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  Applied Linguistics Review 2013; 4(2): 291 – 315

DOI 10.1515/applirev-2013-0013 

Steve Mann and Steve Walsh

RP or ‘RIP’: A critical perspective on
reflective practice
Abstract: This paper provides a critical review of reflective practice (RP), drawing
attention to particular problems with its representation, as well as proposing a
more evidence-based and data-led approach to RP. Our central argument is that
RP in the fields of applied linguistics, TESOL and education has achieved a status
of orthodoxy without a corresponding data-led description of its value, processes
and outcomes. Our concern is that RP is described in ways that are elusive, general, and vague and which may not be particularly helpful for practitioners. This
is largely due to the lack of concrete, data-led and linguistic detail of RP in practice and to its institutional nature, lack of specificity, and reliance on written
forms. It is also the case that, despite a small number of exceptions (e.g. Korthagen and Wubbels 1995; Walsh 2011), reflective practice is not operationalized in
systematic ways.
This paper argues that applied linguistics needs to champion a description of
RP’s processes and impact by drawing on data-led accounts of reflective practice
across a range of contexts. Too many RP accounts rely on general summaries and
so are neither critical, transparent, nor usable by other practitioners. A key aspect of developing a more critical approach is the need to move beyond rosy summaries of the outcomes of RP towards accounts of how RP gets done. Where possible we need to share examples of ‘reflection in action’ so that its nature and
value can be better understood. We propose here that RP needs to be rebalanced,
away from a reliance on written forms and taking more account of spoken, collaborative forms of reflection; in sum, we argue for a more dialogic, data-led and
collaborative approach to reflective practice.

Keywords: Reflective practice, reflection, teacher education, reflective tools, interaction, dialogue, collaboration

Steve Mann: University of Warwick. E-mail: steve.mann@warwick.ac.uk
Steve Walsh: Newcastle University. E-mail: steve.walsh@ncl.ac.uk

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  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh

292 

1 Introduction
Reflection and reflective practice continue to have a central position in pro­
fessional education: ‘the best thing any education can bequeath is the habit of
reflection and questioning’ (Grayling 2003: 179) and Moseley et al (2005) see the
highest level of thinking and learning in education as ‘strategic and reflective
thinking’. However, the central argument of this paper is that while reflective
practice (RP) has established itself as a ubiquitous presence in professional education and practice, its current status is not supported by detailed, systematic
and data-led description of either its nature or value. There are two responses to
this. The first is to say that RP has become so bloated and so riddled with inconsistencies that it needs to be put out of its misery and left to rest in peace (RIP).
The second is to take the position that it has potential value but needs to deal
with some of its problems and inconsistencies. It is the latter position which we
adopt here.
Fundamental to this position is the argument that while, for some RP might
be viewed as a management tool – used to measure and check teachers’ per­
formance, possibly to criticise and admonish – we maintain that it is still a very
useful means of promoting self-development. However, in its present form, we
recognise that RP cannot perform this function and that there needs to be a reconfiguration of RP, both in terms of focus and approach. Our motives for adopting
this perspective can be summarised as follows:
a. There is a lack of data-led research on RP and a need for data-led practice in
RP. Put simply, we need more evidence from the perspectives of both research
and professional development.
b. Current thinking in teacher education (both in general and specifically in relation to second language teacher education) values approaches which foster
teacher autonomy and self-development. For this to be effective, there is a
strong and pressing need for teachers to acquire the skills and practices
which will allow them to develop.
c. Following on from (a) and (b), we are proposing that teacher efficacy will be
heightened when teachers develop closer and better grounded understandings of their contexts. RP is, we suggest, the most appropriate means of ensuring that such understandings occur.
In this paper, we argue that while RP has considerable merit in professional education, it is:
– not sufficiently data-led
– too often presented as an individual process which fails to value collaboration or participation in a community of practice

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AL is uniquely positioned to both scrutinise and evaluate the impact of RP on professional practice. As a discipline. is to understand and improve practice (Schön 1991). we believe that AL should play a stronger role not only in promoting understandings of ‘real-world’ workplace practice but also in supporting the goal of RP in achieving this understanding. as a process of professional development. while at the same time enhancing understandings of the linguistic and interactional re­sources used to achieve this.mann@warwick. which. we see working towards a ­better understanding of reflective practice as a ‘real world’ challenge for applied linguistics (AL). AL has already played an important role in revealing that the majority of professional practices are accomplished through various forms of workplace interaction (see. By focusing on language as social action and considering the ways in which RP ‘gets done’ through human interaction. for example. we are adopting a ‘pragmatically motivated’ (Bygate 2005: 571) perspective on the situated real-world circumstances of reflective practice. education. However. Consequently.ac. Edwards and Westgate 1992. The role of RP too. Drew and Heritage 1992) and that institutional practice is inextricably linked to language and communication. is concerned with ‘the theoretical and empirical investigation of real-world problems in which language is a central issue’ (Brumfit 1995: 27). business) practitioners need to reflect. Indeed. reflection and the real world Across a range of areas of professional practice (healthcare.1 Language.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . 1. In the second part of the paper. Given the embedded status of reflective practice in professional education and to some extent in CPD. we consider how these issues might be addressed in a move towards rebalancing and revitalising RP. These can be expressed in the distinction between ‘the language for reflection’ and ‘the language of ­reflection’: Authenticated | steve. there is also a need to understand the nature of reflection itself and we argue that there are therefore two ­elements of the potential role of AL in understanding RP. as is widely recognised.  293 RP or ‘RIP’  – dominated by written forms of reflection at the expense of potentially more beneficial spoken forms – insufficiently detailed about the nature of reflective tools The first part of the paper discusses how RP might be viewed from an applied linguistics perspective and then describes each of these four challenges in more detail. We believe that a better understanding of RP is more likely to elucidate the ‘real world’ of professional practice and help work towards better outcomes in professional development.

