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Learning to Reflect: Teachers' Mastery and Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reflective Practice

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Authors conceptualize the notion of reflection as a higher psychological function from the perspective of cultural–historical psychology of Lev Vygotsky and discuss the development of teachers' reflective practice in the process of mastering and creating mediational means of reflective practice. In the current research literature the terms mediational means and psychological tools are often used interchangeably. On the grounds of the findings from the studies of teachers' reflection, conducted in Ireland, United States, and Russia, the authors distinguish mediational means from psychological tools, discuss their heterogeneity, and explore how the choice of mediational means transforms the process of reflective practice. Authors argue that teachers need to be educated to master meditational means of reflection to build their reflective practice and develop reflection as a higher psychological function.
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Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology
Volume 17, Number 3, 2018
Learning to Reect: Teachers’ Mastery and
Development of Mediational Means and
Psychological Tools of Reective Practice
Elina Lampert-Shepel
Graduate School of Education, Touro College, New York, New York
Colette Murphy
School of Education, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Authors
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conceptualize the notion of reection as a higher psychological function from
the perspective of cultural–historical psychology of Lev Vygotsky and discuss the
development of teachers’ reective practice in the process of mastering and creating
mediational means of reective practice. In the current research literature the terms
mediational means and psychological tools are often used interchangeably. On the
grounds of the ndings from the studies of teachers’ reection, conducted in Ireland,
United States, and Russia, the authors distinguish mediational means from psycho-
logical tools, discuss their heterogeneity, and explore how the choice of mediational
means transforms the process of reective practice. Authors argue that teachers need
to be educated to master meditational means of reection to build their reective prac-
tice and develop reection as a higher psychological function.
Keywords: reective
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action; higher psychological function; mediational means;
psychological tools; coteaching
Increasingly
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, teachers and the knowledge they glean from daily work with children are
seen as the proper focus of professional development and reform. Teacher education, both
in-service and preservice, now incorporates educating teachers in critical examination of
their practice (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2016; National Council for
Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2010), resolution of inconsistencies in their school culture,
self-reection, and building their own understandings into theories.
“Teacher-proof” scripted curricula, however, and related reforms centered on testing, now
often focus teacher reection on ecient technical implementation rather than on inquiry
and meaning-making. Most often, reection is thus deemed an isolated technical skill (Giroux
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,
1985; Homan-Kipp, Artiles, & Lopez-Torres, 2003; Lindsay & Mason, 2000). More than ever,
the craft of teaching requires the acceptance of ambiguity, and engagement in active meaning-
making. In the context of growing diversity, moral uncertainty, conicting intellectual demandsPdf_Folio:278
278 © 2018 International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology
http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1945-8959.17.3.278
Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 279
and views on teaching and learning, teachers’ reection as a mere ability to implement the
prepackaged curriculum is insucient to support meaningful educational practice. Also, for
teachers engaged in reective practice as self-emancipation and inquiry (Freire, 1997) it sup-
ports their ability to facilitate students’ classroom inquiry.
e
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cultural–historical psychology of Vygotsky both underpins meaning-making by concep-
tualizing reective action and practice, and inquiry into teaching and learning leading the devel-
opment of teachers themselves, and their students. Conceptualization of reective practice as a
tool-mediated activity for teachers to develop reection as a higher psychological function, per-
mits designing teacher education programs and activities leading to teachers’ development as
learners and researchers of their practice.
In
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this article, we aim to conceptualize the notion of reection from the perspective of
the cultural–historical psychology of Lev Vygotsky, to explore the mastery and development of
mediational means of teachers’ reective practice based on the ndings of two research stud-
ies conducted in Dublin, Ireland and New York, United States/ Moscow, Russia; document the
heterogeneity of mediational means of reective practice, and explore their potential for their
transformation into teacher’s psychological tools of reection.
While
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the studies were conducted in dierent socio-cultural contexts and cultures, their
ndings show similar processes in the development of teachers’ reection as a higher psycholog-
ical function. In the rst study, reective practice was explored amid teachers’ actions. Although
teacher’s reection was in the core of school cultures, teachers received no professional develop-
ment on reective practice or using various mediational means of reection in either Manhattan
Country School (MCS, New York) or School of Self-Determination (SSD, Moscow, Russia). In
the second study, teachers were educated in various mediational means of reection that were
reported to signicantly improve the reective process, and transform spontaneous reection
into reection as a higher psychological function.
REFLECTION
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I0015
AS A HIGHER PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTION
e
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notion of reection employed in the studies discussed in this article stems from the cultural–
historical psychology of Lev Vygotsky and the followers of his scholarship. Cultural–historical
psychology provides a theoretical approach to conceptualize reection in the context of teachers’
development as agents of their own practice that is viewed as their professional learning activ-
ity. e studies discussed in this article consider reection as a higher psychological function
(Vygotsky, 1982). Such reection develops in the course of dialectical, socially constructed, and
culturally mediated actions of meaning-making, through the continuous exploration of experi-
ence by the agent of the action.
Reection
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as a higher psychological function (Vygotsky, 1998) is socially constructed in
the course of culturally mediated human activities (Vygotsky, 1982). Reection is socially con-
structed, because it is rst developed in the form of shared cognition among the community of
learners and then transformed through the process of internalization into individual conscious-
ness (Vygotsky, 1982; Wertsch, 1985, 1998). Reective practice, like any other human activity,
is mediated by cultural tools (Vygotsky, 1982; Zinchenko, 1985).
Reection
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is a human ability of the agent of the action to be self-conscious. It is the ability
to regard oneself or one’s own action as the other, as the subject of purposeful change. It is
metacognitive since it requires thinking about thinking. us, reection is manifest through
our cognition and practice, developed in the course of specic sociocultural interactions, and
inuenced by our attitudes and moral values.
Pdf_Folio:279
280 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
is
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view of reection as a higher psychological function, helps teacher educators and
researchers to theorize reective practice as a learning activity leading toward teachers’ devel-
opment as agents of their own practice. Several foundational ideas of Lev Vygotsky’s theory of
development of higher psychological functions ground our conceptualizations of reection as a
higher psychological function.
Lower and Higher Psychological Functions
e
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most fundamental qualitative shift in human development, as Vygotsky identied it, is from
lower, elementary processes to higher, conscious ones. is shift is a transition from “direct,
innate, natural forms and methods of behavior to mediated, articial, mental (psychological –
ELS) functions that develop in the process of cultural development” (Vygotsky, 1998, p.168).
ere is a dierence not only in the nature, but also in the origin of higher and lower psycho-
logical functions. Lower, elementary psychological functions are biological, natural, immediate
responses to stimuli. By contrast, higher psychological functions are conscious, intentional, and
purposeful psychological processes that are developed socioculturally.
