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The Wicked Problem of Reflective Practice: A Critical Literature Review

Platt, LC (2014) The Wicked Problem of Reflective Practice: A Critical Literature Review. Innovations in Practice, 9. ISSN 1757-921X


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This paper tackles the ‘wicked problem’ of reflective practice. Reflection is encouraged by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) through Personal Development Planning (PDP) and is at the heart of many employability agendas. Yet, it has been identified as a higher-level skill which should not be forced as this can lead to inauthentic or ‘faked’ reflection. The paper questions, using recent literature, whether ‘good’ reflective practice can be embedded or indeed should be embedded. This is further complicated by differences in disciplinary contexts and generic institution-wide interventions. The employability agenda pursued by universities, the policies on PDP and developing reflective graduates, and the Key Performance Indicators are here in their current form for the moment and we must work within those when developing effective practice in teaching and learning. This literature review suggests that to focus too heavily on outcomes results in poor reflection, lack of engagement from students and low-confidence and apathy from staff. The review will include a brief case study of an institutional intervention relating to reflective practice and then conclude to suggest that reflective practice needs to be a process embedded within disciplines (specific to that discipline and not generic) rather than an isolated practice.

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