mann@warwick. interaction and reflection. actually restrict opportunities for reflection and teacher learning). In particular. active and persistent engagement with a doubt or perplexity. its emphasis on serious. we would wish to foreground two aspects of Dewey’s conceptualization of reflection. Reflection is a highly complex process where thinking. This focus on language is not gratuitous.2 Origins and definitions A number of theorists (in particular Dewey. through focusing on the language used to achieve a task or complete a practice. Schön and Kolb) have been influential in the development of the concept of reflection.ac. put simply. Instead. In essence. Second. In returning to some of Dewey’s initial philosophic formulations of reflection we also hope to avoid some of the instrumentalism of many contemporary understandings (see Gray and Block 2012 who argue against the prevailing climate of ‘instrumental rationalization’ and worry that second language teacher education programmes often purport to facilitate the development of reflective practice but. knowledge and learning have a reflexive relationship (see Semetsky 2008).uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . First. Authenticated | steve. we can gain a finegrained understandings of how the task gets done. we believe that his calls for ‘hypothesis testing’ and ‘systematic method’ are close to the arguments we develop in this paper for more systematic and data-led approaches to RP. Dewey is widely credited for turning attention to the importance of experiential learning and reflective thought as the ‘sole method of escape from the purely impulsive or purely routine action’ (Dewey 1933: 15) and is concerned principally with the relationship between experience. A structured and systematic approach is more likely to lead to a clearer understanding of both the process and the potential outcomes of reflection. This is the main focus of this paper.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 294  – ( for reflection) the aim should be to produce tools and frameworks for finegrained understanding of professional activities – (of reflection) the aim should be to produce systematic accounts of the language used in reflection (an analytic challenge for AL). due to institutional constraints. encouraged and achieved through language. interaction. The first sense puts the focus on how the procedures of reflection might encourage attention to real-world linguistic and interactional features of professional practice. The second sense is process-oriented and puts the focus on the fact that RP is framed. our position has resonance with Dewey’s concerns about linear models of thinking. It could be argued that the key messages of this paper (albeit with a linguistic twist) are consistent with Dewey’s original formulations of reflection. that the process invites criticism and close examination. 1.

Killion & Todnem (1991) add ‘reflection-for-action’ which is forward looking and identifies steps or guidelines to follow to succeed in a given task in the future.ac. Reflectionin-action is synchronous with the professional act (thinking on your feet) and reflection-on-action is asynchronous (a reflection after the professional action or incident). like Mezirow (1991). While most definitions highlight the importance of experience. Zeichner (1994: 10) tells us that everyone ‘has jumped on the bandwagon’. there are huge variations in emphasis. RP established itself in the late 1980s. they vary in the extent to which they foreground interaction or action. again. Most include the intellectual and the affective (what you think and how you feel). Certainly by 1994. We do not have space in this paper to present a thorough literature review of reflection but it is worth attempting a definition.  295 RP or ‘RIP’  Schön (1983) picked up Dewey’s arguments and was influential.g. ‘For-action’ pushes the process in more sustained and systematic directions and so overlaps with notions of research (e. particularly in distinguishing between reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Journal of Teacher Education) in the early 1990s. we would not expect much agreement in definition. 1 For a fuller account of the ‘appeal’ and growth of RP we would recommend McLoughlin (1999). Some writers foreground a critical element (e. we will adopt the definition put forward by Boud.g. explora­ tory practice). The choice of this definition suits the purpose of this paper which is to deal with a subset of reflective activity (spoken and collaborative reflection) and makes the argument that this kind of reflection is currently not recognised enough as there is too much focus on individual reflection. put the emphasis on critical self-awareness and critical reflection of presuppositions (on which learning is based). as the nature of reflection and critical reflection is often ill-defined (Hatton and Smith 1995). Authenticated | steve. We draw on this definition in the next section. action research.1 Bengtsson (1995) also provides a useful overview of contributions on reflection in pedagogical journals (e. where we go on to review specific areas of the problematic status of RP. Keogh. This is not easy. Two elements of many definitions are ‘action’ and ‘critical’. and Walker (1985: 3): [reflection is] a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which indi­ viduals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to new understandings and appreciation. For the purposes of this paper. Brookfield 1997.g.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . Bailin et al 2007). Given this range of use and emphasis.mann@warwick. though. arguably becoming a ‘fad’ in the 1990s. while others. The importance of reflective practice as an integral part of actionorientated and practioner-led teacher development is outlined in Mann (2005).

This paper concentrates on data from teaching and teacher education but we believe that the arguments here hold for any professional practice. vague and unhelpful ways. We believe that more insider views of reflection (e. We see it as problematic that models and accounts of reflection Authenticated | steve. RP in the fields of AL. What follows takes a critical stance (extending previous cri­ ticisms and some of our own) in outlining key problems.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 296  2 RP problems There have been a number of concerns expressed in relation to reflection and RP. it is not the only show in town. 2. presented under four major themes: lack of data-led accounts. checklists and series of questions to be used as prompts. We can make a distinction between any professional task (that gets done) and the kind of reflection that goes on ‘in the head’ of an individual about that task.mann@warwick. there is a sense that RP has run its course and there is now a need to move ‘beyond reflective practice’ (Bradbury et al 2010) and consider new approaches to CPD. Farrell (2007). in an otherwise excellent introduction to reflective language teaching. However. While we recognise that individual ‘in the head’ reflection is both important and necessary.ac.2 Focus on the individual RP is often presented as an individual process that does not foreground collaboration or participation in a community of practice. comments on both the nature and value expressed in qualitative interviews and transcriptions of actual spoken reflection) will help provide a clearer understanding of the possibilities of ‘doing’ RP. there are no data extracts (although there is an insightful summarised scenario late in the chapter). processes and impact. has a chapter on collaborative teacher development in groups.g. There are too many accounts of reflection that contain models. dominance of written RP.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . using the ‘wrong’ reflective tools. Very few have examples of reflection and where data is included it is usually self-report or short extracts from reflective journals. 2. This means that it is usually dealt with in flabby.1 Lack of data-led accounts As we have argued. TESOL and education (and undoubtedly wider afield) has achieved a status of orthodoxy without a corresponding data-led description of its value. focus on the individual. For some. We are particularly worried about the lack of data about spoken reflective processes.

