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Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner
Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner

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4.1 Critical reflection in reading and writing

As part of your ITE course you may be asked to produce written work which demonstrates critical reflection.

Reading for critical analysis and reflection involves:

  • Making judgements about the way arguments are made in the text.
    • Are they convincing?
    • Are they based on reliable evidence?
  • Considering the arguments from a detached position which allows you to carefully scrutinise what is being said.
    • What is missing or doesn’t relate to my understanding of the issues?
  • Reading to understand different ways of thinking about a subject rather than just collecting information or quotes.
  • Considering how the literature relates to your own practical experiences.
    • Does it support, challenge or even undermine your experiences?

Writing in a critically reflective and analytical style involves applying these ideas to help you develop arguments, use evidence and demonstrate the link between theoretical perspectives and experiences in practice. The following activity will help you to understand what is meant by critically reflective writing.

Activity 4: Identifying critical reflection

Timing: Time: 30 minutes
  1. Read the extracts from the lesson evaluations of two student teachers who team taught the same lesson, Lesson analysis [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .
  2. Using different colours, highlight what is descriptive, what is analytical and what is reflective.
  3. Come to a conclusion about whether each student teacher has been critically reflective.


You may have found it difficult to mark places where the authors are being critically reflective as this is inevitably intertwined with the other three types of writing. It is how description, reflection and analysis are used that will determine whether the writing as a whole is critically reflective. For example, passages which analyse theory or practice may use description or reflection to support a particular view or may be used to demonstrate where there is an alternative view to consider.

Both texts can be described as being critically reflective, although they employ different styles. There are elements of description and reflection but these are usually used as evidence to support critically reflective statements or arguments. The interweaving of theory, practice and reflection gives weight to the arguments the author is presenting, with very few statements that are based solely on personal opinion or experience. The use of questions can be helpful as a starting point for a discussion with the student teacher’s tutor or mentor.

Having considered what critical reflection is, we will now think about how to ensure reflection leads to effective learning.