Development of Higher Psychological Functions as the Foundation for the
Development of Agency
Vygotsky
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(1998) considered the development of higher psychological functions to be a key pro-
cess for the development of agency.1ese are the processes in human consciousness that lead
to human freedom from contextual constraints. By acquiring higher psychological functions,
human behavior can transform from reaction to the environment to intentional action toward
it, so people act via their own will. In other words, higher psychological functions are voluntary
and volitional as the person manages, “establishes control,” not over the environment but over
internal psychological processes of memory, attention, thinking, and emotion.
e
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development of higher psychological functions is the foundation for the development
of agency. It is a dialectical relationship since agency develops as the result of the develop-
ment of higher psychological functions. at is because they ensure voluntary action, the free
action of a self-determining agent. Simultaneously, every act of volition leads to the restructur-
ing of the system of psychological functions, as the new level of mastery and voluntary behavior
of an agent.
Agency
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for Vygotsky is not a state, but a process, that is dynamic, dramatic, and spe-
cic unity of aect and intellect for each individual. It stems from personal sense, and the
unique combination of motivational, volitional, and emotional processes that dene the
dynamics of thought and action. erefore, the process of the development of higher psy-
chological functions is not universal, but specic for personal development. e historically
developing systems of psychological functions play out dierently in each individual con-
sciousness. “ . . . [I]f a person is thinking, let’s ask which person . . . with the same laws
of thinking . . . the process will be dierent depending on inside which person it occurs”
(Vygotsky, 1986, p. 59).
ere
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is a dialectical relationship between development of agency and development of higher
psychological functions. Agency develops as the result of the development of higher psychologi-
cal functions because the more developed the higher psychological functions are, the higher the
possibility of a voluntary action, as a free action of a self-determining subject.
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 281
Higher Psychological Functions as Psychological Systems
Much
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confusion may arise from the discussion of higher psychological functions as indepen-
dent, isolated processes in human consciousness, such as separating imagination out from its
connection to emotion, and separating reection from will and theoretical thinking. Considera-
tion of higher psychological functions as isolated processes out of the context of their develop-
ment within a system, leads to the reductionist view of them as elementary functions. Vygotsky
(1982) introduces the notion of a psychological function as a system of relationships that has
its unique history, stressing the importance of examining it as a whole:
e
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concept of a system and a function [italicized by ELS] is obviously completely dierent
from the concept of an arithmetic sum and mechanistic chain of reactions. It implies the
specic consistent pattern of building the system, the specic role of a system as it is, and,
nally, the history of development and creation of the system . . . It applies also to the
concept of a psychological function . . . , rst of all as the relationship to the whole, it is
the relationship in the in the context of which the individual function is being performed,
and secondly, as an understanding of the wholeness of that psychological process that is
called function. (Vygotsky, 1983, p. 110) [Translated by ELS]
Vygotsky
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(1998) stresses the importance of understanding the development of higher psy-
chological functions as a qualitative shift, a transformation rather than an accumulation:
Higher
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mental functions are not simply a continuation of elementary functions and are
not their mechanical combination, but a qualitatively new mental formation that devel-
ops according to completely special laws and is subject to completely dierent patterns.
(p. 34)
Vygotsky
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(1999) argued that in the process of human development not only are separate
functions reconstructed, but interfunctional relations and connections among those functions
change radically.
As
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a result, new psychological systems arise that unite in complex cooperation a number
of separate elementary functions. We arbitrarily call these psychological systems, these
units of a higher order that replace the homogeneous, single, elementary functions, the
higher mental functions.2(p. 61)
us
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, a higher psychological function is a psychological system for Vygotsky that is dened
by the unique conguration of interrelationships among elementary functions, “heterogeneous
in composition” and historically changing in the process of ontogenesis. Such a psychological
system is a complex combination of symbolic and practical activity.
Higher Psychological Functions As a Product of Historical Development
Vygotsky
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stressed in a number of his works the importance of history in building the theory
of development. To understand the development of higher psychological functions we need to
consider them in the course of their development, capturing the history of transformations
Pdf_Folio:281
282 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
of lower, naturally unfolding psychological functions into higher, tool-mediated ones. us, to
study the development of reection as a higher psychological function, we need to focus on
the history of its development from the lower function to its more developed state as a higher
psychological function, from elementary and single function to a complex system of interrelated
functions.
Social Nature of Higher Psychological Functions
Vygotsky
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(1993) challenged the belief that human mind exists independently of our sociocul-
tural practices and the history of their development. Moreover, for him the human mind was
among people, rather than in their individual heads. He argued that the development of higher
psychological functions entails transformation of collective social forms of behavior into per-
sonal higher psychological functions that have a history of being socially constructed.
. . . the relation between higher mental functions was at one time a concrete relation
among people; collective social forms of behavior in the process of development become
a method of individual adaptations and forms of behavior and thinking of the agent.
(Vygotsky
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, 1998, p. 168)
Vygotsky
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theorized the transformation of interpsychological processes into intrapsycholog-
ical ones. His great discovery was the description of the dialectical transformation of collectively
distributed cognition3(Rogo, 1998) into individual consciousness. In other words, he basi-
cally described the psychological mechanism of qualitative transformation of the social into the
individual consciousness, and argued for their interdependence in the process of development.
Vygotsky called this transformation the process of internalization mediated by cultural tools.
He claimed that the social origins of individual higher psychological functions rst appear exter-
nally, in a situation of socially shared cognition, and then on an internal plane, as individual
psychological functioning. Vygotsky (1982) called this process a general genetic law of cultural
development:
Any
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function in the child’s cultural development appears twice, or on two planes. First
it appears on the social plane, and then on the psychological plane. First it appears
between people as an inter-psychological category, and then within the child as an intra-
psychological category. is is equally true with regard to voluntary attention, logical
memory, the formation of concepts, and the development of volition. We may consider
this position as a law in the full sense of this word, but it goes without saying that inter-
nalization transforms the process itself and changes its structure and functions. Social
relations or relations among people, genetically underlie all higher functions and their
relationships. (cited in Wertsch, 1985, p. 61)
Vygotsky
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’s understanding of internalization as a dialectical relationship between interpsycho-
logical and intrapsychological, external and internal planes of higher psychological functioning
is one of the central ideas of his psychological work. erefore, the development of an individ-
ual teacher’s reection will depend to a large extent on the character of the interpsychological
activity.
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 283
Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reection
Vygotsky
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(1982) argued that human action is always mediated. Every mediated action, however,
does not necessarily lead to the development of higher psychological function. Vygotsky distin-
guished mediational means (Wertsch, 1998) from psychological tools. Mediational means, being
external, can resemble actions of the human hand. Via mediational means we can alter exter-
nal objects or processes. Psychological tools, though, are internal “instruments.” ey support
psychological activity, just as manual labor uses tools. Psychological tools, Vygotsky claimed,
support a mastery of oneself—an internal mastery.
To
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study teachers’ reection as a higher psychological function, we need to explore the tool
kit of mediational means and psychological tools of reection. e authors of this article explore
the mastery of the presented mediational means of reection they use, and psychological tools
teachers develop in the process of reective practice.
is
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line of argument can apply to conceptualization of reection as a higher psychological
function and an important condition for the development of self-consciousness. Like any other
higher psychological function, reection is systemic, historically developing, culturally medi-
ated, and socially constructed. Reection may also serve as a metacognitive activity of meaning-
making, since it entails thinking about thinking through the agent of the action continuously
exploring of the experience.
