Pre-service secondary science teachers' use of reflective practice as a way of knowing

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Teaching is a practice-based profession requiring student teachers to develop the ability to reflect upon school experience. The way student teachers make sense of these experiences is problematic despite forming an important aspect of students' practice-based learning (Gillies, 2016). Students often struggle to enact meaningful reflection due to the lack of a working model; insufficient understanding of the nature of reflection; or a lack of clarity regarding the depth of reflection required to facilitate improvements in practice. This study aims to explore how student teachers develop their reflective practice during their initial teacher education. A purposive sample of fourteen pre-service secondary science teachers studying for a PGDE within one University agreed to participate in the research. A sample of nine fully evaluated lesson plans were taken from each participant (3 from each teaching placements). Each lesson plans was analysed using Gillies' (2016) themes of Self, Others and Literature as an analytical framework. Analysis indicates that students' reflections tend to be poor quality, highly descriptive in terms of content and context and indicated a general lack of focus in terms of the purpose of the reflections. Nine of the fourteen students struggled to generate sufficient depth within their reflections to make any quality judgements about pupils learning or their developing pedagogical practice. Most reflections focus on managing pupil behaviour rather than on the learning process or identifying next steps for their practice. In terms of the themes of self, others and literature, all students managed to reflect to varying degrees, upon advice given by mentors and other teachers and indicated some awareness of the need to read policy and curriculum based literature. However, none of the students drew on wider professional reading or related learning theories within the reflections. These findings indicate that more explicit teaching on, and examples of, how to reflect on practice are required to support students in terms of professional reflection. The ability to draw on wider professional reading is an important aspect of professional reflection that needs to be taught in a more measured way within the PGDE Science programme.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • reflective practice
  • knowing
  • initial teacher education
  • pre-service science teachers


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