Primary School Pre-Service Teachers' Collective Reflective Discourse On Reflection


Reflection is one of the most important processes that can be used to improve teaching. Even though pre-service teachers' attitudes toward reflection, specifically to written reflection, are unclear, teacher education programs specifically emphasize the importance of written reflection for the education and development of pre-service teachers. In order to explore their attitudes, a collective reflective discourse was conducted. The research question is: What are the attitudes of primary school, pre-service teachers toward reflection, especially written reflection, at the beginning of the first preparatory year? A small group of eight, first-year, pre-service students participated in a collective reflective discourse on reflection at one of the educational colleges in Israel. The research findings according to qualitative content analysis indicate that most of the pre-service teachers' attitudes toward reflection changed from negative to positive during the discourse session. In addition, the pre-service teachers' misconceptions about reflection were also altered during the discourse. This article presents a literature review on reflection, collective reflection, and pre-service teachers' attitudes toward reflection. A description of the small-group method, collective reflective learning discourse, and the resulting qualitative content analysis will follow. Finally, conclusions will be presented with recommendations to improve teacher education programs.

Keywords: Reflectionwritten reflectioncollective reflective learningpre-service teachers


Reflection is an acceptable method for individual development and focuses primarily on improving problems and difficulties ( Dewey, 1933). During their training process, pre-service teachers (PST) are encouraged to reflect on and learn from their in-school teaching experience ( Jaeger, 2013; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008; McClure, 2005). Beyond the importance of personal reflective learning for professional development, it is recognized that C ollective R eflective L earning (CRL) is important to the development of teaching skills ( Anderson, 2006; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008; Schechter & Michalsky, 2014).

Learning with others enriches reflection on experience ( Rodgers, 2014) . C ollective R eflective L earning (CRL) of professional practices and approaches emphasizes the importance of PST learning from their teaching experience ( Schechter & Michalsky, 2014). However, PST reflection is still primarily done through the traditional method of subjective, individual, written reflection or through discourse with a mentor and P edagogical I nstructor (PI). Even when reflection is done in the reflective learning discourse framework with a mentor and peer(s), PST also need to write personal reflections on their learning that are not necessarily connected to the collective discourse content ( Birenbaum, 2013; Dewey, 1933; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008; Schön, 1987).

According to this literature review, the strength and advantages of applying CRL discourse as a methods of PST reflection, expressing and exposing PST attitudes, and promoting reflection had not yet been applied or studied. While researchers believe that reflection is one of the most effective tools and processes to promote teaching skills and professional development of PST ( Kohen & Kramarski, 2018; Kramarski & Michalsky, 2009; Perry & Rahim, 2011).

The aim of this research is to expose PST attitudes toward reflection and determine if changes occur through CRL discourse. The research question is: What are the attitudes of primary school, pre-service teachers (PST) toward reflection, mostly written reflection, at the beginning of the first preparation year? Eight, first-year PST participated in the small group, CRL discourse research, at one of the educational colleges in Israel. First, a literature review on reflection in education, collective reflection, and PST attitudes toward reflection will be presented.  Then a description of the CRL discourse method and a qualitative content analysis of the PST attitudes will be presented. Finally, conclusions will be discussed, and some recommendations will be suggested for teachers' education preparation programs.   

Reflection in Education

Personal reflections are most acceptable in educational programs so teachers can learn from their experience and improve their teaching accordingly. Even though CRL is becoming common practice in educational preparation programs, its strength and advantages have not been used to evaluate and expose attitudes about reflection or to promote personal, written reflection on teaching experience. At the time this literature review was conducted, no research about the effect of CLR discourse on PST attitudes on reflection had been found;

Reflection is a type of retrospective introspection. In Latin, retrospection means a "turning back", which in this case refers to turning back and looking at actions, occurrences, or events. It is also an experience of deliberate, internal observation that promotes the description, analysis, and evaluation of thoughts, assumptions, beliefs, feelings, theories, and actions to be expressed and exposed consciously. It includes options to simultaneously contemplate the future, the present, and the past based on self-awareness, openness, and willingness to internalize new insights ( McClure, 2005).

Furthermore, experience is the inert starting point of reflection, and understanding how they work together increases the value. Reflection replays an experience over and over and reconstructs it from new points of view while simultaneously searching for meaning ( Dewey, 1938; Rodgers, 2014). Reflective learning through free and associative reflection, structured reflection, or chronological recollection is an important learning stage that develops independent learners. Structured learning reflection is a major tool that stimulates recollection of the past to enable the construction of comprehensive insight about an experience. It can be done through speech, writing, or creative activities that allow a person to reconstruct and reveal hidden information such as descriptions, thoughts, and feelings about an experience. Reflective learning also promotes professional development. Throughout teacher training, knowledge displayed through thought patterns, assumptions, theories, and facts were revealed in a different way, reexamined, transformed, and constantly reorganized through reflective learning ( Schön, 1987; Schön & Rein, 1994).

