What do we mean when we talk about reflection in the teaching and learning process? Dr. Jennifer Moon provides a useful overview of reflection and a framework for the consideration of reflection in learning and professional development. In an easily read approach, Moon begins by providing an overview of the literature and research on reflection. Following the background, she synthesizes the previous material to develop a "map of learning and the representation of learning and the role of reflection." In the final chapters, Moon concludes with practical approaches to using reflection to enhance learning. As a staff developer at the University of Exeter, UK, Moon brings her expertise and experiences to a topic that is increasingly important to basic education, professional development and life-long learning.
In Part One of the book, Moon reviews the literature and primary authors on reflection. She has included key authors such as Dewey, Habermas, Van Manen, Barnett, Kolb, and Schön and their approaches to reflection. Some of the approaches are related to learning in indirect ways while others such as Schön are prominent in the development of professionals. One of the useful aspects of this book is the inclusion of multiple perspectives that have developed based on the early reflection literature. Moon uses perspectives from practitioners who have utilized some of the early work to better understand reflection in their settings.
Using the background developed in Part 1, Moon considers learning in Part 2 and the role of reflection in learning. Exploring learning and the way that reflection can be related to the fundamental processes involved in learning, she develops a "map" of learning that integrates reflection into stages of learning that result in an outcome she labels, BPR, best possible representation of learning. I found the visual representation of her conceptualization useful in helping me clarify how I envisioned reflection in learning.
In Part 3, the final part of the book, Moon ends with practical
techniques and applications that use reflection to enhance the
learning process. Two case studies are provided. One involves
short courses, an often-overlooked teaching event, and the other
involves the use of reflection in group decision-making. A chapter
in this section is used to describe the use of learning journals
to facilitate reflection. Of particular use to me was the list
of the different purposes of using writing journals, including
ideas such as;
The final part concludes with a compilation of other ways to learn through reflection including concept maps, other forms of drawing and poetry, critical incidents, review of learning materials such as summarizing material presented, and through assessment techniques.
Moon indicates that her aim in writing the book is to address the gap that exists between "an identification of the nature of reflection and the processes of learning." I believe that she has laid the groundwork to begin bridging the gap by summarizing the literature from the key players she has identified. The "map of learning" synthesizes her perspective and places boundaries around the concepts as she sees them and that is a good first step for the teacher interested in exploring the interconnections between reflection and learning.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to gain an understanding of the concepts of reflection and learning and how they might be related to each other. As a faculty developer, I found the work especially useful in providing resources to further my understanding of the different perspectives. Faculty who are interested in exploring the use of reflection in their classroom will find the later chapters useful, especially the chapter on the use of journals as a way of fostering reflective practice.
Faculty and faculty developers familiar with the literature on reflection and learning may not find the first part of the book as useful since it reviews the past literature and provides an understanding of the development of the author's model. However, I would recommend the exploration of the map of learning as one way to surfacing their assumptions about reflection and learning.
Donna W Bailey