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Scaffolding enables reflective thinking to become a disposition.

For experienced teachers and teacher educators, reflective thinking has become "second nature," an automatic response or a disposition (Katz, 1993). Teacher educators are searching for ways to facilitate the development of reflective thinking with teacher candidates. In our programs we begin to draw the teacher candidates' attention to thoughts of an "on action" type of reflection (Schon, 1983). Dewey's (1933) view of intellectualization of the activity becomes our "mantra." In essence, we are implementing the instructional technique of scaffolding to help teacher candidates think reflectively about their own performance, encouraging them to respond to prompts of their own teaching in view of what specific characteristics and concepts represent effective teaching practices.

The university instructor may "think aloud," or model the process of reflective thinking and writing in regard to the class session's topics or activities. These "think alouds" offer both opportunities for the opening and closing of class sessions, with the instructor reflecting on what concepts were covered effectively or ineffectively, and an overview of the next class session's material or activity. Following these "think alouds" the teacher candidates are asked to independently reflect upon the class sessions and what they observed, and then make their recommendations to the instructor.

During field experiences, teacher candidates are encouraged to begin reflective thinking, intellectualizing their own experiences, often connecting those to their knowledge base. This process is begun by using a structured reflective log. This log is submitted to the instructor for review. Also, it may serve as a discussion starter for small cooperative groups or with the whole group in the university classroom. Throughout this process, teacher candidates are involved in dialogue about their reflection. The result is that teacher candidates begin to use reflections as a learning tool, making connections to the course information and developing the ability to critically think and discuss effective teaching. Teacher candidates become more aware of their ability to make appropriate instructional decisions, and reflective thinking becomes more automatic.

Thus, reflection becomes a disposition. Reflection becomes second nature, or an automatic exercise that has a purpose. It has a reason, helping one to formulate a course of action or a solution to improve the situation or one's teaching. And it becomes a skill to use during teaching, "in action," or after teaching, "on action" (Schon, 1983).

Using the strategy of scaffolding reflective thinking with teacher candidates appears to be a logical way of developing this as a skill and disposition. It needs to be modeled, nurtured, and taught in the university classroom.


Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: DC Heath.

Katz. L. (1993). Dispositions as educational goals. ERIC Digest. ED363454.

Schon, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: HarperCollins.

--Cynthia L. Gordinier, Deborah A. Moberly, and Kathleen Conway, Professional Standards/ Teacher Education Committee
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Title Annotation:Teacher Education
Author:Conway, Kathleen
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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