Encouraging Reflection and Critical Friendship in Preservice Teacher Education
Reflectivity is an important professional competence of contemporary teachers. In order to explore how to encourage students’ reflection, we conducted a two-year action research project impelling them to become mutual critical friends. For critical friendship communication and other project activities, we utilised Moodle – an online learning management system. On the basis of the analysed data that were gathered at the end of each action research cycle, we determined that the students felt comfortable in the role of critical friends and that critical friends’ reflections were particularly pleasant for them. They experienced the comments of their critical friends as friendly, encouraging, useful, specific, interesting, detailed, positive, professional and clear. The majority of students (91%) think that the critical friendship discussion should be continued within the course Correlated-integrated systems in Croatian language teaching, and 85% of them suggest introducing this approach in other teachers’ education courses. We determined that the technical mode of reflective thinking prevails in the students’ correspondence. The practical or contextual level could rarely be observed while critical reflection was completely absent in 11 of 14 discussions. Reflective thinking of students (future teachers) should be fostered from the beginning of their studies within various courses, particularly in the pedagogical and methodological ones. To encourage their students to be critically reflective, university teachers should embrace reflective thinking by becoming critically-reflective practitioners and conducting action research in their teaching practices.
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