Cultural
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. Reective action is mediated by such cultural tools as narrative, metaphor,
schema, narrative, and role-play/performance (Lampert-Shepel, 2006). ese tools are
culturally specic and have their limitations and benets. Teachers need to be educated
to internalize and use them purposefully, depending on the type of reective action they
join.
Systemic
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. Higher psychological functions are psychological systems. Reection as a higher
psychological function develops in the system of dynamically changing relationships with
other elementary and higher psychological functions. erefore, development of reec-
tion is tightly connected with the development of imagination, language and speech, anal-
ysis, theoretical thinking, and emotion.
Historical
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. Higher psychological functions are a product of historical development.
Social
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. Higher psychological functions are acquired in the process of social interaction.
For reection to develop as a higher psychological function, teachers must participate in
various interactions and collaborations enabling a move from the inter- to the intrapsy-
chological.
Mediated
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. Higher psychological functions are mediated by psychological tools, tools of
the mind that mediate one’s own cognitive or emotional processes. e purposeful use of
the psychological tools leads to the development of higher psychological functions, and
thereby to the mastery of one’s own behavior.
REFLECTIVE
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I0050
ACTION AS A UNIT OF ANALYSIS
Within
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the Vygotskian theoretical framework and research methodology to study the develop-
ment of a higher psychological function, one must dene the unit of analysis. For both studies
discussed in this article, reective action is such a unit of analysis. It helped capture the process
Pdf_Folio:283
284 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
of reective practice in American and Russian Dewey schools, while in the study of the develop-
ment of reective practice through coteaching, the model of reective action was introduced to
teachers as a mediational means of reection.
Vygotsky
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(1987) held that the study of higher psychological functions in human develop-
ment was “the study of the complex whole” (p. 47). He distinguished between element and unit
analysis, arguing that only unit of analysis allows the study of a complex phenomenon in its
development. In element analysis, it is key to know multiple elements and their specic features.
In unit analysis, by contrast, one must nd the basic concept, or so-called “germ cell,” and follow
its development within a system of concepts.
Zinchenko
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(1985) stresses the unit’s capacity for development. e unit must have inherent
properties that enable its transformation. Wertsch (1998) suggests that a mediated action or
“agent-acting-with-mediational-means” (Wertsch, Tulviste, & Hagstrom, 1993) is a suitable unit
of analysis to study the mind. us, we suggest that such unit of analysis of reection as a higher
psychological function is reective action.
Reection
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is inseparable part of human action and should be studied in its midst. Figure 1
is the graphic representation of the cycle of reective action as a unit of analysis. e model
includes two dimensions of reective action: the rst one (real) describes the sequence of actions
teachers perform in practice, the second one (ideal) presents the corresponding psychological
functions that accompany practical actions. As we learned from teachers, the cycle of reective
action start from the experience of diculty in practice. John Dewey called it a situation of
perplexity; in the theory of learning activity this situation is referred to as a developmental
gap. In such a situation, the agent of action can’t continue it, and experiences a need to either
try again, or stop and think why the action can’t continue. If the second option is chosen, it
characterizes the A1 action, that is„ the beginning of the reective action on the model. e cycle
of reective action may start from the teacher asking herself why she can’t perform the practical
FIGURE 1. Reective
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action as a unit of analysis.
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 285
action (A2). e next step (A3) involves analysis of the experienced diculty and choosing the
mediational means; analysis allows teachers to grasp the performed action as a whole in context.
e step of analysis is necessary to move to modeling of the future practical action (A4), planning
(A5) of how to implement the new model of action in practice, and testing the new model of
action in practice (A6). is unit of analysis of reective action represents the steps of only one
cycle of reective action. Each step described is not predetermined and multiple variations of
the model can be observed in practice. However, to capture the development of reection as a
higher psychological function, there was a need to develop a model that can allow to capture
reection in the midst of its development and complexity.
Teachers
ID:p0285
who participated in the study described various situations that can lead to the
beginning of reective action. Reective action may originate from unresolved classroom situ-
ation, student’s behavior or learning diculties, communication with parents, interaction with
colleagues, and so forth. e important aspect of each of these star ting points of reective action
is teacher’s puzzlement, experienced diculty that is strong enough for the agent of the action
to break trial and error and start reective action. e experience of the developmental gap [\/]
helps teachers to grasp the situation as a whole and question the grounds of their actions, and,
therefore, become the agents of their practice, build the continuity of learning experiences for
all, create their praxis.
e
ID:p0290
transition from the real to ideal4plane of action is necessary for the reection’s beginning;
the next steps are its process. In the ideal plane, specic cultural tools that mediate the reective
action. ese symbolic psychological tools are culturally specic and may be conceptual mod-
els, metaphors, images, drawings, narratives, or other symbolic systems. e cycle of reective
action leads to the development of reection as a higher psychological function as teachers mas-
ter the mediational means of reection as well as analysis, modeling, and planning of their pro-
fessional actions. e cycle of the reective action has a transformational potential as teachers
develop reection as a higher psychological function and, therefore, speaking Vygotskian lan-
guage, master their own behavior, that is, become agents of their own practice. Teachers from
both schools spoke about this transformation deriving from reective action:
Teacher
ID:p0295
3 (SSD): When the understanding of your teacher’s self is growing inside you, when
this awareness is being claried for you, the work in this school is eternal joy (Interview 1, p. 4).
Teacher
ID:p0300
2 (MCS): ere is no meaningful experience without reection on it. You suddenly see
the situation as a whole and then can look for ways to transform it (Interview 1, p. 16).
In
ID:p0305
the second part of this article, we will discuss the ndings of two studies that explored
various aspects of the development of teachers’ reection as a higher psychological function:
a qualitative case study of Russian and American teachers’ reective practice in Dewey schools
(New York, United States; Moscow, Russia) and a multimethod ethnographic study of in-service
coteachers’ reective practice (Dublin, Ireland). Although the studies include multiple ndings,
for the purpose of this article we will limit the discussion to the sign-mediated reective actions
that contributed to the development of teachers’ reection as a higher psychological function
and to the mediational means and psychological tools teachers used to reect on their practice.
A
ID:P0310
CROSS-CULTURAL STUDY OF TEACHERS’ REFLECTIVE ACTIONS IN TWO
RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN DEWEY SCHOOLS
Introduction and Background
is
ID:p0315
cross-cultural qualitative study was conducted in Russian and American Dewey (Tanner,
1997) schools. e purpose of the study was to examine, document, and compare the variety
of issues that constitute the content of teachers’ reective practice; the processes of teachers’
Pdf_Folio:285
286 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
reective actions; and the mediational means employed in teachers’ reective actions. e study
was conducted in an American and a Russian schools that were identied through a survey as
Dewey schools. Teachers’ reective actions were studied in the midst of their practice and the
data captured the use of mediational means and their occasional transformation into psycholog-
ical tools in teachers’ classrooms. Besides the requirement in both schools for teachers to build
their classroom practice based on their ongoing reection, no additional professional develop-
ment was oered to teachers to learn how to reect.
