13.1 Reflection on learning and on practice

Author: Celia Popovic and Fiona Smart

A key approach to improving teaching and learning has been to encourage those who teach to engage in critical reflective practice. This involves being mindful in the moment, reflecting on what worked and what didn't work immediately after a teaching session, and using that reflection to make changes or engage in professional development, all aimed at continual improvement. This approach was heavily influenced by Schon's The Reflective Practitioner. You might also find the work of Brookfield helpful – his four lenses can help you to find new/ different perspectives to support the ongoing development of your practice. We also find value in de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – if you haven’t discovered this work yet, do have a look.

Whatever the framework adopted; we suggest that educational developers benefit from a reflective approach to their work.

What does this mean in practice? Some people find it extremely useful to keep a journal, to note what worked and what didn't work in a given situation and to attempt to identify the contributory factors that led to the outcome.

If you have an example of reflective practice for educational developers, to share, please let us know either in the comments below or by email cpopovic@yorku.ca.


Argyris, C. and  Schön, D. (1974Theory in Practice Jossey Bass, San Francisco .

Baume, D. and Popovic, C. (ed.s) (2016) Advancing Practice in Academic Development, Routledge, London, New York.

de Bono, E. (1985) 6 Thinking Hats, Little, Brown and Company

Brookfield, S. (2002) Using the Lenses of Critically Reflective Teaching in the Community College Classroom, New Directions for Community Colleges, 118, 31-38.

 EDC guide to portfolios for educational development 

Schon, D. A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Basic Books.

A guide for new developers, York University Teaching Commons



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