It is evident that knowledge and action can be co-constructed in conversational groups (Bailey 1996) and that the constructivist power of such ‘collaborative small groups’ (Bailey & Willet 2004: 15) can create opportunities for dialogic reflection. or rather the proforma.  297 RP or ‘RIP’  (e. It is important to explore the discourse/discourses of reflective writing (see also Mann and Walsh 2011 and Farr.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . our colleagues’ experiences. learning from other colleagues is not the same as a co-constructed sense of reflecting together through interaction (which is much more in tune with Dewey’s original formulation) and underestimates dialogic processes of collaborative reflection.ac. 2. We would agree with this but the notion of dialogic reflection should also include discourse with others (in various collaborative and workplace processes) as well as between different forms of knowledge. He says that reflection ‘is a process to help us learn from our own or others’ experiences and to turn that learning into action’ (our emphasis).g. The first.mann@warwick. Brookfield (1995: 92) too proposes that the goals of a critically reflective teacher should extend beyond autobiographical self-reflection and include the ‘critical reflective lenses of the students’ eyes. Foregrounding the individual process underestimates the value of collaborative processes. and theoretical literature. There are (at least) two outcomes of this approach. We also find Zepke’s definition (2003: 170) helpful in this regard.3 Dominance of written forms of reflection The dominance in RP literature of written forms of reflection at the expense of possible spoken forms is a key issue in this paper. there are also issues with the forms of writing required. Authenticated | steve. 2011 for arguments for the importance of a discourse perspective). Hatton and Smith (1995) see dialogic reflection as involving discourse with self. We recognise that it is important to look at the bigger context of individual written reflective texts (see Spiro and Wickens 2011). Apart from the washback effect of assessment on the discourse of reflection. Brockbank and McGill 2007) usually present reflection as an individual matter (the individual thinks about their intentions before teaching. conducts the class and then reflects ‘in their head’ on action). is that practitioners become concerned with completing the reflective task (whether this has any connection with their ‘real’ experience or not). At its worst. In particular we have concerns about the way that assessment and evaluation distort the kind of reflection that individuals do. as stated above. which she argues enables new understandings to be established. particularly experiential and received knowledge (Wallace 1991). A common problem with written forms of RP is that the focus of attention becomes the actual writing itself. Johns’ model (2000) puts more emphasis on the act of sharing with a colleague or mentor. However. checklist or whatever which is used as a stimulus to reflection.

just fake it (Gray and Block.mann@warwick. As Scott (2005: 27) says. But because it’s evidence based actually I could very well not have done these things and written that I had anyway. ‘reflective writing. We can see some of these issues embedded in the following interview comments from Elena on an initial teacher education course (PGCE: Postgraduate Certificate in Education).uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . 2010: 27). The second problem with this approach is that the reflective task is not graded to the corresponding stage of development. Teachers in training. practitioners might be encouraged to think more deeply. ostensibly a form of self-analysis. Elena has ­finished her teaching-practice in London and although she has had a positive experience. They can easily become ‘mechanical’ and ‘recipe-following’ (Boud. where the twin pressures of external course demands and natural ten­ dency to conceal weaknesses and concentrate on strengths and success stories combine to limit real reflection. A probable consequence then is that reflections operate. takes place in an institutional forum and is scrutinized according to institutional means and standards’. especially if there is scope for progression in the tasks themselves. The use of proformas on such initial teacher education courses may be counter-productive given that trainees are asked to repeatedly reflect and write down their thoughts. Block and Gray make the point that this kind of text is an admission that ‘bookkeeping exercises’ (showing evidence) are being pushed aside by the trainee and that ‘institutional lip-service is being paid the idea of reflection’ (2012: 131). They’re asking you to create the evidence out of nothing but it’s completely possible because it’s such a long list and I told my mentor that and he said well do it if you think by the end of the year you haven’t produced evidence for everything. at best. This is an English translation of the original Spanish version from the research interview: I spent a whole day last week writing the evidence which consists of seven sentences starting today I realised this and bla bla bla. Bolton sees such social structures as limiting the value of personal experience and ‘increasingly hemming professionals in’ (2010: 11). It sheds light on the question of whether achieving reflection is encouraged in a criteria-led and evidence-based process.ac. By using a variety of tasks. The worry is that reflection is ‘subverted and trivialised at the very moment when Authenticated | steve. for example. at surface level and there is often no real evidence of engagement or criticality. she is clearly frustrated by the form-filling and beaurocratic aspects of the job. 2012: 130–1). could benefit greatly from completing a range of reflective tasks over time rather than completing the same task (a checklist or proforma) again and again.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 298  this can result in inauthentic reflection (Roberts 1998) and even ‘faking it’ (Hobbs 2007). Hobbs argues that reflection is especially difficult for novice teachers (her context is an initial teacher certificate course).

through the mentor’s advice. It is held that reflection can be ‘slippery’ (Moon. First of all. that it is relatively easy for trainee teachers to ‘fake’ evidence or reflections. there may be a design problem of the lack of progression in the reflective tools and tasks (see above). Finally. a constant process of trying to ‘get it right’ in which ‘saying it right’ or ‘thinking it right’ are intermediary processes. it demonstrates. which may be limiting. Secondly. Then there is the ‘too much too soon’ problem which is especially problematic in short pre-service courses (see Hobbs 2007). it suggests that the time Elena has to reflect on the teaching process is taken up instead with mechanical form-filling. It distils. We need to think more about the distinction between ‘reflection through writing’ and ‘writing as a record of reflection’. 2004: 4) and so it needs to be recorded while it is fresh in the mind. It is reflection in itself. The problem with an evidence-based checklist approach is that it prioritises a product orientation to learning. there is the ‘one-size fits all’ problem where the tool is not sufficiently orientated to particular contextual needs. First. We observe that many prompts for reflection are problem-based. they stifle budding reflection. it shows reflection on the process of becoming a teacher.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . Allwright argues that ‘puzzle’ avoids the negative connotations of problem (admission of incompetence) and involves areas of professional life we might just  ‘want to try to understand better’ (2003: 117). It does not value reflective writing as a process. If they are too complicated.4 Appropriate reflective tools There remain issues with the nature and timing of reflective tools used. the reflective task becomes an institutionalised requirement that then encourages superficial engagement or inauthentic reflection. Munby and Russell (1990) also ­suggest puzzles of practice and this is more in tune with Schön’s view that Authenticated | steve. Reflective tasks need to be introduced slowly. It might be just as useful to think of other triggers in line with ex­ ploratory practice (Allwright and Hanks 2009). writing is not just a record of reflection. This extract is interesting in a number of other ways. The process of reflective articulation does not report pre-existing thought. although this may not be the kind of reflection that that ‘they’ (the tutors) want. If they become an ‘increasing chore’ and there is a lack of variety.ac. It is ongoing and reflexive.mann@warwick. Thirdly. 2. In addition. However.  299 RP or ‘RIP’  genuine opportunities for reflection might be useful’ (ibid). situation or event and increases awareness. there is more than a suggestion in this comment that it might be helpful for trainees to provide their own evidence for professional development rather than selecting from a list provided by the institution. Exploratory practice avoids the perceived problem-based orientation of action research and focuses on ‘puzzles’. clarifies or even reframes an experience.

uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . data-led and linguistic description of the nature of RP. 3 RP: A way forward So far in this paper we have argued that AL and Reflective Practice share the same concern: solving real world problems where language is a key issue (Brumfit 1995: 27). including ITE (initial teacher education).1 Data-led RP One of the key ways in which RP practices and procedures could be made more principled and objective is to make the whole process data-led. 3. there is a fundamental need to understand the language used to accomplish a particular workplace activity. presented in three parts: a.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 300  attention should be brought to bear on ‘some puzzling or troubling or interesting phenomenon’ (1983: 50).mann@warwick. or through a more autonomous self-development route. Data-led reflective practice b. we present evidence from our own data-sets. accumulated over a number of years. which will be addressed below. we propose a more empirical. CPD (continuing professional development) and contexts where teachers are working independently or as part of a research project.ac. and taken from a range of teacher education and professional development contexts. In this section. While the focus here is very much towards second language teacher education. The preceding section highlighted the key problems associated with RP. our concerns extend to all contexts in which teachers are pursuing professional development. Reflective practice is an important element of achieving such awareness and understanding. either as part of a structured programme such as a Diploma or Master’s degree. with a focus on spoken interaction and an endeavour to examine the ways in which meanings in a range of professional settings are co-constructed. In light of the Authenticated | steve. The methodology we are using to analyse the data is broadly discourse analysis. we suggest. In order to reflect properly on practice. In the section which follows. Appropriate tools for RP The second of these (b) combines a response to two of the problems outlined above: too much focus on the individual and the dominance of written forms of reflection are two sides of the same coin. Dialogic RP c.

How­ ever. public. in a process where the smallest details (in the data) can be a prompt for reflection and then changes can be implemented and then evaluated (van Lier 2000). This is consistent with van Lier’s view of ‘ecological research’ and the kind of reflexive relationship (between interaction. using a teacher’s own data. language. our argument is that a  teacher’s own data is a particularly rich resource. research for many involves the collection and analysis of data and the publication of findings. since within these details maybe contained the seeds of learning. As we have said above. They are both the producers and consumers of their research (Kumaravadivelu 1999). this process is situated and concerned with the development of an ­appropriate methodology (Holliday 1994). The kind of research we are describing here is small-scale.  301 RP or ‘RIP’  fact  that teaching is a hugely complex process. We see this kind of use of data as different from data in ‘big R’ research (large-scale. involving multi-party talk and any  number of agendas occurring simultaneously. it is.g. learning and knowledge) that we emphasised earlier. context-specific and private. This is partly a question of ownership and where there is ownership of the data  there is more likely to be a change in teaching behaviour. the question then becomes ‘whose data’? We can take the position that any form of data can be helpful in providing opportunities for reflection. (Van Lier 2000: 11) The advantage of this approach is that practice is theorised. we suggest. difficult to reflect without some kind of evidence. Van Lier’s perspective on ‘ecological research’ sees teaching practices in the classroom as being comparable with any natural environment in which the slightest change to one sub-system will affect other systems: Ecological research pays a great deal of attention to the smallest detail of the interaction. Put simply. Authenticated | steve.ac. data is a key form of evidence  and evidence-based decision-making lies at the heart of developing ap­ propriate practice in any organisation. generalizable). The reflective teacher can learn to ‘read’ the environment to notice such details.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . critical incidents) but we are making a particular argument here for the value of recorded data and transcripts of these recordings. any form of data can be useful (e. The main justification for the kind of microscopic analysis we are suggesting is the fact that the research is located in a context that is both clearly defined and familiar. since teachers are  more engaged when they use data from their own context and experience.mann@warwick. Greater understanding of professional practice is more possible when a process of inquiry is carried out in the teacher’s natural environment. localised. Of course. conducted by teachers for their own ends. If we accept that data is central to reflection. Typically. narrative accounts.

uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM .) th. . In the following extract. Exploratory Practice (EP) (see Allwright 2003) and Action Research (AR) rest on the premise that teachers can and should investigate their own classrooms and both processes have reflection at their core. For example. data analysis and finally outcomes – in the form of changes to practice – are suggested. we see an example of two university-based teacher-­ trainers using transcripts of their feedback sessions as an impetus for reflection. the ‘big R’ research model may not be appropriate here. They have been talking about the kinds of activities included in the feedback sessions (and their relative merit). This process is normally a collaborative one.) I might suggest that they use some of Pebblepad discussions to choose an observation focus (. The starting point for AR is the identification of a puzzle or issue. Although.ac. Edge (2011: 20) talks of ‘consistency’ (the demand of teachers that they should be reflective must also apply to the teacher educator).) the focus needs to come from them more often (. Indeed.) if they were more involved in choosing the focus of the observations they’d get more out of it (.) I’m beginning to think it might be useful to look again at the way we use observation and discussion tasks (. are strong enough to invite confrontation of their teaching and to make themselves vulnerable to inquiry into the incongruities in their teaching’. The process continues with data collection. as we have argued above. The value Authenticated | steve.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 302  It is also worth saying that the value of this kind of data-led reflective process is just as important for teacher-trainers as for novice teachers. involving discussion and dialogue with a colleague or ‘critical friend’ (see below).) What is interesting about this piece of data is that it not only shows how the teacher-trainer is considering how best to promote engagement and reflection (through integrating Pebblepad discussions to encourage trainees to choose the observation focus) but it gives an insight into how a data-led process (the use of transcripts) can lead to new possibilities in practice. . more informal traditions do resonate with the position we are adopting.mann@warwick.) sometimes think they get in the way of the trainees (. Edge quotes Argyris & Schön (1974: 196) that we need teacher educators who ‘.) too much our agenda maybe= B: =you mean in the actual feedback sessions A: yeah (.(. In this extract Trainer A articulates a view concerned with the origin and nature of the feedback discussion tasks: Extract 1 A: It was really interesting looking closely at this one (. a teachereducator who practices what he or she preaches is more likely show commitment to and therefore promote reflective practice.