Methodology
is
ID:p0320
study’s overall research design combined multiple-case-study design with cultural–
historical research methodology. e model of reective action (Lampert-Shepel, 2008) served
as unit of analysis of teachers’ processes of reection. Researcher thus captured the process of
reective action in its development and identied the mediational means of reection teachers
used individually, with their coteacher, and in small groups.
is
ID:p0325
multicase qualitative study was conducted in two schools: the MCS (New York) and
the SSD (Moscow). It was important to choose the schools that valued reective practice and
supported teachers’ daily reection. With the use of the survey constructed on the previous
research that determined the features of John Dewey schools, it was possible to identify both
schools sharing the same school culture of Dewey Schools that rely on emergent curriculum and
teacher’ decision making. As it was determined that schools have similar school culture made it
possible to compare teachers’ reective actions cross-culturally. Data collection included a com-
bination of participant observations, videotaping of sta meetings, interviewing, and review of
documents. Two foci of observations—group reection and classroom teaching—provided the
essential information necessary for the three semistructured interviews with each of the six
teachers (three teachers per school). ree semistructured interviews were conducted with each
of six teachers. Data analysis included triangulation of data collected from observations, docu-
ments, group reection, and three individual interviews for each teacher, three teachers in each
school, and then cross-culturally.
e
ID:p0330
six case studies were analyzed rst within the same culture and then cross-culturally. e
grounded theory qualitative analysis case comparison was conducted cross-culturally against
predened categories of content, process, and mediational means of reection. For the purpose
of this publication, we will mainly focus on the ndings related to mediational means of reec-
tive action. Although the purpose of this study did not include focus on distinguishing medita-
tional means and psychological tools of reection, the dierence was captured at the stage of
data analysis.
In
ID:p0335
both studies we refer to meditational means as those that mediate the reective action
and are used spontaneously and psychological tools as those that teachers use intentionally to
shape the process of reection.
Findings
Teachers
ID:p0340
’ reective practice in both schools was socially constructed in the course of social
interactions, and culturally mediated with an array of mediational means of reection.
e participating teachers employed the following mediational means: (a) reective dialog,
(b) text/narrative/story, (c) schema/plan-book/note-pad, (d) inquiry/observation/example,
(e) performance/creative activity, and (f) metaphor. Teachers were not aware of their choice of
mediational means of reection. ey mainly used one or two without awareness of how the
Pdf_Folio:286
Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 287
mediational means of reection can limit or benet the process of reection. During the inter-
views, teachers became aware of how the mediational means of reection can inuence the con-
tent and process of reective action. Below are the examples of teachers’ using metaphors and
text/narrative as mediational means, and transforming them into psychological tools of reec-
tion. e purposeful, intentional use of metaphor or text to shape the process of reection is the
evidence that teachers master their own process of reective thought and, therefore, develop
reection as a higher psychological function.
Metaphors as Mediational Means and Psychological Tools
e
ID:p0345
study participants used metaphors to explain their reective process. ey found metaphors
helpful to reect on the meaning of reection. Teachers believed that metaphor allows searching
for the meaning without strictly dening it and capturing the new idea for the future clarica-
tion. Below are some examples of how teachers’ making sense of their reection itself mediated
by metaphor or image:
Teacher
ID:p0350
1 (MCS, New York): . . . the image that formed in my mind when thinking of this
process [reection] is that of a number of people holding up a exible mirror in front of me,
twisting the reection so that my experience can be seen with a new potential for change . . .
Teacher
ID:p0355
2 (SSD, Moscow): Reection is a brush of the archeologist with the help of which
he manages to remove the dust of time from the discovered object to reveal the meanings con-
cealed by many occasional happenings. Reection is a thinking tool of discovering the essential
meanings of your teaching and meaningful connections with the other people and events. . . .It
may change over time, so it should be an ongoing process . . . .
Teacher
ID:p0360
3 (MCS, New York):Reection is similar to children’s carbon paper, . . . transfers . . .
when one has to gently remove the obvious to reveal the important ideas, objectify your practice.
If you are not skillful, the image is ruined and has no meaning, and then you are in crisis and
have to overcome yourself . . . and to start again . . . and again.
Teacher
ID:p0365
4 (SSD, Moscow): One image I always have on my mind is that of life as a river, then
reection is like looking at this river from the bank of the river, or jumping above. I see reection
. . . and I observe it with children too . . . I will jump from the river, make a picture, a quick shot,
and jump back (laughs).
Elina
ID:p0370
:And when you “jump back,” are you the same?
Teacher
ID:p0375
4 (SSD, Moscow): I do not know . . . Maybe I am the same, but the river is changing.
Well, you see that the complex nature of the metaphor, when it leads your thinking . . . you see,
in this metaphor it would be dicult for me to reect on the changes . . . what changes in the
river . . . It should be a dierent metaphor. is metaphor is helpful to realize that I leave the
practice to reect on it and that it is kind of “uneven,” “jumpy” process.
Metaphor
ID:p0380
as a mediational means arises out of interactions between the conceptual struc-
tures that lie beneath the level of words. In the work of Lako and Johnson (1980), metaphor
is described as a cognitive device that establishes perspectives that form the irreducible fabric
of thought and expression.
Metaphor
ID:p0385
is a condition for construction of meaning in communication that is oriented
toward understanding. e potential of metaphor as a mediational means is in its capability of
systematically extending, changing, exhausting, decontextualizing, and historicizing the pro-
cess of reective action. Metaphor leads the process of teachers’ reection, letting them discover
new meanings for the object of reective thought. In all the examples, when teachers created
Pdf_Folio:287
288 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
metaphors of reection, the initial metaphor led to the exploration of other meanings included
in the image. Metaphor as a mediational means is a dynamic cognitive tool that leads reective
thought to the exploration of new meanings.
As
ID:p0390
with every mediational means, metaphor has its potential and limitations. Both Ameri-
can and Russian teachers used metaphor as a mediational means and psychological tool of reec-
tion. As a mediational means, teachers used metaphors spontaneously in a dialog with others
trying to communicate a new understanding or grasp the general meaning of the event in their
teaching. However, MCS teachers, when asked to reect on the video of a project-based teach-
ing and learning similar to their own practice and given no direction on how to structure the
discussion, chose metaphor purposefully as a starter of their conversation to reect on a most
important idea of the video.
Teacher
ID:p0395
3: . . . I have a suggestion . . . Before we start discussion of the project Post-Oce we
have just seen . . . And we do it in our school as well, right? . . .Can we start with image or
metaphor as we did when reected on the way we reect? It may help to get some big ideas we
may lose in the future discussion.
In
ID:p0400
this case image or metaphor was chosen deliberately, to capture multiple ideas as a psycho-
logical tool, as it managed the future individual and group reection and, therefore, has become
a purposefully used tool of the mind.
Metaphor
ID:p0405
as a mediational means can be quite eective in the process of conceptualization
of previously identied ideas and values, for example, for creating and questioning one’s teach-
ing philosophy. It is also eective when teachers want to question an initial conceptualization
of practice, or when emotional responses to the situation in practice prevail. It seems to be a
less eective mediational means when teachers need to construct initial meanings in practice,
or when a detailed objectication of the course of events in the classroom is important.