Personal reflection has been a long-standing, acceptable tool for improving teaching. It is individualized and focuses on problems or difficulties specific to the individual (Dewey, 1916, 1933; Rodgers, 2014). During the teacher training process, students are encouraged to reflect on their student-teaching experiences so they can increase their learning during the practicum phase. This process emphasizes their self-learning instead of only focusing on their teaching ( Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008). At its basic, reflection is subjective, applied to individual experience, and relates to actions, new knowledge, emotions, or interpersonal interaction. It is used for learning consciously in order to improve future performance and effectiveness in similar situations (Dewey, 1933, 1938; Schön, 1987; Shulman, 1987).

Reflecting with deep, practical, and applied insight into future educational processes requires a certain level of awareness that is enhanced through post reflection, reflection-in-action, and reflection-on-action. Reflection-on-action is most frequently used in education. It is carried out after the lesson, includes references to classroom implementation, and contains conclusions and recommendations for the future ( Jaeger, 2013; Schön, 1987). However, despite the proven importance of personal reflective learning on the development of student teachers, there is now significant and influential support for the importance of collective reflective learning on teacher development.

Collective Reflective Learning

Collective Reflective Learning is defined as a collaborative learning process during which learners systematically reflect on behaviors that have led to past performance outcomes. Cognitive development of information about an experience promotes their awareness, the collection of information, the production and reorganization of professional knowledge, and finally, the necessary changes needed in their behavior ( Ellis & Davidi, 2005). Through reflectively processing actions after an event, participants deliberately reflect on specific aspects of their experiences and the effects of their actions in their environment ( Jaeger, 2013; Schön, 1983).

Learning with others enriches reflection on experience in most classes as documented by descriptive feedback and reflective conversation between teachers and students. By learning together, students have support as they try to figure out how to improve ( Perry & Rahim, 2011; Rodgers, 2014). To this end, CRL on teaching is not only important for the development of PST teaching skills but also promotes self-regulation in learning. Moreover, developing the practice of CLR is becoming more valuable because teachers are increasingly encouraged to support reflection as a shared learning experience that takes place in the framework of group participation rather than in the mind of the individual ( Anderson, 2006; Jaeger, 2013; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008).

These reflective processes have been focused on the collaborative learning of future teachers through peer discourse, thus creating an emotional impact that is reflected in the emerging explanations of collegial learning, sharing relationship rather than hierarchical, one-way learning from top to bottom ( Anderson, 2006; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008). In spite of Manouchehri’s (2002) findings that indicate peer discourse and collaborative reflection help PST develop competence and ability to adopt new perspectives, Krainer ( 2003) argues that there is much more to explore and learn about collaborative processes and their impact on how future teachers reflect on their teaching experiences.

From a professional practice approach, CRL emphasis that PST approach their teaching as students so they can learn from their experience. During the collective learning, PST reflect on their teaching processes, practices, and results. This is a widespread application in teacher preparation programs around the world ( Schechter & Michalsky, 2014). However, even still, the widely accepted way to develop PST skills is through personal subjective reflection of the PST following teaching. This traditional approach is done by the individual through writing or through discourse with a mentor and pedagogic instructor. It is only occasionally practiced in the framework of CRL with mentor and peer(s) ( Birenbaum, 2013; Dewey, 1933; Le Cornu & Ewing, 2008; Schön, 1987).

Educators, lectures, and researchers still agree that the reflection process in PST preparation programs is one of the most important metacognitive processes that promotes and contributes to instruction improvement. As a result, PST usually learn from their teaching experiences in the framework of CRL in order to improve and develop their teaching by learning from problems and difficulties through the course of their preparation program. But they are still required to write personal reflections after the CRL session ( Birenbaum, 2013; Kohen & Kramarski, 2012, 2018; Shulman, 1987).

Even though the literature review revealed that researchers and educators held positive attitudes toward reflection, there is no attribution to the PST point of view. In fact, their attitudes toward written reflection are unclear or completely unknown ( Cardullo, Finley, Burton, & Tripp, 2017; Jaeger, 2013). There were a few attributions in the literature review where negative perspectives were noted. PST resistance to written reflection due to poor content knowledge in the relevant subject-matter domains was noted as well ( Cardullo et al., 2017; Kohen & Kramarski, 2018). However, the reasons behind their resistance to reflect on each of the different subject-matters (science, mathematics, literature, linguistics) were left unexplained.