In this section. In short. Socio-cultural views of learning are helpful here. we consider how any future repositioning of RP should emphasize dialogic collaboration. emphasizing as they do the fact that all human development is underpinned by language. Authenticated | steve. is supported by collaborative discussion where thoughts and ideas about classroom practice are first articulated and then reformulated in a progression towards enhanced understanding. one of the first steps is usually to talk about it.ac. An example of such a process would be cooperative development. if we wish to develop. ‘data’ are things like recordings of a teaching session.  303 RP or ‘RIP’  and relevance of this kind of exploratory or informal research is self-evident: it helps teachers to focus on issues or puzzles in their own classrooms and is desirable from the position of both professional development and learning. a conversation with a group of students. we suggest. However. collecting data means collecting evidence. but in discussion with another practitioner.2 Dialogic reflective practice This section combines two of our central concerns: that reflective practice is often conducted in a written form and that it is often an individual enterprise. In this approach. Developing experiential knowledge. understand or improve in any aspect of our lives. Here. the point we want to emphasise is that an action research process is data-led and that reflection on collected data is integral.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . Quite simply. but that social activity is the process through which human cognition is formed. minute papers2 and so on. reflection on practice does not occur in isolation. . Improvement in awareness and teaching performance can be facilitated by the collection and analysis of a small amount of data. feedback from a colleague who has observed a teaching session. They are quick to complete (hence ‘minute paper’) and give useful feedback on specific teaching sessions.’ (Lantolf & Johnson 2007: 878). The process of social interaction forms the internalized psychological tools that fuel reflection (Johnson and Golombek 2011). often talk. . a set of test results. which involves a ‘Speaker’ and an ‘Understander’ (Edge 2002).mann@warwick. which will help a teacher address a particular issue. It is especially important for novice teachers to have opportunities for 2 Minute papers are short. It is not that social activity influences cognition . written evaluations by students on a teacher’s teaching. Our argument is that we should be embracing a dialogic/collaborative view of reflection that allows potentially richer articulation and analysis (see also McCabe et al 2010). 3.

 . As a way of exemplifying how dialogue might enhance reflection. T1’s response is quite revealing: she says that reduced echo makes learners more confident and that a lot of echo is unnecessary. . consider this extract in which two teachers (T1 and T2) on an in-service teacher education programme are discussing their use of ‘teacher echo’ (repetitions) in an ESL context involving a group of multilingual adult learners. new realisations and greater insights come about and get their first airing. but a LOT of the time . . It is this kind of ‘light bulb moment’ which professional dialogue can create. did it have any effect that you noticed? T1: I think that it made them more confident perhaps in giving me words because it was only going to come back to them if the pronunciation WASn’t right rather than just getting ((1)) straight back to them. . part of which is shown in extract 2 below: Extract 2 T1: I was struck by how much echoing I did before and sometimes there was a justification for it . They then individually made a short (15 minute) video-recording of their teaching. The next step was to watch both recordings together and use this as a basis for discussion.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 304  reflection through talk so that they articulate current understanding but also experience’ the forms of inquiry by which competent practitioners reason their way. This extract is taken from an action research Authenticated | steve. Arguably. . T1 is reflecting on her use of ‘echo’. to clear connections between general knowledge and particular cases’ (Schön 1987: 39). Both teachers had agreed on a focus for attention in their teaching (teacher echo). the teacher Nick (N) is discussing ‘wait time’ with a colleague Irene (I). the repetition of student contributions – a common feature of classroom discourse.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . . Her realisation that echo can become a kind of habit (‘echo for echo’s sake’) is probed by T2 who asks about the effect of echo on learner involvement. T2’s contribution allows her to think about her language use and give reasons. When you’re eliciting vocabulary if they’re coming out with the vocabulary and it’s adequate and it’s clear. Here we see very clearly the value of dialogue in promoting closer understandings. Through talk. possibly for the first time. there’s no need for you to echo it back to the other students .ac. you’re wasting a lot of time by echoing stuff back. .mann@warwick. it was just echo for the sake of echo so I was fairly consciously trying NOT to echo this time T2: And what effect did that (reduced echo) have on the interaction patterns or  the involvement of learners in the class. this realisation may not have occurred without an opportunity to discuss echo and reflect on its effects. In a second example (extract 3 below). . . in problematic instances.

