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Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives


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Using critical incidents in teaching to promote reflective practice


Benita G. Bruster & Barbara R. Peterson
a a a

Austin Peay State University, Teaching and Learning , P.O. Box 4545, College of Education, Clarksville , 37044 , United States Published online: 30 Oct 2012.

To cite this article: Benita G. Bruster & Barbara R. Peterson (2013) Using critical incidents in teaching to promote reflective practice, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 14:2, 170-182, DOI: 10.1080/14623943.2012.732945 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2012.732945

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Reective Practice, 2013 Vol. 14, No. 2, 170182, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2012.732945

Using critical incidents in teaching to promote reective practice


Benita G. Bruster* and Barbara R. Peterson
Austin Peay State University, Teaching and Learning, P.O. Box 4545, College of Education, Clarksville 37044, United States (Received 1 March 2012; nal version received 19 September 2012)

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Literature in teacher education stresses the importance of preparing thoughtful reective practitioners. This study examined the use of critical incidents as a tool for reection employed by teacher candidates during their clinical teaching semester. All participants were required to write weekly reections using either a traditional journaling format (N=10) or an on-line weblogging format (N=10). Two independent readers analyzed the narratives and collaborated to reach censuses using open and axial coding to determine key phrases and words and to assign themes. The quantitative method used to analyze reection entries was a Two-way ANOVA design. The results indicated a signicant difference between the reections of those who weblogged and the reections of those who wrote in traditional journals. Participants who wrote in journals wrote complex investigative reections of classroom events. Participants who wrote using weblogs wrote less complex descriptions of classroom events. In addition, participants who wrote using the weblogs generated questions about how to solve instructional issues more so than those who participated in the traditional journaling format. Analysis of the participants reective writing indicated that participants from both groups moved in-and-out of ve phases of reection; however, the language used in all reective writing provided insight into each phase and featured language that was representative of each particular phase. Keywords: weblogging; critical incidents; reective phases; reective practice; teacher candidates

Introduction Reective thinking and reective practice have become common concepts in the teacher education literature as national and state policy makers and teacher education programs have committed themselves to preparing teachers to be reective practitioners (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2010; Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 1992; National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, 2007; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2000). The emphasis on reective practice challenges teacher educators to create programs that provide constructive ways for teacher candidates to engage in reective practice. Helping teacher candidates develop habits of reection has been an ongoing commitment in most teacher education programs. Teacher candidates are encouraged to reect on lesson and unit plans, eld and clinical experiences, and on
*Corresponding author. Email: brusterb@apsu.edu
2012 Taylor & Francis

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various course requirements. A common assumption is that reective practice facilitates the ability to apply theory to practice and to learn from experience. The basic premise behind reective practice is that an individuals actions are guided by what they have learned from previous experiences. Piaget (1967) asserted that individuals do not assimilate new information in a step-by-step manner. Instead, individuals learn through intellectual resolution, each event inuenced by previous experiences, individual backgrounds, and critical events that happen and change ways of thinking. Looking back over events, situations, or critical episodes in a way that allows for deep critical introspection is reection. However, encouraging deep critical reection from students in an educational environment is often met with disappointing outcomes. The idea of reection is a taken-for-granted notion among many educators that assumes reection to be a natural response to a dilemma or challenge. Although an individual may reect, how the individual reects will have a bearing on the outcome. Reective individuals have the ability to think about their behaviors and make judgments about them. In contrast, Valli (1992) suggested that individuals who are unreective are limited in their ability to make change. Deeper learning has a distinct relationship with reective practice (Sen & Ford, 2009) and is more likely to occur when individuals engage in what is termed as deep reection, analytical reection, or critical reection. As teacher educators, we want to promote critical reection; however, when reading the written reections of our students we observed the reections to be descriptive in nature with minimal evidence of being analytical or critical. From our anecdotal observations, it appeared that our teacher candidates did not automatically know how to reect analytically or critically. As a result, we wanted to learn more about the nature of reective thinking and how critical reection can be effectively implemented in a teacher education program. Theoretical framework To develop a better understanding of the concept of reection, we turned to the work of John Dewey, who recognized that individuals can reect on a whole host of things in the sense of merely thinking about them. However, Dewey (1933) emphasized that logical or analytic reection can happen only when there is a real problem to solve. Dewey saw true reective practice as taking place when an individual faces a real problem that needs to be resolved in a rational manner. Dewey (1933) suggested that reection begins with a felt difculty that can range in intensity from mild uneasiness to intense shock. To address this sense of unease, Dewey suggested individuals must proceed through three steps of reection: (1) problem denition, (2) analysis, and (3) generalization. He distinguished between action based on reection and action that is impulsive or blind. He placed emphasis on the need to develop certain attitudes of open-mindedness and skills of thinking and reasoning in order to reect. For Dewey, a fundamental purpose of education is to help individuals acquire habits of reection so they engage in intelligent action. Recent emphasis on the need for reective practice saw a shift from Deweys perspective of reection as intelligent decision-making to reection as a tool for professional development which was inspired in-part by the work of Donald Schn (1987). Schn believed that reection can take place throughout an individuals career and is a crucial aspect of the process by which beginners in a discipline