The researchers focus on the idea that most of the PST are not self-regulated learners. They conclude that because they present poor metacognitive pedagogies and are poor, teaching-centred, student learners, they lack the skills needed to promote their students as self-regulated learners, using metacognitive processes such as reflection. Construction of this predisposition is based on previous research findings which are primarily concentrated in PST professional development as self- regulated learners and on their metacognitive teaching processes. They did not focus on exposing their attitudes toward reflection ( For example, see: Kohen & Kramarski, 2018; Schechter & Michalsky, 2014; Zimmerman, 2008; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011).

In summary, while it seems conclusive that researchers and educators maintain a positive attitude toward reflection as being one of the most significant processes to promote teaching, it seems to only be a hypothesis from the PST point of view. According to the literature review conducted for this research, PST attitudes toward reflection influence PST proactivity in reflective processes and need to be study in practice. The aim of this research is to expose and explore PST attitudes toward reflection, especially written reflection, and determine if changes occur through CRL discourse.

Table 1 -
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Problem Statement

The literature review conducted for the purpose of this research mostly exposes general, negative attitudes of PST toward reflection in connection to subject matter domains. In addition, it has been determined that PST attitudes toward reflection are unclear and need to be investigated further. While most of the researchers in the field of education have a positive attitude toward reflection, they emphasize positive thinking and the benefits of reflection for PST professional development in teaching. In addition, researchers emphasis the CRL discourse as a useful method to learn from teaching and thus promote it for PST teaching. However, in the research literature review, no CRL discourse on reflection occurred during the preparation period of the program. It is important that PST attitudes will be exposed and evaluated in order to promote professional development in teaching.

In addition, when the researcher guided first-year PST, she encountered huge resistance to reflection writing. As a result, she decided to add CRL discourse sessions on reflection, as part of her doctoral research in order to understand PST attitudes toward reflection.

Research Questions

What are the attitudes of primary school, pre-service teachers (PST) toward reflection, especially written reflection, in the beginning of the first-year preparatory program?

Purpose of the Study

The purposes of the study are:

  • To explore PST attitudes toward reflection, mostly to written reflection.

  • To provide recommendations to pre-service preparatory programs regarding teaching and learning from reflection in an innovative way.

Research Methods

Research Paradigm

The research is based on a qualitative-constructivist research paradigm which assumes the use of an interpretive-interactive epistemology in the study ( Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). This paradigm is based on the social construction of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and participants, the topic of study, and the contexts that shape the inquiry ( Creswell, 2015). For this research, it is most suitable to explore PST attitudes toward reflection in this socially constructed paradigm built on the contextual relationship of a CRL discourse group consisting of PST and a PI.

Data Analysis

Discourse categorical content analysis has been conducted in order to reveal the latent knowledge of the research participants (Creswell, 2012, 2015; Shkedi, 2011). Content analysis of common themes have been used in order to reveal PST attitudes towards reflection in the discourse at the beginning of the first preparatory year ( Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). However, since the researcher in this study is also the PI in the research, she refers to herself from the researcher’s role as a PI in the data collection phase because this was her role during the CRL discourse session, and while she analyzed the data.

Research Tool

Audio recorded, Collective Reflective Learning (CRL) discourse session of 43:38 minute was used in the research to explore PST attitudes about reflection. CRL discourse occurs when a group of learners share and reflect through a systematic procedure on their previous behaviours that led to performance outcomes ( Ellis & Davidi, 2005; Michalsky & Schechter, 2013; Schechter, Sykes, & Rosenfeld, 2008; Schön, 1983; Perry & Rahim, 2011).

Using the CRL discourse method allowed the study to first focus on discussing reflection before the PI opened the topic through guided, clarification questions and arguments pertaining to reflection. The PI began the session with a set of gradual questions: What does reflection mean to you? What do you know about reflection? What do you mean when you say "reflection" in academic study? What do you mean when you say "reflection" in reference to your instruction? In order to answer the questions seriously, with high-level metacognitive thinking, the PST was given time to think on and answer each question. They received strips of paper and were asked to write down one detail on each strip, and after a few minutes to think and to write their answers, the PST participated in the CRL discourse about reflection.

Research Population

Eight, first-year PST studying in the special education track of the same educational college in Israel participated in the research. The research was conducted in one session of CRL discourse with a PI at beginning of the 2017 academic year. All of them practiced their teaching in the same primary school classes and were guided by the same PI. In order to preserve privacy and anonymity, all participants have been assigned a pseudonym.


