Reflexivity as a core capability in professional practice

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					Reflexivity as a core capability in professional practice
Jane Gamble Ruth Beltran Faculty of Health Sciences
EdHealth, Terrigal, November 2007

On completion of this unit students will be able to: • explain the concept of reflexivity • describe the philosophy and theory of reflexive practice • describe the components and continuum of reflexivity • apply various tools for reflexive practice • explain the concept of community of practice and its role in developing reflexive attributes • identify their communities of practice and their role within these • apply the principles and tools of reflexive practice in their learning.

MOT1: Reflexive Practice 1 Unit Objectives


• The question about whether individuals act independently or are acted upon (Osborne, 2001)
• Debate about agency as a struggle between two polarities of „individual‟ and „society

Students‟ reactions: Agency

In OT, the role of agency is important to understand – especially in terms of respecting a client‟s individualism…
Agency also poses the question of where responsibilities for action lies, eg Does the guilt of a child who fails a subject lie with the …lack of ability of the child, with the teaching style of the teacher, or the structure of the NSW education system?


…the debate surrounding agency is whether or not we have individual control over our world and life path or if we are merely the result of our social context
People can be agents as individuals or collectively. The key to being an effective agent is communication (…reflected as one of the components of the OT capability framework)



Mindfulness in the reflexive OT practice framework
• a quality of self-focused attention characterized by openness and acceptance of experience • includes the process of self-observation i.e., introspection, observing self, reflective functioning (Bishop, Lau, Shapiro et al, 2004) • the capacity to see relationships among thoughts, feelings, and actions and to understand the meanings and causes of experiences and behavior. • extends to encompass mindfulness of others and the environment (Beltran & Gamble)

Students‟ reactions: Mindfulness
• My ability to self observe and be aware of others is … related to my … background and experience. I am from an ethnic background and many of my experiences are shared and involve large groups. I have learnt to be conscious of my own perspective, especially recently due to fieldwork and my reflective diary. Paying attention to the minute details of my own mental activity is something I had not thought about too much I think that I can still improve in the area of mindfulness. I feel as though I need to be able to put myself in other people‟s shoes, even if I can‟t relate to them I am attempting to be mindful of others‟ personal experiences and histories and how that affects their actions and thought… Coming from a Filipino and Chinese background and then moving to a Western culture enables me to have different perspective into the way people approach things… This would definitely help with mindfulness and reflexivity. …. In summary, I have insight and awareness of my thoughts and why I act and think the way I do…The challenge would be being mindful of the self – what motivates me and why do I do or say what I do and say?

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Reflection & reflective practice
Reflection-in-action • Immediate, short-term, concerned with technical efficiency, restructuring a specific situation. Reflection-on-action • The practitioner clarifies, understands and interprets meanings, intentions, actions, through engaging the theoretical underpinnings of their practices and personal development. Reflection, development and empowerment … a step towards reflexivity • The reflective practitioner becomes empowered through reflective practice, ideological critique and „rational reconstruction‟ of possible courses of action in the future
Schon (1987); Boud, Keogh & Walker (1985); Morrison (1996)

Students reactions - reflection
• I am gradually being able to view the world from a client‟s perspective, why I think and act in certain situations. Personally I like to think and reflect before making decisions, weighing possibilities and outcomes. …I feel I learn a great deal from experience. I use a reflective diary to describe my feelings and actions whilst on fieldwork. I can then compare experiences to see what I‟ve leant, how I‟ve grown. I tend to overanalyze situations. One can say I over reflect and think about things from too many angles …it confuses me sometimes…. I find myself unable to perform the action that would be most sensible. Over reflection…inhibits my overall …. performance capacity. I ….spend a lot of time thinking, planning and reliving experiences through conversations with others and journaling.




• a discussion of its own position and cultural construction • systematic exploration of the unthought categories of thought • historicity and relativity • the practice of reflexively situating and historicizing the space of one’s point of view as a scholar and health professional


Students reactions - Reflexivity
• In terms of reflexivity I still have to be more aware of my experiences and how that affects my thoughts and feelings and also to remove that factor when dealing with people. … I would have to reconceptualise the situation, looking for other perspectives – especially that of my clients. …My challenge is to be objective and not let hearsay define my relationship with a person … On the other hand, if meeting a person for the first time with no preconceived ideas …I can be quite objective when listening to the person‟s histories.
…While saying something about the „real world” one is simultaneously disclosing something about oneself. It refuses to separate knowledge of things “out there” and knowledge of the self “in here” = inseparatability of the knower and known. It provides the basis for therapeutic judgements. I am the way that I am as a result of the way I have been bought up by my parents, the people that I associate with as well as the environment that I am exposed to. … My previous experiences have helped develop my ambitions and motivations. I understand and identify where I am at. I have limited experience in the field of OT and understand that this reflects in my practice.