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improve their practice. Schn proposed that in preparing professionals, educators must guide students in making decisions under conditions of uncertainty. In teaching, uncertain conditions may be categorized as critical incidents (Tripp, 1993). Thuynsma (2001) identied a critical incident as a turning point that results in changes in the perception of effectiveness or success. Dewey, Schn, and Tripp emphasized that reecting on signicant episodes in professional practice is essential to the development of professional judgment. During the clinical teaching semester, teacher candidates encounter many signicant episodes that are difcult to resolve. These episodes or instances become critical because they cause the candidate to pause, think back, and consider outcomes. Critical incidents, advocated by Tripp (1993), are venues for teaching critical reection. A critical incident is an interpretation of a signicant episode in a particular context rather than a routine occurrence. Typically, a critical incident is personal to an individual. Incidents only become critical, that is problematic, if the individual sees them as such. Reecting on an incident after the incident has taken place is when it is dened as critical. We utilized the critical incident technique in this study as the framework for initiating the reective process of teacher candidates during their clinical teaching semester. Methodology To understand the nature of reection, the researchers used the critical incident technique as a tool to enable reective writing. Reection during student teaching had been an expected component of the student teaching experience for years at our institution. However, reections were often sparsely written, and seldom went beyond the description of an event. For the purpose of this study all teacher candidates were asked to reect on teaching/learning incidents they deemed to be critical during their student teaching experience. A requirement for this assignment involved reection on one critical incident each week for the duration of the sixteen-week student teaching experience. Candidates had use of a protocol to guide their reections (see Appendix A). In developing the protocol, we used three criteria to guide our choice of prompts. The participants were asked to: (1) describe the context of their incident; (2) identify a dilemma they experienced or observed, and (3) discuss the resolution of the dilemma. While all participants used the critical incident technique as a means for reection, we divided the participants into two different groups. One group wrote their reections in a traditional journaling format. Each week, these participants turned their reections in to their university supervisor as a written assignment. This format had typically been used during student teaching and was a familiar format for the university supervisors. The other group wrote their reections using a weblog. The university supervisors had access to the weblogs, so these participants were not required to turn in their reections each week as an assignment. The weblog format was utilized because half of the participants in this study had been introduced to weblogging in a methods class the previous semester; they were familiar with this medium as part of a class assignment. Although the university supervisors did not interact with the webloggers on a consistent basis, they were available for help or as needed. It was felt that constant interaction with the webloggers would hamper the dialogue and could possibly create an environment where webloggers might censor their own writing.

