critical reflection practice

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Critical reflection. What do we really mean?
Patricia Lucas
Auckland University of Technology (and PhD student Deakin University)
Do we really know what critical reflection means in the context of work-integrated learning, more specifically cooperative education? Critical reflection, in some form, is located within many higher education programmes, including cooperative education and many educators would say this is important for in-depth student learning. It is a form of reflection that is complicated as well as challenging for the learner and the educator. It would appear that there is a lack of consensus regarding the definition of critical reflection, as it is difficult to define and your definition may depend on your context
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Guidelines in the literature on how to determine, facilitate and assess critical reflection in practice appear to be limited (Leijen et al., 2011; Smith, 2011).

Models of critical reflection
This vast area in the literature, which explores models of critical reflection, lacks clarity. There seems to be similarities within and across the various applications from many fields or disciplines of education that may have little or no areas of overlap (Fook & Gardner 2007). Many models of reflection based on a philosophical approach, may be considered to assist students develop an understanding of critical reflection. These have been briefly outlined in table 1.0 to help visualize the relationship between the models and frameworks. The framework chosen to guide students’ reflections may be determined by the expectations of the learning outcomes. Some models of reflection may not encourage critical reflection. Models may guide the process of reflection but should not impose a prescription of what reflection is. It is not essential to follow a model and some practitioners choose not to. There is some criticism of models that reduce reflection to levels but this approach maybe useful for teaching what the focus of reflection entails. The student may choose whether or not to adopt a model to frame their reflection as a temporary measure until confidence in the reflective activity is gained and understood.
Table 1.0: Three models of critical reflection
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