August 03, 2009

Paper on the processes of reflection

At last my academic paper on the processes of reflection has come out! I'm really pleased about this paper. It's been published by the largest and most prestigious Journal in the field of (Adult) Education in the world! Wow. I think I'm saying something really significant and important in it, namely that there are other forms of reflection than the 'critical' which we in HE in the West put such great store on, and that how we reflect has a direct impact on the type of 'self' which we develop as we continue through our lives. So the importance of the paper extends well beyond the academic study of reflection; it has direct implications for society, civilisation, and, of course, HE practice, especially in the way in which we assess. In the paper I argue for a form of reflection which I call 'appreciative', taking the term and acknowledging the links with Appreciative Inquiry (AI). Although I haven't been able to explore this in the paper (so I shall pursue it in the next one...) it seems to me that we are very weak at engaging in Appreciative Reflection and suffer consequences of overly-great individualism and separation from our fellow human beings. Big claims. We are good in HE at formulating assessments which require students to demonstrate the ability to think critically. That is right and proper, and scholars such as Brookfield and Mezirow are spot on in insisting that this ability is crucial to our continuing growth and development. Nonetheless, I would argue that Appreciative reflection is equally important. We need to be able to see value in things, in ourselves and in others. We need to be able to express our connections and connectivity, our understanding of what is good and beautiful, our appreciation of their value. We are used to formulating Learning Outcomes which include the ability to critically evaluate, to critically compare and contrast, etc.. I wonder whether the key words for Appreciative reflection are insight and illumination. For Appreciative reflection, we dig deeper, we go profoundly into something to discover new aspects about it which we hadn't realised. We see it differently, with new eyes, appreciating even more what it contributes to our lives and to our understanding of our world. I am exploring in my thinking whether illumination and insight might not even be ways in which originality and innovation can be enhanced and indeed cultivated. Watch this space for further thoughts and publications...

For anyone who's interested, the paper can be accessed here:

or if it can't, get hold of it through the publisher's website. Full bibliographic details are:

Le Cornu, Alison, 'Meaning, Internalization, and Externalization: Toward a Fuller Understanding of the Process of Reflection and Its Role in the Construction of the Self', Adult Education Quarterly, 2009, Volume 59, issue 4, pp. 279-297.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Teresa MacKinnon

    couldn’t access from the link but I will track it down. Thanks Alison :)

    29 Aug 2009, 16:49

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