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Recognizing that the current generation of teacher candidates write uently in electronic media using weblogs, e-mails, and social networks; we wanted to examine the effect of the use of a weblog compared to the use of the traditional journaling format on the participants reective writing. Stiller and Philleo (2003) as cited in Shoffner (2009) acknowledge that teacher educators are taking an interest in using weblogs as reective spaces. Stiller and Philleo (2003) replaced pen-and-paper reective journals with weblogs in a teacher education class, citing several drawbacks to the more traditional paper journal, among them generic responses, illegible handwriting and instructor access to the journal (p. 4). A mixed method approach was used for data analysis. This approach consisted of a qualitative thematic analysis of the written narratives using open and axial coding to assign key phrases and words in order to determine themes. After reading participant reections, each reader used inductive reasoning to analyze all journal and weblog entries. Recurring words and phrases were identied, examined, and color coded as categories emerged. Each critical incident was read separately to conrm categories and to ensure that all viable possibilities for analysis were considered. Each reader tallied all similarly coded text to determine the frequencies of all categories. Both readers analyzed each category of reection to determine a denite t and that all categories were distinct and separate (Straus & Corbin, 1990). Following independent coding, both readers compared each reection based on an analysis of the language used to determine common words, phrases, and emerging categories until censuses was reached. The quantitative method used to analyze reection entries was a Two-way ANOVA design to compare the differences of written reections between the students who reected using the weblog format and the students who reected using the traditional journal format. The goal of this sixteen-week study was designed to: (1) examine the impact of using the critical incident technique to promote critical reection, (2) analyze the language used by participants in the reective narratives for emergent themes, and (3) compare the use of weblogs vs. traditional journals as practical spaces for written reections. Research participants and data collection The participants of this study were a randomly selected subset of 20 students from an entire group of 85 teacher candidates, and included undergraduate teacher candidates seeking initial licensure in elementary education, middle school education, special education or secondary education. Of the 20 randomly selected participants, ten elected to reect using a traditional hand-written journaling format, and the remaining ten participants elected to reect using a weblog format. Prior to this semester, all teacher candidates participated in weblogging as part of a university course requirement; therefore, all participants were familiar with the required technology, the social interaction potential, and the technical realities of writing on a blog. There were seven females and three males in the traditional journaling group and eight females and two males in the weblogging group. All 20 participants ranged in age from the mid-20s to the mid-30s. All teacher candidates who were student teaching, including the participants of this study, received a critical incident protocol that contained a common set of eight guided questions and prompts; there-

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fore, this assignment was not an additional requirement for the participants. The protocol provided a denition of the critical incident technique, as well as carefully crafted questions and prompts designed to guide the reection process. Within the timeframe of the study, the 20 participants generated 16 reections each, one per week, totaling 320 reections. Of the 320 reections, half were in the traditional journaling format and half were in the weblog format. Reections were retrieved for analysis every other week of the semester, beginning with week two. Spacing data retrieval throughout the semester allowed the researchers to conduct an in-depth study of each reective narrative and provided an opportunity to track changes in student reections during the semester. Data analysis The use of critical incidents was the method chosen to elicit qualitative data for this study. Woolsey (1986) indicated that the critical incident technique is an exploratory qualitative method of research that has been shown to be both reliable and valid in generating a comprehensive and detailed description of a situation. The emphasis was on incidents (things which actually happened and were directly observed), which were critical (things which signicantly affected the outcome) (Woolsey, 1986). All participants were asked to reect on one incident each week that appeared to be critical to them. Analysis of each critical incident involved an examination of language used by participants in their written narratives. Participants responded to eight prompts when reporting their critical incidents. The prompts were designed to lead participants to discuss a specic teaching/learning event they experienced or observed, and then to reect on the educational signicance of the event. Each critical incident narrative was coded looking rst for preliminary categories then reread and altered as additional themes and patterns emerged (Straus & Corbin, 1990). Analysis was informed by Strauss and Corbins (1990) open and axial coding procedures. Open coding allowed for an examination of the data as a whole, with repeating elements and recurring themes noted and categorized. Once initial themes had been identied, they were isolated for further analysis in a second stage. This second stage of analysis proceeded through iterative reviews, beginning in the rst review to code comments as they related to the language used by participants. This descriptive coding identied initial categories of reection. Once the descriptive coding established these initial categories, subsequent reviews of all comments were used for validation. This respondent triangulation (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1993) enabled the adjusting of categories or the creation of new ones to accommodate all assertions relative to the emergent themes. Analysis of the language used by both groups of participants revealed a pattern of expression that allowed the researchers to identify ve distinct themes. These themes are described in this study as phases of reection. The term phase was utilized to denote a stage of thinking employed by the participants. Phase as dened by Merrian-Webster on-line is an aspect or part (as of a problem) under consideration. Building on former research, reections were analyzed initially using themes that had emerged from previous research (Harris, Bruster, Peterson, & Shutt, 2010). The ve themes or phases used in this study had been generated using open coding. The phases applied to the data were: (1) the descriptive phase, (2) the inquisitive phase, (3) the investigative phase, (4) the interdependent phase, and (5) the global phase. Each phase is dened and outlined below. Following the denition