Text/Narrative as a Mediational Means and Psychological Tool of Reection
e
ID:p0410
act of writing text is often reective; Yuriy Lotman argued that text acts as a “thinking
device” and “a generator of meaning” (Wells, 2000, p. 77). Although all six teachers admitted that
reection on their practice through writing was challenging for them, they referred to various
forms of writing as important mediational means. ey identied dierent purposes for writ-
ing texts. For some of them, texts became the mediational means to become aware of important
aspects of their practice (Teacher 4, SSD; Teacher 3, MCS) and to construct meanings while gen-
eralizing tendencies (Teacher, 5, SSD; Teacher 1, MCS). In addition, as MCS and SSD teachers
created original and complex practices of schooling, texts were not only the mediational means
of reective action to conceptualize their practice, but also to communicate it to other teachers.
For SSD teachers writing texts, creating stories of their practice mediated their dialog about the
philosophy and design of their elementary school. In addition, a story about teaching practice
becomes a “safe” mediator to discuss individual practice among the colleagues. As SSD teachers
were challenged by school administration to nd ways of learning from each other by going to
each other’s classrooms, they admitted that reading teachers’ texts about their practice was a
helpful rst step before they came to the classroom.5
Teachers
ID:p0415
identied texts as helpful mediational means to conceptualize their teaching phi-
losophy and construct the general image of their practice; still texts might be questioned
as a means to mediate reection on an emerging diculty, not yet identied. For example,
Teacher 4, SSD, questioned text as a helpful mediational means to reect on an experienced
Pdf_Folio:288
Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 289
diculty in the classroom. She argued that instead of helping to capture the reality of the class-
room, texts created a new reality that could be very dierent from the problem experienced in
practice. However, she nds writing “psychological portraits of children” helpful mediational
means to reect on her practice. us, the purpose of reective action, as well as the genre of
the text, inuences the eectiveness of text as a mediational means of reection.
Text
ID:p0420
as a mediational means appeared dierently in the process of reective action of the
participating Russian and American teachers. For the American teachers, text as a mediational
means of reection could be a story of practice, a description of its critical moments, as well
as ideas, values, and choices. For the Russian teachers, to create such a text was to present the
general philosophical ideas their practice is based on, and to describe and question its rationale,
and theoretical framework, and provide examples from practice (the latter was optional). e
specic details and everyday observations were for reective dialog, not for the written text.
us, the meanings of mediational means were developed in the history of the larger educational
cultures; and a particular mediational means, for example, a text can be a viewed as working
dierently for Russian and American teachers.
Interestingly
ID:p0425
, in both schoolsteachers were encouraged to learn how to use writing as medi-
ational means of teachers’ reective actions. us, writing texts as mediational means did not
emerge naturally in the course of teacher’s experiences. Instead, it was introduced by their school
in the course of professional development. As teachers appropriated text as a mediational means
of their reective actions, it changed their visions of practice. e introduction of new medi-
ational means changes the process of reective action. Teachers used writing a story of their
practice as a cognitive tool for conceptualization and a cultural tool of communication. e intro-
duction of the new mediational means, text, changed also the way teachers used other medi-
ational means. For example, reective dialog with text involved unfolds quite dierently from
one without text, for text oers objectied ideas and meanings that can be interpreted indepen-
dently by the participants of a dialog. Situations in which reective action is mediated by several
mediational means require further research.
Each
ID:p0430
of the study participants had a favorite mediational means that they would use most
often when they need to reect on their practice. Some preferred to have a dialog with another
teacher or write a reective journal, trying to capture through writing the complexities of every-
day practice. Others would draw schematic representations of the event of practice to capture
the event of practice as a whole. However, none of the teachers were employing these cultural
tools they either learned in their college education or other life experiences purposefully with
full understanding of their limitations and opportunities. On a dierent note, it is possible
to argue that teachers who mastered a specic cultural tool and used it purposefully to reect
moved away from spontaneous reection as description or verication of their actions to reec-
tion as a higher psychological function, that is, they used the cultural tool to master their own
process of reective thought using the mediational means as a psychological tool to organize
their reection.
Although
ID:p0435
both MCS, New York, and SSD, Moscow teachers who participated in the rst
study had coteachers in their classroom, coteaching was not explored as a model contributing
to the development of reection as a higher psychological function. e second study explores
the development of reection as a higher psychological function in the context of coteaching.
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290 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
COTEACHING
ID:T
I0080
AS A MEANS TO DEVELOP REFLECTION AS A HIGHER
PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTION
is
ID:p0440
study focused on the development of preservice primary teachers’ condence and ability to
teach primary science through reection and reective practice in an innovative program in which
the preservice teachers (PST) shared expertise as they coplanned, copracticed, and coevaluted
lessons with experienced cooperating teachers for one morning per week over a period of 7
weeks as part of their school experience placement (internship). e focus on coteaching as a
means to develop reection as a higher psychological function is based on its unique context
in which coteachers are constantly engaging in coreection as they prepare, teach, and evaluate
lessons which aim at “ideal” practice in relation to student learning. In addition, part of this ideal
practice was for coteachers to reect on their appropriation of the coteaching process in order to
improve their own and each other’s creative practice such that their conscious shared contribution
to design, implementation, and evaluation results in enhanced learning and teaching for all. We
introduced a set of mediational means, to enable PSTs to develop the psychological tools that
are required for eective development of the higher psychological function (HPF) of reection
(Figure 2):
e
ID:p0450
focus on developing reection as an HPF in coteaching was derived from our observations
over many years of coteaching that most reection by coteachers evidenced surface level only,
for example, below is a PST reection on her experience of coteaching:
I
ID:p0455
had a real opportunity to build condence in teaching science and this helped me pre-
pare for my teaching practice [internship]. I feel this was a totally worthwhile experience.
I built good relationships with all children and enjoyed teaching the lessons. I denitely
feel much more condent in teaching practical science and have a clearer understanding
of how children learn science. I think the children enjoyed it. ey loved getting involved
and I could tell they were excited every Tuesday morning. e teacher enjoyed it as well.
She let me know this when I was leaving. (Murphy & Beggs, 2010, p. 28)
ese
ID:p0460
comments provide no evidence of constructive critique or reference to adjusting her
own practice for improvement. e development of teacher reection, as a higher psychologi-
cal function mediated by psychological tools is considered within Vygotsky’s cultural–historical
theory. Reection is a systematic, rigorous process of inquiry-based thinking with action, which
requires collaboration with others. Its development is onerous, complex, and, at times, uncom-
fortable for both pre- and in-service teachers (IST). Coteaching, during school experience, can
provide a mediational means whereby both ISTs and PSTs can expand their opportunities for
learning and reection. In terms of the reection process, our research suggests reection for,
on, and in action as units of analysis, coteachers plan, teach, and reect on lessons together (see
Figure 3).
Mediational means
(external)
Psychological tools
(internal) HPF of reflection
FIGURE 2. Mediational
ID:p0445
means and psychological tools of HPF.
Note
ID:p0445
.HPF = higher psychological function.
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 291
REFLECTION FOR ACTION
REFLECTION ON ACTION
REFLECTION IN ACTION
Coreflection
Coplanning
Copractice
FIGURE 3. Reection in coteaching.