Generally, there were two, unequal PST subgroups identified through the discourse. One group had a negative attitude, and the other group had a positive attitude toward reflection. However, changes did occur in the negative PST subgroup during the discourse. Findings according to each subgroup will be presented.

PST Negative Attitude Toward Reflection

Most of the PST presented a negative attitude toward reflection, especially toward written reflection. Five PST expressed their negative attitude through resistance and revealed their misconceptions about reflection, specifically regarding its purpose, who it is intended for, and how to do it. Three out of five of this subgroup were clearly heard and consistently presented and articulated their negative attitude though resisting loudly, even if they were not explicitly overt from the beginning of the discourse. Their suppressed, negative attitude in the beginning of the discourse was seen by clues in their overt behaviour. They explicitly expressed their negative attitudes as the CRL discourse continued under guided questions from the PI. However, as the discourse progressed, these PST changed their negative attitude to a more positive attitude, especially regarding written reflection.


The data analysis presented PST resistance to reflection according to three phases identified during the discourse: Phase 1- beginning of the discourse; Phase 2- resistance discourse; and Phase 3- constructive promotive discourse. They expressed their resistance to reflection, particularly to written reflection, in two levels, the explicit level and the implicit level. However, changes in their attitude and reduction of the resistance can be seen in the transformation between these two levels. These changes were noticed through the content of the discourse, the variety of laughter, and in the PST attributions to their past and current experiences.

The content in the first phase of discourse was characterized in the explicit level through answering the PI’s questions about reflection based on previous knowledge and according to how they thought the PI expected them to answer. In addition, the resistance was characterized in the implicit level through the PST suppressing laughter and in the content in the implicit level, through negative small-talks between PST that expressed opposition to reflection. However, as the PI asked more questions, their negative attitudes moved from the implicit to explicit level through deeper and more detailed questions. In addition, the PST used a few negative sentences when the PI began asking deeper questions to explore their implicit attitude toward reflection. Furthermore, they attributed to the general uselessness of reflection, specifically of the written reflection, in their past experience (See examples, in Table 01 . - Phase 1).

The discourse continued in the second phase as resistance discourse with shared laughter between the PST without the PI, at the explicit level. In this phase, the PI was able to reveal that most of the PST held negative attitudes toward reflection, specifically written reflection. They explained their perception of written reflection as being written suggestions on how to improve teaching practices. In addition, they used more negative language and detailed examples to express the uselessness of written reflections compared to the value of specific verbal feedback received from a commander or colleague when they explicitly and directly pointed out needed improvements for their teaching. In addition, they accused the PI for being the only one how gave them these tasks to write useless reflection (See examples, in Table 01 . - Phase 2).

The third phase discourse content was characterized by a constructive promotive discourse to help the PST understand reflection writing by focusing on their present experience and practice in teaching. In this phase, they wanted to understand how to write a reflection, its advantages, the requirements, and the components of good reflection writing. In addition, they shared relief-laughter with the PI (See examples, in Table 01 . - Phase 3).

During the session changes occurred in the discourse content, from resistance discourse in the implicit level (phase 1), to resistance discourse in the explicit level (phase 2), to constructive promotive discourse on reflection (phase 3). Additionally, transformation was seen in the kind of laughter used during the discourse, from hidden laughter (phase 1), to PST shared laughter without the PI (phase 2), to PST relief laughter with the PI (phase 3). Furthermore, changes in the attribution to their experience in teaching took place during the discourse. Their general attribution to the uselessness of reflection, especially written reflection, in their past experiences in guiding or educational roles (phase 1) turned to specific examples in their past experience attributing to its uselessness (phase 2), to intention to promote their present experience in teaching in a student-teacher role by understanding how to reflect, specifically in writing (phase 3).

Misconceptions About Reflection

The PST resistance to written reflection was based on misconceptions that were constructed according to their past experiences. The main misconceptions identified during the CRL discourse referred to the reflection content, its purpose, to who it is intended, and to ways of writing reflection.

Misconceptions About the Reflection Content

PST misconceptions about the reflection content were mainly centered on the idea that reflection only includes improvement points, is a "digging" act, and that its content is solely useful to the PI’s evaluation of their teaching. As a result, they misunderstood that the length of the reflection is a determinate factor in the PI evaluation. Even though the PI taught them about reflection in explicit instruction and demonstrative teaching as necessary metacognitive process as self-regulated learners in the prior didactic lessons about reflection, they didn't know how to reflect or write reflection. These research findings suggest that their misconceptions stem from further gaps in their content knowledge about reflection (CK) and strategic and pedagogical knowledge (PK) how to apply it practically ( Moos & Ringdal, 2012; Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006; Perry & Rahim, 2011; Shulman, 1987; Zimmerman, 2008; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011).