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of each phase of reection is a quote from one or more of the participants that demonstrated evidence of each specic phase. These quotes offered insight into each phase and featured language that was representative of each. Descriptive phase Participants who demonstrated language at the descriptive phase often limited their perceptions to describing events and interactions between others. Descriptions involved situations, lessons, projects, or actions and included the setting and observations of a situation. Participants complied with the basic directions; that is to reect on a critical incident. There appeared to be no evidence of critical thought in their writing. As we read and analyzed reective entries, examples that illustrated the descriptive phase emerged. A particular student from the weblogging group wrote the following reection:
This week my mentor teacher began TCAP review. I did more observing this week. This was good for me since I havent had a lot of opportunity to just observe my mentor teacher. TCAP review can sound very boring and overwhelming. However, my mentor teacher likes to make things fun and interesting for her students. She turned review into a game for the class to identify areas in which students needed extra practice and reinforcement. The schools PTO group has raised money this year to purchase a responder computer system to work with the smart boards the school is adding to the classrooms. The responder system has a computer keyboard responder in which they can type an answer and send it to the smart board. The system will show how many correct and incorrect responses there was to each question. The students love to use this technology. They couldnt wait to come to class to use the computers, not even knowing they were reviewing for TCAP.

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The descriptive phase is represented in this entry because this participant explained classroom events but failed to provide theory or analysis to support the description. Although this participant fullled the requirement to reect, this entry was strictly descriptive in nature and there was no introspective element evident in this narrative. Inquisitive phase Language at the inquisitive phase involved evidence of questioning or pondering professional practice. Participants examined pedagogical decisions and made inquiries about professional actions. They began to question their ability to be effective in the classroom while some questioned their decision to teach. Participants appeared to demonstrate an awareness of multiple problems and dilemmas in the classroom. Many participants expressed concerns about their limited knowledge and lack of skills to condently resolve classroom issues. Reection at the inquisitive phase included many elements of the descriptive phase; however, these reections still did not exhibit evidence of linking theory to practice. Initial thoughts and questions at this phase appeared to be based on limited experiences in the classroom and narrow understandings of teaching. Upon analyzing weblogs and journal narratives, we identied entries that illustrated the inquisitive phase. A student from the journaling group wrote:
I feel really in the dark because I feel that I havent observed my mentor teacher s interaction with the students enough to get a feel for their schedule or their abilities yet. I know this is what teachers go through at the beginning of the year, but they do

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have the benet of familiarizing themselves with records, grades, TCAP scores, discussions with other teachers, IEP records, etc. that I havent had. The main thing that makes me uneasy is planning for next week. I know these classes are ability grouped for instruction which makes it somewhat easier, but I dont know what this class has covered this year, how much time they have spent discussing certain concepts, or their individual abilities. How am I going to know which students need extra support or attention?

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This narrative demonstrated awareness of an element of effective teaching, the importance of using students prior knowledge to inform instruction: I know these classes are ability grouped for instruction but I dont know what has been covered this year. The participant has moved beyond description, to include evidence of concern for students. Evidence of inquiry in this narrative provided a more critical examination of the classroom situation, but no alternatives were sought. The language of this entry remained at the inquisitive phase. Investigative phase Participants at the investigative phase of reection began to explore alternatives for problems after concerns were identied. Feedback was sought from experienced teachers and outside resources to uncover alternative practices, choices, and methodologies to resolve dilemmas. They began to investigate theories and applications based on their knowledge or the knowledge of others. Schn (1983) referred to this type of reection as retrospective thinking or reection-on- action and reectionin-action. As we analyzed journal and weblog entries, examples that exemplied the investigative phase emerged. A participant from a kindergarten placement who wrote using the weblogging format provided this example of a reection at the investigative phase.
It wasnt until my drive home that I was able to reect on what I had learned from this experience. First, I shouldnt have let her use so much instruction time. I should have nipped it in the bud, respectfully but immediately. I was trying to appease her and it just urged her on. Second, I should not have let her be sassy to me for the rest of the day. Lastly, I know better than to get into a battle of wills with a kindergartener. That is a battle a grown-up cannot win. Next time, I will assert myself respectfully and not waste instructional time.

