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Reflective Practice: Theoretical Construct or Ongoing Benefit

Yassaei, Shahla
A Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) by Shahla Yassaei Entitled, "Reflective Practice: Theoretical Construct or Ongoing Benefit," January 2011. Available are both Hard and Soft Copies of the Thesis.
Reflective teaching is an approach toward teaching which requires teachers to think and gather data about their classroom actions, reflect on them, act on them, observe the results, and finally improve their teaching which will in turn assist them in developing themselves professionally. Teachers can become reflective practitioners through involving themselves in a variety of different activities such as keeping teaching journals and teaching portfolios, writing lesson reports, conducting classroom observations, forming reflective inquiry groups, undertaking research, and a number of other reflective activities that raise teachers' awareness of their own practice . Reflection helps teachers to become aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. That is one reason why in teacher education programs teachers are encouraged to reflect on their practice. However, whether or not reflection becomes a part of their practice once they leave these programs is a thought-provoking question that this study sought to answer. This study was as an attempt to investigate former AUS MATESOL program participants' perceptions of "Reflective Practice," and aimed to find out how these current teachers perceive "Reflective Practice," whether or not they consider themselves "Reflective Practitioners," what form of reflection these teachers use in their practice, and what factors determine their engagement with "Reflection" and "Reflective Teaching." In order to gather data to answer my research questions I used semi-structured interviews with four teachers, three females and one male, who graduated from the AUS MATESOL program, and are now teaching at two different universities in the United Arab Emirates. The findings of my study indicate that these former students have generally developed an understanding of reflection and reflective practice to some extent, are aware of its values, and use different forms of reflection in order to reflect on their practice. As the findings of my study suggest, the most common modes of reflection among the participants of this study are contemplating over their practice, discussing with colleagues, and getting feedback from students. The results of my study also suggest that having enough time to reflect and document the reflections, holding receptive attitudes, being convinced of the usefulness of reflective teaching, and believing in change are factors that determine these teachers' engagement with reflection and reflective practice.
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