Creating a "new pedagogy" for reflection in reading education
Dechert, Debra Ann
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The purpose in this study was to learn more about how beginning literacy teachers, as clinicians, integrated reflective thinking into their literacy practices while teaching a struggling reader to improve in his reading ability and to learn more about the factors that contributed to their ability to make adjustments in their instructional decision-making during this process. In addition, I wanted to know what characterized the nature of their reflective thinking when they attempted to negotiate the complexities and problematic issues of teaching their student to improve in his reading abilities. I was particularly interested in a clinical practicum where beginning literacy teachers, recognizing the effects reflection had upon decision-making, sought to engage in reflective thinking in order to improve the effectiveness of their decision-making. Finally, I was hopeful that I would be able to infer some principles from the results of my investigation that could shape teaching and learning in other beginning literacy teacher contexts. To these ends, this study was guided by two research questions: (1) What factors contribute to the development of reflection that enhance beginning literacy teachers' (clinicians') ability to make adjustments in their instructional decision-making as they teach a struggling reader? (2) What characterizes the nature of the clinicians' cognitive strategies for reflective thinking when they attempt to negotiate the complexities and problematic issues of teaching their student to improve in his reading abilities? Assuming the researcher role of active participant in this study, multiple data sources (i.e., descriptive and reflective field notes, introspective recall sessions, interviews, and documents including lesson plans, DVDs of lessons, written reflections) were collected across the 15-week semester of the clinical practicum. Taken together, data analysis and interpretation were an ongoing and recursive process that began in the field and continued after data collection ended. While the majority of analysis during data collection was directed toward the goal of bringing insight and focus to the way in which I approached the collection of data, it was at this time that I also began to interpret the findings as they emerged from the data. In addition, the data were analyzed through the constant comparative method, which involved close reading, inductive reasoning, and categorical aggregation of emerging patterns and themes. Findings from the data suggest that a major contributing factor in the beginning literacy teachers' ability to use reflection came from the way in which their ability for reflective thinking was mediated across several different sites during their clinical practicum in reading--that is, mediation occurred as peer-assisted learning, cognitive apprenticeship, and self-assisted learning. Furthermore, as a result of these extensive opportunities for mediated learning, their reflective thinking, as characterized by the strategies they used to make sense of novel information and insights gained during their reflective activities (e.g., debriefing, observations of instruction on DVD, writing reflections and self-questioning) became increasingly more complex and enabled them to approach their instructional decision-making from a stance that was more flexible, adaptive, and responsive to their student's unique needs in learning to become a more proficient reader.