 . The aim of the project was to help teachers improve their understandings of teacher talk. a spoken rather than written form of RP and the involvement of a colleague allowed Nick to analyse this aspect of his teaching in sharper focus and make changes by increasing wait-time where necessary. In this example of dialogic RP. In the next section we consider how appropriate tools might enhance RP. there is a growing realisation of the value of wait-time in whole class open discussion (I just gave them whatever time they needed).] and they HAVE to literally look into their own minds and do they have an experience which relates to the question) and he makes the interesting observation that for some students. . it would appear from Nick’s comments that this is the first time he has been in a position to actually think about wait time as an important phenomenon and one that teachers need to incorporate into their teaching. approach. Of course. Lots of GAPS here where you think there’s nobody replying and then they suddenly come in I: Was that conscious or was that just something. Extract 3 N: I just found it was very enjoyable and the feedback. addresses the need for more spoken forms of reflection and for a collaborative. Authenticated | steve. Note too how his colleague. . like extended wait-time. this takes more time and they need to be given that time (the wait-time is ALways more extensive for them). Nonetheless. we see how. rather than individual. A dialogic approach to reflective practice. Arguably. .mann@warwick. .ac. ? N: No I deliberately because I know that the far-easterners have problems speaking and therefore I gave them I just gave them whatever time they needed you know. we might also note that Nick is stereotyping Korean students with these comments. In some cases they’re processing the question and they’re processing the information and they HAVE to literally look into their own minds and do they have an experience which relates to the question. And this is the case I think particularly with Roy with Yung rather and Jang who are Korean I think the wait-time is ALways more extensive for them. something which we’d obviously want to avoid. He comments on what actually happens following a teacher prompt (they’re processing the question [. A further data extract collected by Nick actually teaching showed him using longer pauses and extended wait time. for Nick. we suggest. plays an important role in guiding the discussion and in helping Nick to clarify his own thinking around a particular issue.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM .  305 RP or ‘RIP’  project in which teachers were considering their use of language and interaction in an adult ESL setting. teacher-participants became researchers of their own practices (Walsh 2006). Irene.

there is a case to be made for the use of ‘ad hoc’ instruments. Wallace 1998). calculable and predictable and which guarantee the delivery of a standardised product into the educational marketplace’.3. interaction and learning. to some extent. exemplify the kinds of tools we are advo­ cating (for example.1 ‘Ad hoc’ self-observation In the earlier sections of this paper. Such an approach permits up-close self-observation and allows for the emergence of detailed understanding of professional practice. we present two further examples of tools that teachers might use to facilitate a process of RP and make it more data-led. for example. to some extent at least. An ad hoc based approach to self-observation responds to the issue of standardisation that Gray and Block (2012: 141) raise. designed for specific tasks in specific contexts (c. Similar tools have been advocated by other researchers with an overall goal of making classrooms more dialogic and more ­engaging for learners (see.3 Appropriate tools for RP The previous two sections established arguments for a more data-led and more collaborative approach to RP. it is an adaptable instrument comprising four micro-contexts (called modes) and 14 interactional features (such as clarification request. avoid issues of standardisation. Authenticated | steve. teacher echo). Mortimer and Scott 2003. Essentially. It has been used and adapted to a range of contexts globally and is now employed on initial teacher education courses in. They present a critique of ‘a McDonaldised system designed to produce teachers capable of using basic tools of the trade such as textbooks in ways which are efficient.mann@warwick. One example of such an instrument was devised by Walsh (2006). Singapore. Ireland and Taiwan (see Walsh 2011). for example. In this section. The extracts pre­ sented above already. we demonstrate how appropriate tools may assist data collection and promote collaboration. By recording their classes and then completing the SETT grid. the use of teachers’ own transcripts and the use of video-­ recordings). without the need for a transcription or recording.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 306  3.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . display question. Ad hoc tools are designed by and for teachers in a local context and so. The SETT (self evaluation of teacher talk) framework was designed in collaboration with a group of university TESOL teachers and used to help teachers gain closer understandings of the complex relationship between language.f. teachers establish a ‘snapshot’ of their verbal behaviour while teaching. Alexander 2008). we argued against the wholesale adoption of frameworks or models for RP. This said. 3. Below.ac.

Mike. This procedure.] I’m going to give them a lot of examples so that’s all scaffolding  isn’t it?).ac. What we are witnessing here is that this teacher is reflecting through dialogue. has analysed her teaching using the SETT framework and is talking about her evaluation with a colleague. Joy.mann@warwick. The focus of the reflection is scaffolding. 3.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . and explain why. Both teachers are using the framework as part of an INSETT programme and working towards their DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching for Adults) qualification. Not only are teachers able to discuss ­particular aspects of their teaching. Lyle 2003) has the immediate advantage of allowing both parties to watch Authenticated | steve. the teacher. they are also able to give reasons for a ­particular strategy and make observations about its appropriacy at a given ­moment. Joy explains that scaffolding occurs more in skills and systems mode because this is the mode where the main focus is the language itself (it’s so ­focused on language). known as stimulated recall. Extract 4 Mike: Is scaffolding something you think you do more of in that type of mode for example you’re in a skills and systems mode here? Do you think it’s something that happens more in some modes than others or is it maybe too difficult to say at this stage? Joy: My first feeling would be yes because it’s so focused on language that anything they give me that might not be correct and not clear then I’m going to re-formulate it or anything they don’t understand I’m going to give them a lot of examples so that’s all scaffolding isn’t it? This is perhaps the first time that Joy has had an opportunity to reflect on her use of scaffolding. for example. . understand when a particular practice occurs. Her comments indicate that she is trying to both understand for herself and explain to Mike how scaffolding occurs in practice (I’m going to re-formulate it [. (see.  307 RP or ‘RIP’  In extract 4 below. Mike plays a key role in this extract in helping Joy to clarify her own reflections. .2 Stimulated recall One of the most powerful means of promoting reflective practice is to get teachers to make a video-recording of their teaching and then discuss it with a critical friend or colleague.3. based on an earlier analysis of her own interactions with students. We ­suggest that this is a far more effective means of promoting RP than simply asking  people to reflect on their practice.