Within the reection process, coteachers also reected on the development of their own
reection, using tools such as Larrivee’s (2008) levels of reection, an adaptation of Lampert-
Shepel’s (2008) model of reection based on the work of Dewey and Vygotsky, and cogenerative
dialogue (Tobin, 2006).
Our conceptual model for coteaching is based on Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Develop-
ment (ZPD), incorporating its essential elements described by Veresov (2010), regression and
recursion in the ZPD discussed by other researchers (e.g., arp & Gallimore, 1988; Zebroski,
1994) and critical reection, using Lampert-Shepel’s (2008) model. Our coteaching model also
embraces advice from Roth and Radford (2010) who introduced the dimension of power rela-
tions between individuals involved in interactions, like those experienced in coteaching. Roth
and Radford suggested that insucient attention is given to co-constitution of subjective and
collective consciousness in which interacting participants “become each other’s teachers and
students independent of their institutional positions” (p. 300). eir proposition to consider
the ZPD from a symmetrical perspective connects strongly with our position that coteaching is
based on sharing expertise. Our model also addresses the complexity of interactions that need to
occur between successive stages of development via Rogo, Mistry, Goncu, and Mosier (1993)
consideration of individual development within the ZPD as:
incomplete unless it also considers the societal basis of the shared problem . . . the nature
of the problem the partners seek to solve, the values involved in determining the appro-
priate goals and means, the intellectual tools available, the institutional structures of the
interactions . . . (Rogo et al., 1993, p. 232, cited in Daniels, 2001)
METHODOLOGY FOR COTEACHING
e coteaching project formed the context for an optional primary science education module
within the 3rd and 4th year of a Bachelor of Education program and involved 10 PSTs partnered
with 10 teachers from six local primary schools. ere were three distinct phases of activity:
planning and preparation; copractice; and solo practice. During the planning and preparation
phase, IST–PSTcoteaching pairs attended workshops on a range of innovative approaches to
science teaching, including using stories, puppets, thinking skills, digital resources, drama andPdf_Folio:291
292 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
role-play. In addition, the participants explored coplanning, coteaching, and coreection and
designed their own methods for recording and data collection. e researchers adopted a con-
structivist stance with regard to the design and use of the research instruments and data collec-
tion methods. Coteachers designed formats for coplanning and corection templates and chose
to use video to record their experiences. During the copractice stage, a total of seven science
lessons were coplanned, cotaught, and coevaluated (via coreection) during semester one. Each
coteaching pair chose topics and content to coteach. A dissemination seminar was held early in
semester two for coteachers to share their coteaching experiences and exchange ideas, extend-
ing out PSTs’ and ISTs’ repertoires of engaging science lessons in preparation for the nal stage
of the project, their solo practice. During the course of the PSTs’ school-based solo teaching
placement, they put into practice the pedagogical approaches which they had developed during
the copractice phase. e project concluded with a celebration and dissemination event during
which the teachers and PSTs described how their practice had developed through the course of
the coteaching project.
Data
ID:p0490
was collected from several sources. Researchers and participants constructed all data
collection methods collaboratively. Questionnaires were used at the start of the project, to
identify a baseline regarding participants’ practice and perceptions of good practice, and then
repeated at the end of the pilot, a few months after the coteaching placement had taken place.
Semistructured interviews were also held at the end of the pilot. Documents, for example,
coplans, coreections, classroom observations, PSTs’ assignment essay on coteaching and reec-
tive practice, and video recordings, also provided a rich source of data.
METHODOLOGY
ID:T
I0090
FOR DEVELOPING REFLECTION AS AN HPF
Our
ID:p0495
emphasis on engaging in reective practice through the coteaching model was supported by
creating opportunities and contexts to encourage deep reection, following the advice of Spald-
ing and Wilson (2002) who suggested that “we must actively teach and model reective skills
in a variety of ways if we are to demystify reection” (p. 139). Alger (2006) found that model-
ing the various levels of reection made it accessible and a useful “tool for pre-service teachers
to do the organizing and reorganizing of their understanding” (p. 287). PSTs attended inten-
sive reection workshops in which they were provided with tools to support the development of
deep reection. We purposefully made reection explicit, rather than implicit, in this approach.
Our set of tools, and the workshop context together represented a reection pedagogy. e tools
used as mediational means included
Study
ID:p0500
of eight key research papers on reection, selected and introduced to them by the
research team
A
ID:p0505
summary of levels of reection (adapted from the work of Larivee, 2008)
Use
ID:p0510
the following guide in your coreection discussions to ensure that you address
each of the levels below:
Level
ID:p0515
1: Surface reection (e.g., using evidence and making adjustments based on
experience only)
Level
ID:p0520
2: Pedagogical reection (e.g., adjust methods and practices based on stu-
dents’ relative performance)Pdf_Folio:292
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 293
Level 3: Critical pedagogical reection (e.g., commitment to continuous learning
and improved practice; constructive criticism of own practice; sees teaching prac-
tices as remaining open to further investigation)
A schematic representation of how they might develop from novice coteachers toward
experts (Figure 4)
Development of a coreection sheet during the workshop which focused on reection
as consideration of their coteaching practice in terms of the Vygotskian ideal of pupil
learning and of their development as coteachers. Coteachers commented on the following
after lessons:
“Ideal” children’s science learning from this lesson—how did we or they do?
What limited their learning?
How good were the tools used and how could we improve them?
What changes should be made?
How far did coteaching enable both teachers to attain their planned learning/develop-
ment?
Requirement for PSTs to complete an assessed essay on their experience of coteaching
and the development of their reection as an HPF.
e use of these mediational means was intended to promote the development of psycho-
logical tools to analyze problems and model the mediational means in the production of strate-
gies to improve aspects of their coteaching, and thus the children’s (and their own) learning.
e internal psychological tools developed can be used intentionally and applied in new situa-
tions. In the next section, the ndings illustrate that not all coteachers developed reection as
an HPF to the same extent. Some exhibited reection as lower levels than others. Experiment-
ing with dierent tools and monitoring dierent ways to use them could generate a way forward
to improve the levels of teacher reection, leading to teaching mastery and the mastery of their
own reective process.
Overall Findings: Reection on Coteaching
Evidence from PST reections on coteaching indicated that some essential elements of the ZPD
appeared to be more important than others for developing their condence through coteach-
ing. e data was collected at the end of the project, so PSTs reected on development during
coteaching and afterward, when they enacted only solo teaching in the block placement.
eir reections on coplanning highlighted the interaction between real and ideal form as their
most useful construct. ”Ideal” practice became a powerful tool in coplanning. Most commented
Participation
Shared
participation
Cooperation
Shared
cooperation
Contribution
Shared
contribution
Sure, I’ll be
involved!
What
should I
do?
Should I
look
after?
What if we...?
Why don’t
we..?
Wow, let’s
make…
FIGURE 4. Stepwise development of coteaching toward shared contribution.
Pdf_Folio:293
294 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
on ideal practice as thinking more about children’s learning than about lesson resources. Indica-
tive quotes from two of the PSTs’ reective essays were:
When
ID:p0590
I am planning a lesson now I am constantly thinking is this the best way for my
pupils, can I improve on their learning?
