Original Research

Disparate understandings of the nature, purpose and practices of reflection in teacher education

Maureen Robinson, Nicolene Rousseau
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 1 | a599 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i1.599 | © 2018 Nici Rousseau, Maureen Robinson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 November 2017 | Published: 14 November 2018

About the author(s)

Maureen Robinson, Department of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Nicolene Rousseau, Department of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

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Background: The concept of reflection is much used in teacher education in many parts of the world, including in South African teacher education policy. However, the notion of reflection is often loosely defined, with differing understandings of its nature, purpose and curriculum implications.

Aim: This article explores how teacher educators and student teachers understood and implemented the notion of reflection in their teacher education programmes.

Setting: The research took place as a multisite case study at four South African universities offering the Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase).

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 24 senior students and 8 teacher educators.

Results: The study revealed disparate views by both teacher educators and student teachers of the nature, purpose and practices of reflective practice and largely tacit understandings of the role of reflection in teacher education. For most interviewees, the emphasis of reflection lay within a technical rational approach of improving teaching rather than a critical approach of locating education within a wider social context. Against the background of the many challenges in South African schooling, we argue that critical reflection is a means to encourage student teachers to become more independent and socially committed teachers.

Conclusion: We present a case for the concept and practices of reflection to be more purposefully explored by teacher educators, thereby contributing towards continued agency and transformation in education.


Reflection; critical reflection; reflective practice; teacher education; Bachelor of Education; teacher educators; student teachers


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Crossref Citations

1. Being a teacher educator: Research-Informed Methods for Improving Practice
Maureen Robinson
European Journal of Teacher Education  vol: 44  issue: 1  first page: 128  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1080/02619768.2020.1844661