finding of this study is a lower level of reflection when preservice teachers are reflecting on observations of their cooperating teachers.
This finding implies that reflections during the practicum period might be better utilized in a more structured way by providing teachers with specific prompts or foci to direct their observations.
Specific instruction is needed to inform preservice teachers of the critical features of reflective practice.
In conclusion, the analysis of the data collected in this study has revealed patterns in preservice teacher reflections.
Examination of these patterns led to several recommendations for improvements to preservice teacher programs, which can be grouped into two categories:
(a) methods course curriculum changes and (b) organization of reflective.
Technology tools that could fundamentally change reflective practice are readily available and easy to use. By continuing to experiment with implementations of these tools, methods can be developed that could build specialized communities of practice that can support preservice and novice teachers in the early years of their careers and beyond.