Perceptions of reflection on a pre-service primary teacher education programme in teaching English as a second language in an institute of teacher education in Malaysia
Hanafi, M. 2019. Perceptions of reflection on a pre-service primary teacher education programme in teaching English as a second language in an institute of teacher education in Malaysia. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
The practice of reflection is embedded in the curricula of pre-service teacher education programmes in many parts of the world, but there have been few studies into how the term ‘reflection’ is understood by those who are required to do it, namely, the student teachers themselves. This study seeks to redress this gap by investigating the perceptions of pre-service student teachers and teacher educators on the Bachelor of Teaching TESL programme in Malaysia of the meaning and practice of the term ‘reflection’ and the way this is manifested in the written reflections of the student teachers during their Teaching Practicum. The study will also shed some light on student teachers’ engagement with reflection through an analysis of their written reflections, and the support they are given on the programme.
This study adopts a predominantly interpretive qualitative methodology in gathering and analysing the data, while a quantitative approach is used as part of the analysis of the written reflections. Interviews were conducted to explore the meaning of ‘reflection’ as perceived by the student teachers and teacher educators, while the written reflections of the student teachers were also collected and analysed inductively in order to understand how they engage in reflection during the practicum.
The analysis of the data reveals that ‘reflection’ involves the student teachers primarily identifying their strengths and weaknesses in their lessons and providing suggestions for improvements (SWIS). The result is that their written reflections tend to adopt a fairly rigid structure. The SWIS framework also results in a very strong focus on the student teachers’ written reflections with a predominant, but arguably narrow, focus on issues related to teaching performance and classroom management, and comparatively little attention to other aspects of the classroom, such as learning, learners and their language use. I have termed this characteristic of their reflections ‘teaching-centric’.
From the analysis of the written reflections, five features of their reflective writing emerge, namely ‘Evaluation’, ‘Reasoning’, ‘Self Realisation’, ‘Problem Solving’, and ‘Describing Events’. These features demonstrate student teachers’ engagement in their day-to-day practice of ‘reflection’.
Furthermore, the analysis shows how five features of reflective writing were combined by the student teachers in different ways to form four identifiable ‘patterns of flow’, which I have classified as ‘Linear’, ‘Dominant’, ‘Recursive’ and ‘Random’. These patterns of flow illustrate student teachers’ engagement in reflective writing and have the potential to be a useful tool to develop student teachers’ skills of reflective writing in teaching.
In terms of fulfilling the demands of the teacher education programme, arguably the support provided to the student teachers in reflective writing is arguably adequate, based on the reflective journals that the student teachers were able to produce. However, the textual analysis of the contents and the instructions in the course documents reveal that certain guidelines are fairly vague. In addition, the interviews with the teacher educators show that training student teachers in writing their reflections was limited to identifying SWIS. Therefore, the support provided to the student teachers in reflective writing is unsatisfactory and in need of improvement.
An implication of the findings is that if teacher education programmes are serious about developing a language teaching methodology that is more ‘communicative’ and less ‘teacher centred’ than traditional approaches to teaching English in Malaysia, student teachers should be encouraged to reflect more widely, and their written reflections should move beyond the ‘SWIS’ framework to encompass areas such as the social, moral, ethical, cultural and political issues of their professional practice. Finally, the features of reflective writing identified in this study could be a useful guide to teacher educators of what constitutes good achievable practice among student teachers with limited teaching experience, and could serve a basis for developing appropriate, realistic frameworks for developing appropriate, realistic frameworks for developing and assessing student teachers’ reflective journals on their practicum.
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|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||13 Sep 2019|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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