The reections of this student demonstrated focused attention on the management of the class and facilitation of instruction. The participant described the situation and moved to the investigative phase to search for credible solutions that would allow for better use of instructional time. A distinct shift in professional judgment occurred when the participant was able to look beyond self to the well-being of the students in the classroom. Interdependent phase Participants at the interdependent phase were able to combine an understanding of theory with practice. This application of theory into practice was clearly demonstrated through choices, actions, and decisions. Classroom environments, social environment, the community, and academic programs were considered when

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planning for the best interest of the student. Social, emotional, and physical needs were also considered essential to the total education of the student. Participants at this phase considered the contextual factors of cultural diversity of the class, economic differences, characteristics of the students, and knowledge of how the content relates to students. Through analysis of the narratives, we classied entries that illustrated the interdependent phase. A participant from a fourth grade classroom wrote the following journal entry:
On Friday, I was asked to join the other fourth grade teachers, school administrators and special education representative for an IEP meeting with his father. I immediately began to understand some of the issues that have faced the school staff for years with this child. His father was immediately on the defensive because of things the student had told him at home. When all was discussed and issues put out on the table, it was apparent that different things were being told and done at home and school. It was noted that better home to school communication was needed. By listening, I became aware of some of the special needs of this student that I was not aware of before. I felt that this meeting made me better prepared for him to come into my class, it helped me to prepare him for what was expected of him so that he could be successful, and it helped me be able to understand things from his perspective so that I was more sensitive to his behavior and ready to help defuse problems and guide him through how to better deal with situations. When the meeting was over, I felt like many positive things had been accomplished. The teachers and administration asked the father what things he thought could be done on this end better and they outlined things which needed to be handled better at home. The student was brought in and made aware of what had been discussed and how things would be handled going forward. With everyone on the same page I feel and hope things will be better next week.

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This participant clearly demonstrated an understanding of the student, the school environment, and how family dynamics are all interdependent factors for the success of the student. The importance of positive home and school relationships was recognized as a critical component in planning for the future success of the student.

Global phase At the global phase, participants seemed to consider ethical, moral, and political issues when making professional decisions. Participants at this phase considered issues in relation to their knowledge of teaching and learning. Social action and political inuences to policies may result from reections at this phase. Participants at this level appeared condent in their teaching ability and their pedagogical focus expanded beyond the classroom to include the community and the world. Individuals at this level often consider moral and ethical issues that directly relate to teaching practices and their profession. A participant who wrote in a journal commented:
I need to make sure I work to empower students to live above the pressure in the world. I need to be aware of where they come from and what they are dealing with so that I can help give them the strength they need to survive in the world.

The language of this narrative speaks to an understanding of the far-reaching inuence of the larger community and the world. The participant seemed to be clearly focused on the teacher s responsibility of preparing students to be successful in a global workplace.

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Figure 1. Participants responses and phases of reection. Graphic representation of the number of responses from all participants in the study and the phases of reection are displayed above. The participants reected using traditional journals or online weblogs. The phases of reection are represented with numbers 1 thru 5. description = 1, inquisitive = 2, investigative = 3, interdependent = 4, and global = 5.

Additional ndings Comparison of the weblog reections and the journal reections revealed distinct differences in the way in which language was used in each type of reective method. For example: Reective language used in the journaling group was formal and structured. Participants in this group appeared to view the journal reections as a course assignment and not as a tool to inform instructional practice. Reections from the weblogging group were more informal and conversational. These participants appeared to offer suggestions and ideas as a form of support for each other. The weblogging format seemed to allow participants to interact with each other informally in a social-networking style. Weblog entries were supportive in nature, especially among participants who had previously worked together in other university courses. These entries contained afrmative or supportive language. Participants who weblogged appeared comfortable asking questions and seeking advice from one another. Reective practice and critical thinking were intentionally promoted through the use of the critical incident technique. Analysis of the reective narratives from the weblogging group and the journaling group are reported in Table 1. Each of
Table 1. Number of reections vs phases and types. Source Phases of Reection Types of Reection Error Total df 4 1 4 9 Ss 4486.6 6400.9 1738.6 12626.1 Ms 1121.65 6400.90 434.65 f 2.58 14.73 p 0.190 0.018