Before
ID:p0595
I focused on resources and how they worked, whereas after coteaching I went:
“okay this group didn’t get this, and this is why I think they didn’t get it, so this is what I’ll
do instead next time.” It was much more detailed in terms of children’s learning instead
of the practical setup of the classroom.
Reection
ID:p0600
on copractice indicated that Vygotskian imitation was the most useful concept.
PSTs recalled examples in their interviews, mostly relating to aspects they had noticed during
coteaching and had integrated into their solo practice, for example,
Let
ID:p0605
them ramble on for longer bring up their ideas . . .
More
ID:p0610
discussion in my lessons; the teacher had the class organized in specic ways so
they weren’t just sitting at their desk—they engaged more in discussion. I do that now.
Vygotskian
ID:p0615
imitation was commented on in more depth in PSTs’ reective essays, for
example,
. . . as such I seemed to move from the surface level to the more pedagogical and critical
levels of reection quicker, as I asked the questions the [coteaching partner] teacher would
have asked, such as: “where is the progression in this lesson?” “is this particular aspect of
the lesson benecial to learning?” “how can you overcome the common misconceptions a
child will make in this lesson?” etc.
FINDINGS
ID:T
I0100
ON DEVELOPING REFLECTION AS AN HPF
e
ID:p0625
reections above indicated aspects of deeper reection indicating that PSTs were reecting
in relation to ideal practice and adjusting their own practice in search of the ideal. e begin-
ning of the comment just above indicates a PST’s metareection, in which she is monitoring her
progression from lower, surface level toward the deeper pedagogical and critical levels. e data
in Table 1 below evidences examples of PSTs reections at levels 1–3, (surface, pedagogical, and
critical), and a new level of metareection on the process of their reection, in which one of the
tools we gave them in the workshops could restrict their reective processes, which indicated
very deep and productive reection as a higher psychological function.
DISCUSSION
ID:T
I0105
Earlier
ID:p0670
coteaching studies (Murphy & Scantlebury, 2010) have revealed fairly low-level reec-
tion from coteachers, in that there is little attention paid to how lessons were enacted in relation
to ideal practice and more to surface-level description. In this study, PSTs were provided with
specic mediational means, such as eight core articles from the literature which explored reec-
tive practice, and support from the research team to use these eectively in writing a reective
essay on their coteaching experiences. Such structured reection, which included reference to
Larivee’s (2008) tool for reection which identied levels of PST reection, generated a much
deeper engagement by PSTs with coteaching practice in their essays than was evidenced in the
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Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 295
TABLE 1. Preservice
ID:p0630
Teacher Reection—Data From Reective Essays
Major
Category Finding Indicative Quotes
Coreection
ID:t0005
Identied huge
benets of
coteaching,
including working
with a critical
friend . . .
1. “I wouldn’t have touched investigative science side
before with a barge pole . . . Not on your life would
I have given them [6-7yrs] cups of water . . . too
nervous of what they would do. . . my [coteaching]
experience totally changed that.”
Level
ID:p0640
2 (surface reection) (e.g., using evidence
and making adjustments based on experience
only).
Individual
ID:t0020
reections
on
coteaching
Most PSTs
indicated that
they progressed
from evaluating
resources and
classroom
activities to
reecting on
children’s learning
2. “e content of reection changed. Before I focused
on resources . . . whereas after coteaching I went:
‘OK this group didn’t get this and this is why
I think they didn’t get it, so this is what I’ll do
instead next time.’ It was much more detailed in
terms of children’s learning . . .
Level
ID:p0650
3 (pedagogical reection)(e.g., adjusts
methods and practices based on students’ relative
performance).
eory
ID:t0035
/Practice Direct and deep
reection on
theory into
practice and
sometimes
developing new
theory from
practice was more
evident in PSTs
than ISTs.
3. “rough coteaching I have developed my reective
practice through the levels of progression . . . It is
evident that whilst coteaching has developed my
RP the road to becoming a competent RPer will be
long. R is arguably a process, not a method . . . must
be developed throughout . . . career. is journey
. . . facilitating lessons which site pupils’ learning in
the forefront has begun and it will be interesting to
chart the progress & eectiveness of my reection
throughout . . . career.
Level
ID:p0660
4 (critical pedagogical reection) (e.g.,
commitment to continuous learning and improved
practice; constructive criticism of own practice;
sees teaching practices as remaining open to
further investigation).
Metareection
ID:t0050
Some PSTs
critiqued the
process (using an
agreed template
for reection)
4. “roughout the coteaching experience, reection
arguably occurred through the provision of a
structure, in the coreection template, maximising
the thinking process. e structure gave reections
a premise, however, care must be taken in the use
of templates when reecting to ensure that the
process is not hampered by the completion of
sections on paper.”
Level
ID:p0665
4 (as above)
Pdf_Folio:295
296 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
interviews. In addition, PSTs used a template for reection developed by the research team, and
one critiqued this instrument in her reective essay:
roughout
ID:p0675
the coteaching experience, reection arguably occurred through the provi-
sion of a structure, in the coreection template, maximizing the thinking process. is
structure gave reections a premise, however, care must be taken in the use of templates
when reecting to ensure that the process is not hampered by the completion of sections
on paper.
Another
ID:p0680
comment from a reective essay indicated how the PST was considering her
coteaching experience in relation to her teaching career.
rough
ID:p0685
coteaching I have developed my reective practice through the levels of progres-
sion and in a variety of ways through reection in action and reection on action . . . It is
evident that whilst coteaching has developed my refective practice, the road to becoming
a competent “Reective Practitioner”(GTCNI, 2007) will be long. Reection is arguably
a process, not a method, but a process which must be developed throughout a teaching
career. is journey of eective reection, facilitating lessons which site pupils’ learning
in the forefront has begun and it will be interesting to chart the progress and eective-
ness of my reections throughout my teaching career.
Use
ID:p0690
of these external mediational means enabled the PSTs to develop the required, internal
psychological tools in order to utilize the higher psychological funtion of reection more eec-
tively in the development of their current and future practice as creative teachers. Teachers who
used the mediational means as the imposed structure rst, could apply them next on their own
to facilitate the reection with the coteacher, their own individual reection or metareection.
is is the evidence that they developed the psychological tools to facilitate their own process
of reection and therefore develop reection as a higher psychological function.
Implications
ese
ID:p0695
studies’ ndings generated a number of implications for the practice of teachers and
teacher educators. First, it is argued that reection as a higher psychological function develops
in the course of teachers’ reective actions. At the core of the development of reection as a
higher psychological function is teachers’ mastery of an array of mediational means of reec-
tion, and the development of psychological tools of reection that help them master their own
process of reection and reective action. e education of teachers in the dierent mediational
means of reection can support their development of reection as a higher psychological func-
tion. In the rst study, teachers were using various mediational means spontaneously. Only in
the course of the study did it become clear for teachers that these were not universally help-
ful for every situation in practice. Only a few of the teachers used mediational means purpose-
fully (see the example with metaphor, in the previous section Metaphors as Mediational Means
and Psychological Tools), and therefore had limited opportunity to develop psychological tools of
reection. In the second study, teachers mastered various mediational means to structure their
reection (texts, graphic models, levels) and were engaged in the joint activity of coteaching that
provided the opportunity for dialogical reection on their practice. As the data analysis shows,
Pdf_Folio:296
Development of Mediational Means and Psychological Tools of Reective Practice 297
teachers in the second study had more opportunity to develop reection as a higher psycholog-
ical function, the more they used mediational means purposefully to direct their reection on
practice, and master their own process of reection. In addition, the continuous joint activity
with the coteacher creates an opportunity of a double-mediation when another teacher in the
pair becomes an additional meditational means in the process of reection. Such situation of
double-mediation helps teachers to reect not only on the situation, but also on the medita-
tional means they are using. In the context of the coteaching, teachers master the meditational
means and have a better opportunity to develop psychological tools of reection.
