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Teaching Online in Texts and Technology

About Reflexivity

Reflexivity is a way for students to engage in their process of learning and experiencing within any given moment. It connects the knowledge being acquired to the knower. Reflexivity is important to encouraging creative thinking and help continue the cycle of learning through and by experience, a common trend in contrsuctivist education theories and many online learning spaces. Reflexive thinking helps learners to be thoughtful about the process they took to create their work and how those processes created the product, thereby uniting theory and practice. It is a process for active, engaging learning that lends itself well to the online classroom as a helpful tool to engage students in writing processes and processes of connecting their experience to the course content. The multi-modal possibilities for students to process reflexively are numerous within an online course.

The articles in this section aim to connect the reader with scholars and educators who use, theorize, or critque reflexivity as a learning method. The variety of authors in this collection aims to connect the diverse thoughts about reflexivity in the field today and attempt to create an understanding of effective practices to cultivating a space of reflection amongst students about their work and some effective ways and methodologies to foster reflexive thought among student learners in an online classroom. 

For more information about reflexivity, check out this helpful article from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Journal Articles

Bain, John D., Colleen Mills, Roy Ballantyne, and Jan Packer. “Developing Reflection on Practice Through Journal Writing: Impacts of variations in the focus and level of feedback.” Teachers and Teaching 8.2 (2002). Print.

The authors discuss how the role of the educator can impact the reflective practices of the students and note the main thing is to provide feedback. This helps students learn the material and learn about their practice. The authors created a study using journal writing to induce sites of feedback and encourage reflectivity, elaborating on the types of feedback and ways to provide feedback.

Bauman, Erica. “Emotions and reflexivity in feminised education action research.” Educational Action Research 14.3 (2006): 315-332. Print.

Bauman’s article might seem a little counter-intuitive to this list, but it provides a necessary counter to reflexivity. Bauman contends that reflexivity as it is predominantly used limits potential collaborations and place the focus on ourselves as individual researchers. Bauman poses challenges that need to be addressed when considering how to add reflexivity to a course, and her insights of collaboration versus individuality might be useful in navigating the online classroom.

Lefoe, Geraldine. “Creating Constructivist Learning Environments on the Web: The Challenge in Higher Education.” ASCILITE 98 (1998): 453-464. Print.

This paper provides a well-rounded and detailed overview of constructivist learning theory can establish environments in an online learning course. Numerous works discuss the connection between reflexivity and constructivist learning, but this paper provides a thorough overview of the theory, it’s implications, and it’s applications.

Matthew, Brian, and John Jessel. "Reflective and Reflexive Practice in Initial Teacher Education: A Crucial Case Study." Teaching in Higher Education 3.2 (1998): 231. Print.

This article is aimed at students who are training to teach. The article begins by distinguishing the difference between reflection and reflexivity, explaining reflexivity is being self-aware within certain moments and situations and leads to a better understanding of those situations through a better understanding of ourselves. Their study found that students who engaged reflexively were more apt to compose more detailed reflexive writing as well.

Macfarlane, Bruce and Lesley Gourlay. “The Reflection Game: Enacting the Penitent Self.” Teaching in Higher Education 14.4 (2009): 455-459. Print.

Like Bauman, Macfarlane and Gourlay challenge the role of reflection within the learning environment. As an online educator, it is important to be aware of concerns with reflexivity in order to better understand the process and how to use it. In this article, the authors point to additional “evidence” which could lead to assessment of the student’s work.

Mezirow, Jack. “A Critical Theory of Adult Learning and Education.” Adult Education Quarterly 32:3 (1981): 3-24. Print.

In this article Mezirow poses methods and guidelines for creating effective adult learning experiences, hoping to bring about a self-directed motivation from the learners. This motivation would easily fit within an online learning community. Reflexivity is one of the ways he suggests to bring about Andragogy, which he defines as “an organized and sustained effort to assist adults to learn in a way that enhances their capability to function as self-directed learners.” His paper has significant implications for incorporating reflexivity into online sites of learning.

Paily, M. U. "Creating Constructivist Learning Environment: Role Of "Web 2.0" Technology." International Forum of Teaching & Studies 9.1 (2013): 39-50. Print.

This article, like Lefoe’s, is extremely useful in understanding how a constructivist learning environment can be created within an online learning space and specifically deals with the technological approaches and methodologies that might be utilized within this environment. Additionally, the author uses these technologies and multi-media approaches to engage the learner and help establish communication and collaboration with students.

Perl, Sondra. “The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers” Reprint of Research in the Teaching of English 13.4 (1979) 317-336. Print.

In this classic study, Perl looks at the work of five students to analyze their writing processes. In order to study the five students within the class, Perl broke the writing assignments into two categories: extensive and reflexive. In doing this study she addresses how the writing process should vary with the assignment. She argues for instructors to take a closer look at the process the students go through when writing and not just the final product.

Tanaka, Gregory Kazuo. “Higher Education’s Self-Reflexive Turn: Toward an Intercultural Theory of Student Development.” The Journal of Higher Education 73.2 (2002): 263-296. Print.

Tanaka’s creates Intercultural theory using an amalgamation of other educational and social theories in order to craft a new framework for higher education. He points to the genealogy of reflexive practices and the postmodern turns of social theories and he seeks to explore the cultural backgrounds of students in order to better their experiences in the classroom.

Zembylas, Michalinos. "Engaging with Issues of Cultural Diversity and Discrimination through Critical Emotional Reflexivity in Online Learning." Adult Education Quarterly 59.1 (2008): 61-82. Print.

This article focuses on the emotional landscape of adult learners in online learning courses to explore how critical emotional reflexivity impacts the learning environment. To explore this, the author explored the ways in which adult learners responded to prompts and discussions, often taking more time to carefully craft their responses. The author found the students were eager to assert their “positionality,” which created a greater sense of reflexivity within their writing and allowed for a more significant conversation about difficult topics such as race and discrimination.