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the phases (descriptive, inquisitive, investigative, interdependent, and global) and the two reection formats, weblogging and journaling, were analyzed. Analysis was conducted using a Two-way ANOVA. The results of the Two-way ANOVA clearly indicated a signicant difference between the reections of those who weblogged and the reections of those who wrote in traditional journals, with p = 0.018 < 0.05. From this data, we concluded that the method of reection, either weblogging or journaling, created a difference in the results of the reections written by the participants. There was no interaction between the two reection formats. The results of the data on the phases of reection indicated that there was no signicant difference among the phases, with p = 0.190, for either the webloggers or for those who wrote in journals. Participants who wrote in weblogs reected more extensively than those who wrote using journals. There were 30% more written narratives from the participants who weblogged. There are several possible explanations for the extensive narratives from the weblogging participants. Participants who weblogged used the technology as a social space in order to seek advice from classmates, to support each other in difcult times, and to celebrate accomplishments. When using this venue, the social context must be described in detail in order for other webloggers to understand and be able to contribute opinions and/or help. The analysis revealed that the greatest difference was seen in the descriptive phase, where almost ve times more descriptive narratives were written by those who weblogged. Reections of all participants exhibited a consistent pattern of response at the inquisitive, investigative, and interdependent phases and accounted for 45% of all reections. Participants from both groups reected at the global phase less often; however, the participants in the weblogging group demonstrated more global awareness in their written narratives. The quantity of responses at the global phase for participants who wrote using weblogs was considerably more than the responses from participants who wrote using the traditional journaling format. For example, the webloggers responded ve times more at the global phase compared to those who wrote in journals. When analyzing this signicant difference, we referred back to the denition and language that described the global phase in relation to the webloggers. In the global phase, participants referred to ethical and moral issues related to the teaching profession and considered issues related to their teaching. The weblogging venue provided the social experience for additional dialogue necessary to process the critical incident. The socially constructed dialogue used among the webloggers produced opportunities for participants to process the dilemmas of the critical incident. Participants who weblogged asked for opinions, got suggestions on classroom and behavioral issues, and actively invited other webloggers to weigh-in on ideas, issues, and classroom concerns. According to Bohn (1990), people who think together in a coherent movement have tremendous power. Individuals, who know each other and engage in dialogue, have the potential to experience a coherent movement of communication. The participants who reected using the weblog had an implicit shared process of communication. The weblogging provided a venue for these participants to share their consciousness and to be able to think and work together. Weblogging allowed the opportunity to have a shared collective understanding and the forum to openly dialogue.

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Conclusion There is little argument that reective writing is a good way to foster critical thinking, encourage self expression, and give students a sense of ownership of their work. A goal of teacher preparation programs is to ensure that new teachers emerge as successful reective practitioners. Reective practice cannot be assumed in teacher education programs; it must be a construct that is purposefully integrated into the curriculum of an entire program. A synthesis of the ndings suggests that opportunities for dialogue through social media provide an increased generation of inquiry that leads to critical reection. What was essential for this work was that dialogue generated through the use of web-logs was spontaneous and inquisitive in nature. Without the introduction of a mechanism for reection like the critical incident technique, it could not be assumed that reection beyond the descriptive phase would be generated. This technique afforded participants the opportunity to systematically identify and analyze the day-to-day challenges inherent in teaching. Whether participants were discussing teaching dilemmas using traditional journals or the weblogging format, the critical incident technique provided a forum for in-depth reection. Analysis of the language used by participants in their reective narratives revealed ve discrete themes that were consistent throughout this study. The critical incident technique afforded participants the venue to move beyond descriptive reection to engagement in a more critical reective approach. Participants were able to move from merely describing an incident to questioning and investigating alternatives that allowed them to take ownership of their teaching. Data also revealed evidence of the participants awareness of their students and an increased understanding of the teaching process. Some participants were able to connect their reections to a global awareness expanding their pedagogical focus beyond the classroom. One of the unexpected outcomes of this study was the insight gained by the researchers into participants thought processes. For example, both researchers were impressed when a participant connected the importance of the family/school partnership and the impact that partnership had on the success of a child in the classroom. This depth of understanding was rarely evident in the reective writing of teacher candidates prior to this study. Regardless of the medium of reection, it is imperative that teacher educators embed opportunities for critical reective practice throughout their programs. In order to generate stronger critical analysis of teaching, teacher education programs need to incorporate a technique that fosters reection through increased opportunities for dialogue. There is considerable empirical work needed to establish a full understanding of reective thinking. Acknowledging the need for increased opportunities for reection, it is essential that teacher education programs examine new ways to promote reective practice among teacher candidates. This study was limited by the sample size; future studies are necessary with a larger pool of participants to extend this body of research. If we are serious about preparing teacher candidates to succeed in a world with high accountability, it is imperative to provide them with tools to reect critically and think analytically about the context of their teaching. Notes on contributors
Benita Bruster is an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Austin Peay State University, 601 College Avenue, Clarksville, TN 37044; e-mail brusterb@apsu.edu. She is the current editor of the Tennessee Reading Teacher Journal and

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the coordinator for Literacy and Reading. Her research interests include literacy, critical thinking, and reective practice. Barbara Peterson is an associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Austin Peay State University, 601 College Avenue, Clarksville, TN 37044; e-mail petersonb@apsu.edu. Her research interests include reective practice, transformative learning, school-university partnerships, and mentoring and teacher induction.