I would like to gain a better understanding of reflexivity.

Action – from an occupational therapy
theoretical perspective (Hagedorn, 2000).

• An observable, intentional, goal-related piece of physical performance • The individual decides to „do‟ something; performance follows in a seamless flow. Actions are the „building blocks‟ of performance which can be re-assembled in infinitely variable patterns and sequences. • Each action needs coordinated use of skill components: sensory-motor, psychosocial, cognitive and perceptual.


• A system of shared social dispositions and cognitive structures. (Osborne, 2001, pp15-152)


a ‘durable, transposable system of definitions’ which is initially acquired by the child in the family and which reflects the patterns of behaviors or the cultural modes, both conscious and unconscious, through which family life is reproduced. Primary, secondary, tertiary habitus develop through different social institutions ‘a feel for the game’ or a practical sense of how to operate in any situation, which draws on the inherited patterns of behaviors, a kind of second sense ‘how people construct the world and are constructed by it’ (Kenway & McLeod (2004, p532)
The usefulness of the idea of habitus - concentrates on the importance of lived experience, on the everyday, while not losing sight of the fact that wider social structures are involved



Concept of Field
• Concept of ‘social field’ eg home, school, work • To each of the fields there corresponds a fundamental point of view of the world. • the viewpoint of the intellectual is a particular perspective, … an analytic disposition that is part of, formed in and by, the ‘collective unconscious’ of an academic field. This field structures modes and conventions of thinking within itself.
• The academic field includes accumulated practices and habits of thought of individual academics, but is not reducible to such individuals.


Community of Practice
• Definition: “a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis” Wenger, McDermontt, Snyder, 2002, p.4

Alignments: participatory approach to development of the conceptual framework
• Defining terms theoretically • Tutorial exercise: Where are you in the continuum of reflexivity? • Annotated bibliography assignment • Model refinement

Feedback about Assignment 2
“I have actually finished (the second assignment), and enjoyed writing it. Just some feedback about the unit for you while I'm here. It might have been good to have incorporated a mini presentation from each student about their 'final' reflexivity written assignment. That way, we would be able to listen to each other's perspectives of the model and its contents, and how they related that to their learning event, and why that learning event was challenging. This would have opened up more opportunity for applying reflective and reflexive ideas that we were trying to get our head around, and hence better understand their meaning through application, rather than from the rather heavy vocab that made it tricky to understand sociological/philosphical/theoretical concepts. This could replace the annotated bibliography, or be an extra assessment that would maybe be worth 20% and the written one 50%.... Just an idea!!”

Reflexive practice 1 & 2
• Preliminary findings • Job skills portfolio (incorporating practice guidelines for OTs) • Strengthen links between theory and clinical education experiences in second year of MOT


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Bishop, S., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., et al (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 11(3), 230-241 Boud,D., Keogh,R, & Walker,D. (1985). Reflection: Turning learning into experience. London: Kogan Page. Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools for practice in occupational therapy. London: Churchill Livingston. Kenway, J,& McLeod, J. (2004). Bourdieu‟s reflexive sociology and „spaces of points of view‟: whose reflexivity, which perspective? British Journal of Sociology of Education, 25 (4), 525-544. McLain, R. (2002). Reflexivity and the sociology of practice. Sociological practice: A Journal of Clinical and Applied Sociology. 4(4), 249-277. Morrison, K. (1996). Developing reflective practice in higher degree students through a learning journal. Studies in Higher Education. 21(3), 317-332. Osborne, R. (2001). Megawords: 200 terms you really need to know. Allen & Unwin Pels, D. (2000). Reflexivity: One step up. Theory, culture and society. 17 (3), pp1 – 25. Schon, D. (1987). The reflective practitioner. Wenger, E., McDermott, R. Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press.

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