Continuous
ID:p0700
teachers’ reective practice is vital for ongoing inquiry and learning about
their practice and, therefore, their development as professionals capable of critical inquiry and
transformation of their own practice. Certain conditions are necessary for the development of
teachers’ reective practice. First, since professional teachers’ reection is part of the craft of
teaching, teachers must learn how to reect on practice, the array of mediational means of reec-
tion, and ways of developing psychological tools of reection. ey need to know what the pro-
cess of reective action entails, and possibilities and limitations of various ways of reection. To
meet the needs of diverse students, teachers need to be educated how to identify the problem
in practice and the matching mediational means to reect on it. Since teachers indicate in some
cases that dialogical reection is not as helpful as creating a graphic model of the situation in
practice, the use of individual narrative can help to capture some important details but not nec-
essarily pose critical questions necessary to advance the reective process. erefore, teachers
need to be educated in the library of the mediational means of reection and understand their
limitations to guide reective thought.
Since
ID:p0705
reection as a higher psychological function develops in the course of social interac-
tion, teachers should have an opportunity to belong to a community of inquiry that oers con-
tinuous reective dialog to construct emergent meanings, challenge existing understandings,
and conceptualize practice. ere is a dialectical relationship between the level of the devel-
opment of reection as a higher psychological function and teacher’s agency. e more devel-
oped the teacher’s reective practice is, the higher the ability to conceptualize your own practice
and transform it into praxis, the stronger is the ownership of one’s own approaches to teach-
ing and learning, the teacher’s agency in continuous meaning-making. A coteaching model that
includes educating teachers in mediational means of reection supports teachers’ inquiry into
their teaching, and develops their ability to reect.
As
ID:p0710
many educational leaders and teacher educators expect teachers to engage in reective
practice as a natural ability of the mind, teachers need to be educated in reective practice as
a professional learning activity. Like any human activity, it has its complex cultural system of
goals, structure, processes, and mediational means. Learning how to make meaning of everyday
practice using the lenses of various philosophical and theoretical frameworks, and learning how
to create, develop, and conceptualize their own practice is important for teachers to become the
agents of their professional learning activity through the mastery of the reection as a higher
psychological function. Teachers who are engaged in the continuous inquiry into their teaching
and learning have a better chance to create, develop, and sustain the inquiry in their classroom,
so vitally important for learning and development of all students in their classrooms.
NOTES
1. Although Vygotsky uses the word “personality,” the direct translation might not be helpful, as person-
ality is understood as a developmental transformational process characterized by agentive behavior.Pdf_Folio:297
298 Lampert-Shepel and Murphy
e concept of personality has been conceptualized as self (Stetsenko, A. & Arievitch, 2004) and/or
agency. In this publication, we refer to Vygotsky’s concept of personality as “agency.”
2. Vygotsky used the term higher psychological functions, that has been often translated as “mental func-
tions.” is choice of language caused inaccurate connotations, as mental functions can be considered as
purely cognitive processes, while Vygotskian understanding of higher psychological functions implies
the unity of aect and intellect.
3. Distributed cognition is a school of psychology developed in the 1990s by Edwin Hutchins. Using
insights from sociology, cognitive science, and Vygotskian cultural–historical psychology, it empha-
sizes the social aspects of cognition. Distributed cognition proponents argue that cognition is not to be
found within the head only; rather cognition is distributed among other people and tools.
4. e ideal plane of action represents here cognitive functions of reection, analysis, modeling and plan-
ning, that is, cognitive and emotional aspects of human action.
5. e issue of how to learn from going to other teachers’ classrooms emerged at SSD’s third group meeting
when they were discussing the videotape “e Lightning Post-Oce.” Teacher 1, SSD and Teacher 4,
SSD suggested that the lens for observing other teacher’s classroom should be their own problem area
in teaching. But all the teachers present at the meeting said that teachers’ texts describing their practice
are very helpful to learn about other teacher’s practice, especially their rationale for making decisions.
(Fieldnotes from SSD group meeting 3).
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Disclosure
ID:p0740
. e authors have no relevant nancial interest or aliations with any commercial
interests related to the subjects discussed within this article.
Correspondence regarding this article should be directed to Elina Lampert-Shepel, Gradu-
ate School of Education, Touro College, 320 W 31st St., Room 215C, New York, NY. E-mail:
elina.lampert-shepel@touro.edu
Pdf_Folio:300
... Another important thinking skill for teachers and prospective teachers is RT. In the international literature, it is underpinned that RT skills are one of the qualifications that teachers are to hold in both prospective and in-service teacher education (Lampert-Shepel & Murphy, 2018;National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2016;Yu & Chiu, 2019). In the updated "General Competencies of Teaching Profession" in Turkey, it is emphasized that teachers should be individuals who are open to continuous improvement (MoNE, 2017). ...
... CT and RT skills of teachers and prospective teachers are considered important in terms of professional development and educational reforms (Aryani, Rais, & Wirawan, 2017;Burgoyne & Chuppa-Cornell, 2018;Choy & Oo, 2012;Ghanizadeh, 2017;Lampert-Shepel & Murphy, 2018;Yeh, 2004;Yu & Chiu, 2019). CT and RT skills, which are associated with the problem solving process and are higher order thinking skills, are also important in terms of mathematics education (Cutts, 2018;MoNE, 2018;Peter, 2012;Rott & Leuders, 2017). ...
... It was observed that the studies dealing with the relationship between CT and RT skills were carried out with prospective primary school teacher, students studying at faculties of engineering and social sciences or guidance and psychological counseling (Aşkın-Tekkol & Bozdemir, 2018;Evin-Gencel & Güzel-Candan, 2014;Göğüş, Göğüş, & Bahadır, 2019). CT and RT skills are critical and necessary skills for prospective mathematics teachers (Cutts, 2018;Inoue & Buczynski, 2011;Lampert-Shepel & Murphy, 2018;Rott & Leuders, 2017). Notwithstanding, to the best of the researcher's knowledge, there is no study in the literature addressing the relationship between CT and RT skills of prospective mathematics teachers. ...
... Efficient program of professional development should be focused not only on obtaining specific knowledge and mastering teaching technics but also on development of professional reflection, further mentoring, and supervision [14][15][16]. The main methods of teachers' reflection development are group discussion, feedback, reflective diaries, comparison of own practice with theoretical approaches, mentoring (moreover, both trainee and mentor positions can support reflection development), self-assessment, analysis of video [13,[17][18][19]. ...
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