References
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (November, 2010). Teacher performance assessment consortium. http://aacte.org/index.php?/Programs/TeacherPerformance-Assessment-Consortium-TPAC/teacher-performance-assessment-consortium. html Bohn, D. (1990). On Dialogue. Ojai, CA: David Bohn Seminars. Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Heath. Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (1993). Ethnography: Principles in practice. New York, NY: Routledge. Harris, E.A., Bruster, B.G., Peterson, B.R., & Shutt, T.R. (2010). Examining and facilitating reection to improve professional practice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littleeld Publishers, Inc. Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). (1992). Model standards for beginning teacher licensing, assessment and development: A resource for state dialogue. Washington, DC: Author. Merrian-Webster. on-line. http://www.merrian-webster.com Merrian-Webster. on-line. http://www.merrian-webster.com. National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. (2007). http://www.nbpts.org National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2000). Program standards for elementary teacher preparation. National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education: Author. Piaget, J. (1967). Six psychological studies. London: London University Press. Schn, D.A. (1983). The reective practitioner. New York: Basic Books. Schn, D.A. (1987). Educating the reective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Sen, B., & Ford, N. (2009). Developing reective practice in LIS education: The SEAchange model of reection. Education for Information, 27, 181195. doi: 10-3233/EFI2009-0884. Shoffner, M. (2009). Personal attitudes and technology: Implications for per-service teacher reective practice. Teacher Education Quarterly, 36(2), 143161. Stiller, G.M., & Philleo, T. (2003). Blogging and blogspots: An alternative format for encouraging reective practice among pre-service teachers. Education, 123(4), 789797. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. California: SAGE. Thuynsma, B. (2001). Caring in teaching: Critical incidents in preservice teachers eld experiences that inuence their career socialization. Unpublished dissertation: State University of New York at Albany. Tripp, D. (1993). Critical incidents in teaching: Developing professional judgment. New York: Routledge. Woolsey, L.K. (1986). The critical incident technique: An innovative qualitative method of research. Canadian Journal of Counseling, 20(4), 242254. Valli, L. (1992). Reective teacher education: Cases and critiques. New York: SUNY Press.

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Appendix A
Reection on Critical Incidents in Teaching Respond to at least one critical incident each week. Submit each critical incident to Milestone IV under clinical teaching extras. In addition, submit one Critical Incident under Standard 1. Share your critical incident with your university mentor at each weekly seminar (1) Give a brief description of a teaching/learning incident you experienced recently. This can be something you observed or something you participated in. (2) What were the consequences (effects or outcomes) of this event? (3) Did an educational dilemma exist? If so, describe it. (4) Is this incident signicant enough for you to reinforce it? Why or Why not? (5) What, if anything, would you have done differently? Why? (6) What do you expect the students learned from this event? (7) What did you learn from this event? (8) What further thoughts or questions were generated from this event? (9) What in your training helped you respond to the critical incident? What is a critical incident? In order to dene a critical incident, think of an interaction with a learner in which a signicant step in learning occurred. Critical in this usage means signicant or relevant. It may also be interpreted to mean clearly effective or ineffective interaction. For example: a learner discovers a new topic for study and adjusts goals accordingly. A learner asserts that certain tasks or materials are not useful to his or her goal; a learner sets a different pace or scope for learning as a result of encountering an unexpected obstacle. These are critical incidents because they clearly contribute to the evolution of an educative experience. An incident is not intended to tell the whole story of a complex relationship. Rather it is intended to describe a single specic exchange, some particular activity done on a particular occasion, notable or interesting in itself regardless of the eventual outcome. The purpose or intent of the described incident should be fairly clear to you. Your description of the incident should include the intention of the response and its apparent effects on the learner. In other words, what difference did your assistance or the assistance of the person you observed make to the progress of the learner toward the goal? When assessing the signicance of the incident, you should trust your own perceptions. You are encouraged to select critical incidents from current experiences, but any detailed report of signicant past interactions is appropriate. The important criterion for a critical incident is that you must nd it signicant to teaching and learning.

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