  This ­extract is taken from the action research project described above. – In 4. L1: =the music business? what is the name of of er industry?= 6.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 308  something and comment on it together.mann@warwick. it is used to get practitioners to actually recall specific incidents and comment on them. the teacher Mary is explaining how she ­clarified a piece of vocabulary which had been elicited (Note that the classroom  interaction is presented on the left. M: =is this a word you’re thinking of in Basque or Spanish in English I don’t know this word ‘disco-graphics’ what I would say is er (writes on board) like you said ‘the music business’= 5. Learner 1 is trying to explain a word) 1. but I wasn’t prepared to spend a long time on that because it didn’t seem important even though there was still a doubt in my mind . L1: discographics= 2. the teacher’s commentary on the right). Mary also scaf- Authenticated | steve. I understood at the time that she meant that this was a particular industry but maybe she meant a business . offering an acknowledgement of L1’s previous contribution (‘like you said’).uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . L1: the people who not the people the (4) the business about music record series and= 4. which is immediately met with surprise by Mary in 2. . – L1 tries to explain (in 3) and encounters some perturbation.ac. . . where teachers were analysing their own use of language while teaching (Walsh 2006). . indicated by selfinitiated self-repair and a 4 second pause. In its purest form. In extract 5 below. Extract 5 (The teacher is eliciting vocab items and collecting them on the board. M: =ooh what do you mean? 3. . . ‘discographics’. . which Mary ignores. for example. L1 comes up with an ‘invented’ piece of vocabulary. M: =the music industry as well it’s actually better I was going to say it’s a false friend but I decided not to because I thought that might confuse her . Mary interrupts L1 (indicated =) and seeks clarification. . It is a very useful tool and an excellent means of raising awareness about specific features of a teacher’s professional practice. . preferring to let L1 struggle a little longer. maybe I misunderstood her now when I look back at it . but it can also be used as a stimulus to provide ‘talking-points’ and promote discussion. . A number of observations can be made about the interaction: – In 1.

that stimulated recall is a particularly useful ­data-led reflective tool. from this extract. – In 5. We need better data-led descriptions of levels and types of reflection.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . 4 Conclusions AL has already provided useful attention to ‘talk at work’ (e. – Mary again interrupts (in 6).g. The main argument of this paper is that RP needs to rebalanced away from an  individual written version of RP towards processes which are data-led. Stimulated recall is relatively easy to organise. both suggesting some doubt and confusion. Her insights offer a detailed analysis of a repair strategy which may have backfired and caused more confusion.  309 RP or ‘RIP’  folds a more ‘precise’ term. data  and dialogue.mann@warwick. It is clear. much can be learned by participants and  it is a methodology which brings together very nicely the various elements  which we have argued. . Authenticated | steve. Edwards and Westgate 1992. inexpensive and unobtrusive. and as evidenced in 5 (see above). are necessary for RP to work effectively: tools. . There is doubt both in Mary’s comments (there was still a doubt in my mind . and has considerable potential for influencing professional ­development. She is able to rationalise the whole process and take stock of the different courses of action taken. This paper has argued that AL can also provide a lead in looking at how data can aid reflection and a professional learning process. and alternatives rejected (I was going to say it’s a false friend but I decided not to because I thought that might confuse her). By her own admission. and in the questions asked by L1 (the music business? what is the name of industry?).ac. We also believe that an AL perspective can usefully be brought to bear on the nature of reflective talk itself. offering as it does an opportunity for teachers to use data  to inform their reflections and then engage in dialogue to fine tune their thinking. it is apparent that L1 is not satisfied with this attempted clarification. . Mary’s self-reflections on her data are interesting. Drew and Heritage 1992). offering ‘the music business’ as a more appropriate phrase for ‘discographics’. there was some uncertainty about the outcome of this repair being successfully achieved. This paper has not directly addressed this perspective but we hope the paper might act as a catalyst for such description. possibly preventing a fuller explanation from L1 and possibly causing further confusion. Even without the transcripts. Mary is also able to accept that she may have understood L1’s explanation and that she possibly could have allowed more time. as indicated by her two questions.).

decisions. and scenarios are foregrounded. In avoiding vague understandings. There are likely to be tensions in many ­contexts where RP is used for professional development. it goes without saying that teachers need a staffroom for this to be true (and not all schools have such a space). This is why reflection is important. we need more accounts of reflective tools which consider their nature and appropriacy at particular stages of professional development. There may be a concern that the approach to RP ­being proposed here could result in a proliferation of ‘standard’ practices and promote beliefs which are not always appropriate in a particular context. It may be true that dialogic RP is not necessarily always the most effective and we certainly acknowledge that written reflections have a key role to play. However. In redirecting our focus towards collaborative and spoken processes. As well as descriptions of reflective practice. It is also worth making the point that reflection might be better seen as part of teachers’ jobs – rather than an ‘add on’ or ‘extra thing to do’. We also need more critical accounts that examine whether institutional support for reflective practice are also backed up by creating opportunities for such collaborative talk (both in terms of time and space). We are not claiming that a more dialogic and collaborative approach to RP is  without problems and challenges. it is still our contention that a more data-led treatment of RP will help in achieving greater understanding of professional practice. there may  be issues relating to the social relations of those engaged in RP – trust and  mutual respect are clearly essential. but it encourages a view that teachers are always in a process of becoming a better teacher. we are not suggesting that the autonomous individual is incapable of self-reflection. there is clearly a key role for AL to play in any future revitalisation of RP.ac. for example. Richards (1999) shows how stories provide the basis for collaborative understandings. we see staffroom talk as crucial to informal processes of reflection. dialogic and which use appropriate tools.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 310  c­ ollaborative. Considerations of appropriacy and fit with context are always and necessarily in a state of flux and accommodation. While some valuable work has been done. especially if the data involves those doing the reflecting. This not only gives a more concrete idea of what reflection looks like. Such a repositioning of RP might contribute to deeper understandings of ‘real-world’ workplace practice. This might help avoid the situation prevailing on many teacher education programmes where reflection is left to the individual who lacks clarity about what reflection might look like.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . This would mean that RP gets timetabled into the working week and teachers are properly paid for it. we need to design teacher education materials which ­integrate data-led examples of reflective practice so that choices. Nonetheless. ­puzzles. In Authenticated | steve.mann@warwick. For example.

