ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

I’m a reflective practitioner in the field of online teaching

Posted on: April 25, 2018

In the weeks after my last post I continued reading Schön’s books „Reflective Practitioner“ (1) and “Educating the Reflective Practitioner” (2). This week we will discuss his ideas in the ZML Journal Club and I want to get a better understanding of what I have read.

In my last post I wrote about the first chapters where Schön elaborated why reflection-in-action is at the core of the work of practitioners. In the following chapters he discussed examples of reflection-in-action in such diverse fields as architecture, psychotherapy, engineering design, scientific research and management. Now I will focus on the chapter about Patterns and Limits of Reflection-in-Action where Schön discusses patterns of similarity and difference in reflection-in-action in the different fields and reflects upon the limitations to reflection-in-action.

Constancy and Variation

On page 268 (Schön, 1983) describes the process of investigating a problem in a way which I like a lot. He writes:

  • The inquiry begins with a problem.
  • However this problem is initially set it will change over time and during the process.
  • The inquirer has to keep an open mind when he or she discovers phenomena which contradict the initially set problem.
  • This openness allows the reframing of the problem.

In his examples of the different disciplines the inquiry turns into a frame experiment. A successful inquirer is open to perceive the problematic situation and to reframe it. He/she lives with contradiction by following the implications of his/her discipline and remaining open to surprise and new developments. In reflecting the reframing process the inquirer discovers new questions and new ends. This process takes place in successful practices independent of the discipline. Nevertheless there are some so-called constants which characterize the work within a discipline:

  • media and language to describe the discipline (the repertoire),
  • the appreciative system (3) with respect to problem setting, evaluation of inquiry and reflection (ähnlich wie Wertehaltung, Kultur in einem Fachgebiet),
  • the underlying theories how to make sense of phenomena and
  • the role frames – based on their instiutional settings – seen as filter that influences how practitioners define their professional responsibilities.

Also these constants change over time but at a slow rate, sometimes in response to reflection. As former theoretical physicist my appreciative system is based on logic and  mathematical proofs. My approach has further developed after many years in the field of university teacher training and doing research in online pedagogy. Now my appreciative system is broader and less logic – but when I have to solve a problem the mindset of the physicist comes first and it is conscious work to include the mindset of a pedagogue as well.

“Media cannot really be separated in their influence from language and repertoire. Together they make up the “stuff” of inquiry, in terms of which practitioners move, experiment, and explore. Skills in the manipulation of media, languages and repertoire are essential to a practitioner’s reflective conversation with his situation. … Because they have developed a feel for the media and languages of their practice, they … can construct virtual worlds in which to carry out imaginative rehearsals of action” (p 271). (That’s how I work)


(1) Schön, Donald, A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books.

(2) Schön, Donald A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. Jossey-Bass.

(3) The term Appreciate system was defined by Geoffrey Vickers

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