Reflection and Its Role in our Cycle of Continuous Improvement

Cheryl Curtis, Ed.D., Student Affairs, Johnson C. Smith University

Reflection is one of the most important attributes of any practitioner. Reflection affords one the ability to think critically about an action, thought, or experience. Engaging in reflection enables and increases self-awareness and professional competence. Breakthroughs and improvements that facilitate personal and professional growth do not happen all at once. They happen incrementally. In a continuous cycle of improvement, the key element to that improvement is the ability to reflect and be intentional about the behavior that will change to achieve the desired results. Schon’s Theory of Reflection is the theoretical framework of research utilized which illustrated how an educational entity responded efficiently and effectively to a statewide reading mandate. Participants of this seminar will not only become more familiar with Schon’s theory, but, will be able to apply this to the phases of a continuous improvement process. Understanding of reflection and continuous cycles of improvement will prove to be beneficial for teaching and learning as well as everyday life!

Who Is Donald A. Schon?

Dr. Schon was an American philosopher and professor who is credited with the development of reflective practice. Dr. Schon’s work was based upon the work of John Dewey’s theory of inquiry. According to Dewey, inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. Thus, as Schon expanded upon inquiry, he discerned that reflective action occurs when an event is happening or after the event has concluded.

Though summative assessments are important and are a big part of the educational process (i.e. End-of-Grade, End-of-Course), in an effort to achieve desired results, an evaluation and reflection as the work is unfolding offers insight as to if one is on track or will not make the mark–whatever that desired mark may be. Dr. Schon even has a text that focuses on that very thing–reflection-in-action!