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& Theo Wubbels. Teachers and Teaching. Johnson.ac. James P. 2004. London: Routledge. Oxford: Blackwell Science.ac. Co-operative inquiry: Research into the human condition. Jack. 33(2). Steve Walsh. Johnson. and Karen E. John. Mann. Maughan. Educational Leadership. 405–417. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Paula R. London: Routledge. 2003. Eduardo and Phillip Scott. 29(6). Geelong. Bernard. Faking it or hating it: can reflective practice be forced? Reflective practice. Mezirow. 2002. Golombek. Ron Wideman and Eileen Winter. The R word in teacher education: understanding the teaching and learning of critical reflective practice. Christopher. Research on second language teacher education: A sociocultural perspective on professional development. Buckingham: Oxford University Press. 103–118. 91(5). Authenticated | steve. 2005. Educational philosophy and theory. Fred. 2003. 2007. 51(1). Critical classroom discourse analysis. 875–890. Journal of Teacher Education. Loughran. John & Geoff Todnem. Meaning making in secondary science classrooms. Language Teaching. 1991. Chris and John Webb. Moon. Johnson. Lantolf. Robin and Stephen McTaggart. Mike. 1996. The Modern Language Journal. Korthagen. Becoming a reflective practitioner: a reflective and holistic approach to clinical nursing. 1995. Australia: Deakin University Press. 33–43. McLaughlin. 861–878.  313 RP or ‘RIP’  Heron John. Small group learning and assessment. The action research planner (third edition). Moseley. London: Sage Publications. 2011. Kumaravadivelu. Mortimer. 9–25. 2011. Mann. 38(3). 2011. Extending Firth & Wagner’s ontological perspective to L2 classroom praxis and teacher education.html McCabe. 2000.uk/resources/ temp/assessment. Karen E. International electronic journal for leadership in learning. Johns. Paper presented at the reflection in the round: Discourses and practices of reflection at the BAAL/CUP seminar (Oxford Brookes University). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. A process for personal theory building. Retrieved August 02c. Frameworks for thinking: A handbook for teaching and learning. (Eds. 453–484. State-of-the-art: the language teacher’s development. John. Stimulated recall: a report on its use in naturalistic research. Effective reflective practice: In search of meaning in learning about teaching. 2005. 51–72. Kemmis. Vivienne Baumfield. 1999.). Steve and Steve Walsh. A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: Theory and practice. A. Karen E. 1(1).1999. Understanding communication in second language classrooms. Lyle. 1995. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.ukcle. 14–16. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hobbs. 1992. Victoria. David. Jennifer. British Educational Research Journal. 8(3).uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . 31(1). 2001. Julian Elliott and Steven Higgins. Killion. J. Valerie. 2007. T. 1991. Characteristics of reflective practitioners: towards an operationalization of the concept of reflection. TESOL Quarterly. E. 48(7). from the Higher Education Academy website: www. practice development and clinical supervision. Beyond the reflective practitioner. 2012. Shaping reflective tools to context. Steve.mann@warwick.

Gordon. Steve. London: The Falmer Press. 2011. Steve. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994. 1986. Working towards common understandings: Collaborative interaction in staffroom stories. 3–26.P. 2008. Tony. 2003. 116–121. 1990. or: Re-reading Dewey through the lens of complexity science. Language teacher education. 1998. London: Arnold. Vygotsky. In J. Educational Philosophy and Theory. 1987. Available at: https://wiki. Investigating classroom discourse. Inna.40(1). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. June 24 2011. Oxford Brookes University. Keith. Action research for language teachers. Sveinung Vaage and Ingrid Carlgren (Eds) Teachers’ minds and actions: Research on teachers’ thinking and practice. Exploring classroom discourse: Language in action. BAAL-CUP Seminar. Creating the subject of portfolios: Reflective writing and the conveyance of institutional prerogatives.) Reflection to transformation: A self-help book for teachers. He is Director of MA ELT programmes. Wallace. Jane and Paul Wickens. On the creative logic of education. 1999. Donald. London: Temple Smith. Kenneth. 2011. Zeichner. Schön. In Nick Zepke. Wallace. Thought and language. Hugh and Tom Russell. Richards. 29. Research on teacher thinking and different views of reflective practice in teaching and teacher education. 1999. 22(3). 1983. Educating the reflective practitioner. Dialogic inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of education. Text.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . Theory into Practice. 1998. Michael. Reflection in the round: Discourses and practices of reflection in HE. MA: MIT Press. London and New York: Routledge. The reflective practitioner. 1994. In Gunnar Handal. Walsh. 83–95. Bionotes Dr Steve Mann is Associate Professor at the Centre for Applied Linguistics at University of Warwick. From input to affordance: social-interactive learning from an ecological perspective. Leo. 19(1). Nick.ac. Schön. 1991. Essex: Longman. New Zealand: Dunmore Press Ltd.) Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Michael. Wells. Donald. Metaphor in the study of teachers’ professional knowledge. He previously lectured at both Aston University and University of Birmingham.  Steve Mann and Steve Walsh 314  Munby. 143–174. Alistair. Lev. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.uk/display/RIR/ June+24+BAAL_CUP+Seminar van Lier. The cultural politics of English as an international language. Scott. Pennycook. Jon.brookes. Written communication.ac. Cambridge. David Nugent & Louis Leach (eds. Zepke. London and New York: Routledge. 2000. Palmerston North. Spiro. San Francisco. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Ca: Jossey-Bass Inc. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reflecting-Learning-Teaching. 1991. 2006. He has experience in Authenticated | steve. Training foreign language teachers. Walsh. 2004. 17–33. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Donald. Lantolf (ed. Roberts. Westminster Institute of Education.mann@warwick. Semetsky. Schön.

classroom discourse.  315 RP or ‘RIP’  Hong Kong. Steve’s research ­interests include professional discourse. Steve supervises a research group of PhD students who are investigating teacher’s education and development. He has published extensively in these areas and is the Editor of the journal Classroom Discourse published by Routledge.mann@warwick. reflective practice and teacher beliefs. educational linguistics and analyzing spoken interaction. The group’s work considers aspects of teacher development. Spain. Poland and China. His most recent book Innovations in Pre-service Teacher Education (2013) is part of the British Council’s new Innovation Series.ac. Japan and Europe in both English language teaching and teacher development. Steve Walsh is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Director of Postgraduate Research in the School of Education. He has been involved in English Language Teaching for more than 20 years and has worked in a range of overseas contexts. including  Hong Kong.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM . second language teacher education. Authenticated | steve. Ireland. Hungary. teacher development. Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.

ac.mann@warwick.uk author's copy Download Date | 10/11/13 2:09 PM .Authenticated | steve.