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Developing ways of thinking | Reflecting on theory and practice

Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020

Read through the following sections and consider how you might use the ideas to help you develop as a researching professional.


The comments from other EdD students might give you insight into how they approached these areas. As you read the sections make a note of any actions and add them to your Researching Professional Development Plan. You can then discuss your action plan with your supervisor and revisit it at the end of the EdD year.

Reflection becoming a habit

 

What others said:

I am always reflecting, massive … I keep a little journal … which I don’t fill in on a regular basis. I just fill it in as and when along the way, so that is kind of like reflection … say if I had just done a data collection I would just write in my journal about what I found difficult, what things went wrong, what could I improve. … It is just an ongoing journal whenever I have done something so I just flick through that every now and again.

[EdD student, Year 1]

I started questioning pretty much everything which has good and bad moments because there are things that you should probably get on and do or just let them be instead of ‘if I had have done this or if this was like this‘.

[EdD student, Year 3]

I reflect on everything now. It is like a curse, I can’t stop reflecting but it is nice.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • How might you use reflection in the next year?
  • How could you develop the habit of reflection?
  • Might a journal or keeping notes help?

How reflection helps practice and research

What others said:

I did have to think quite a lot about whether the way I was doing the work was a reasonable interpretation as a result of talking to other people about how they were doing it and about the people who arguably were recipients or participants or party to it. [In the past] I wouldn’t have thought in the same way. I would have trudged along, I think, and done the placement, done the task. I don’t think I would have understood it well enough.

[EdD student, Year 3]

When you are doing an area of study that is very much connected with your own work I think you are in a permanent state of reflection actually, I was anyway. You are continually checking through what you have done and thinking ‘is this the right way to do it?’

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • Do you give yourself enough time to reflect on how your research is affecting your practice – and vice versa?
  • When would be the best times for you to reflect on how your research is affecting your practice – and vice versa?

Reflecting on feedback and progress

What others said:

[The supervisors] are always at pains to stress to me that it is not personal, that it is just about pushing you forward.

[EdD student, Year 1]

Either I could reject the feedback [from my supervisors] or I could reflect on it and see the next step, the next perspective and by reflecting on it I found that has been very useful.

[EdD student, Year 2]

I don’t have a bit of a problem with criticism. I think it has been very good, certainly if anything has been written down I have been able to say ‘I don’t understand that’ or ‘explain that to me?’ I am aware that there are other viewpoints and … it is good to have other people looking at it from another direction and say ‘what about?’

[EdD student, Year 3]

Points for you to consider:

  • How do you respond to critical feedback?
  • Do you give yourself enough time to reflect on it?

Reflecting on upcoming challenges and opportunities

What others said:

I realise that we do need to reflect on absolutely everything. So you have a title, that is wonderful. You have your aims, you begin your literacy search, then you change the research questions which means, of course, that you have got to change the title. So you slightly change, or majorly change, the direction you are going in and then you continue the literature review, you start collecting your data … hang on, before you have actually collected the data, you are starting to plan how you are going to collect the data, you realise that there are a few little problems or major obstacles; this needs readdressing … OK I will change that slightly, which means I have got to change my research questions which means I have got to go back to the literature again, which means …

[EdD student, Year 3]

[I reflect] a lot. If I go back to Donald Schön [The Reflective Practitioner, 1983] it is much more reflection in action as opposed to on action … Sometimes it is reflection before action in the sense of 'If I take these and these steps, what would work? What would not work?' so I think it has really helped me out a lot.

[EdD graduate]

Points for you to consider:

  • How good are you at anticipating upcoming challenges and opportunities?
  • How good are you at responding to upcoming challenges and opportunities?
  • Would more reflection help?

This section has been about ‘reflecting on theory and practice’. Before moving on, have a final look at the actions you have added to your Researching Professional Development Plan as a result of working through this section. Will your planned actions help you move forward over the coming year? Will they help you develop the ways you think? Are there any other actions that you feel might help you?

Return to the Researching Professional Development Framework.

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