Knowing where we Stand: Mapping Teachers’ Conception of Reflection in Service-Learning

Abstract

Reflection is fundamental in experiential pedagogies, and many studies have been carried out to investigate its impact and benefits on student learning outcomes. However, the concept of reflection is not well understood. In this study, we focus on the concept of reflection and ensuing approaches to it in service-learning, an experiential pedagogy that has been hailed as a high-impact practice in higher education. We first survey the semantic background of reflection and its usage in service-learning literature. We then present a qualitative study of how university faculty involved in service-learning actually conceive reflection. In-depth interviews uncovered common tendencies as well as concerns about handling reflection in service-learning courses. We devised a framework to map teachers’ conception of reflection onto the service-learning goal of transformative education. From the data set, we identify four conceptual domains echoing varying conceptions of reflection in literature: reflection as transformative learning, as mindful practice, as evaluation exercise, and as articulated thinking – with the most popular being evaluation exercise and transformational learning.

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Data Availability

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For the etymology and early usages of reflection, see word entry in the Latin lexicon of Perseus Digital Library.

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Funding

The study was partially supported by Grant PolyU4/T&L/16–19 from the Hong Kong University Grants Committee and the Service-Learning and Leadership Office of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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All authors contributed to the conception, design, and development of the study, likewise to material preparation, data collection and analysis. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Rina Marie Camus and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rina Marie Camus.

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This paper is part of a research project approved by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Human Subjects Ethics Sub-committee, reference no.HSEARS20201110007.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Camus, R.M., Ngai, G., Kwan, K.P. et al. Knowing where we Stand: Mapping Teachers’ Conception of Reflection in Service-Learning. Innov High Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-020-09534-6

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Keywords

  • Reflection
  • Service-learning
  • Experiential pedagogy
  • Transformative education/learning