Critical Reflection and Self-Analysis: A Review of the Current Research in the Adult Learning Environment
This paper address the current trends of two key features in adult learning: the ability to critically reflect on our own experiences, and to incorporate knowledge gained by learning through doing. Critical reflections appeal as an adult learning strategy lies in the claim of intellectual growth and improvement in one's own ability to see the need for, and to effect personal system change. Assumptions structure our way of seeing reality, govern our behaviour and describe how relationships should be ordered. A number of educators assert assumption analysis to be a first step in the critical reflection process and ask if it can be taught in a classroom. Quality teaching and self- analysis are the keys to dynamic and beneficial development in learners. Research has identified characteristics of quality teaching with some indicators more easily measured than others. In a similar way, strategies of self analysis can be identified, organised as a hierarchical and continuous process, and when followed, would result in self-development. The experiential learning process involves undertaking an activity, analysing what was learnt through that activity, which, in turn, facilitates the application of this learning to other areas of our lives. Deep learning, achieved through reflection upon everyday experiences, can be seen as the most effective. It is apparent that the challenge for adult educators is knowing how to bridge the changeover from classroom to practice. This paper is a response to the current theoretical frameworks, which model many of the strategies that educators have identified for maximising strengths, minimising weaknesses and achieving desired goals.
Keywords: Adult learning, Critical reflection, Self-analysis, Vocational education, Self directed learning
Mr Peter Frost
Teacher, Hunter Institute, TAFE NSW
Dr Don Adams
Lecturer, School of Education, University of Newcastle