In addition, they didn’t feel confident in their ambiguous position of a student-teacher. They felt as though they had low status in the fragile role of a student-teacher. They were also experiencing high levels of emotional uncertainty and fear of being evaluated; However, they began to feel more confident after the resistance discourse and ventilating enabled by the PI, in the second phase. Afterward, in the third phase of the discourse, they admitted their lack of knowledge about writing reflection, asked the PI for more details to elaborate upon the components of written reflection, and to guide them through the writing process (See examples, in Table 02 . - Phase 3).

Misconceptions About the Ways of Reflection Writing

The PST misconceptions about the ways to write reflection were expressed through their emphasis that the structured framework of reflection writing based on the process of guiding question is useless to them. Even though the PI presented the components, and they received them in writing, they didn't know who to write reflection and didn't understand its components. When they argued that spoken discourse with a commander, supervisor, or colleague helped them improve their teaching in the past, the open attitude of the PI allowed her to offer several kinds of reflection. She first presented the process of spoken discourse, as the PST suggested. This method had already been done following lessons taught under the PI’s observation and were later committed to writing; open, authentic refection written in continuous text, not with separated attributions to each guiding question. She also suggested other, non-traditional, reflective strategies like drawing, but the PST preferred to write their reflection according to the formal structured framework of guiding questions (See examples 17 and 18, in Table 02 . - Phase 3).

As the CRL discourse continued, the findings revealed that PST negative attitudes were primarily based on misconceptions about reflection, especially written reflection. However, through the CRL discourse, most of the PST in the negative sub-group began to view written reflection with a more positive attitude and changed their misconceptions to promotive metacognitive thinking processes, mainly in the third phase of the constructive promotive discourse, that was combined with relief, sharing laughter with the PI.

The pre-service teachers' misconceptions, mainly about written reflection, exposed from the implicit level to the explicit level of the discourse driven from their desire to fully understand reflection writing were: (1) The purpose of the refection is to acknowledge the PI in their teaching state and that the PI can evaluate their improvement in teaching. (2) The reflection is intended for the good of the PI, and the demand for reflection is certainly not intended for their own good. (3) According to their past experience, reflection content only contains points of improvement. However, these improvement points were not useful to the PST development and could be untruthful due to their subjective nature. (4) Receiving explicitly stated improvement points from a person of significant influence, such as an instructor, commander, manager, or colleague in verbal feedback, is the best and only useful way to improve teaching and develop their teaching skills.

The pre-service teachers' misconceptions changed to the following promotive metacognitive thinking conceptions: (1) The aim of the reflection is to help PST learn about their teaching, thus empowering them to improve and develop their teaching skills by teaching themselves. (2) The reflection is intended for their own good, and the PI interaction and guidance is intended to assist their professional development as students and teachers. (3) The reflection content should include more than points of improvement, and should include thoughts, feelings, strengths, and abilities. (4) There are a few different ways to successfully write reflections. However, the PST prefer to operate according to the structured framework of answering guided question in open, continuous text, or by answering each guided question separately.

PST Positive Attitude Toward Reflection

The data analysis revealed that three out of eight PST expressed positive attitudes toward reflection. These PST attributed advantage to written reflection in a constructed framework of reflection, including constant components as scaffolding. In the first phase, the PST with positive attitudes verbally expressed their positive thinking on reflection in one or two sentences but mostly listened to the negative subgroup and remained silent at the explicit and implicit levels. However, only one of them presented a stable, solid attitude toward reflection. She felt confident enough to articulate and express her attitude aloud, mainly in the third phase of the discourse (See examples in the Phase 3 column of Table 02 ).

One of the PST with a positive attitude toward reflection emphasized the advantages of reflection and explained how written reflection improved her teaching. First, she described how reflection writing with a structured framework of guided question helped her scaffold ideas and experiences which then helped her learn about her teaching and improve it in future lessons. Secondly, the PST shared that the written reflection assisted her development of deeper, metacognitive thinking processes which also contributed to developing her skills even further.

Assistance and Scaffolding to Learn About and Promote Teaching

Through the CRL discourse, all of the PST who presented positive attitude remained mostly silent. However, in the last phase of the discourse, one of them referred to the advantages of writing a reflection guided by a constructed framework which includes consistent scaffolding components. According to her words, the guided questions made her think about what did and did not work in her teaching of the lesson. In addition, this constructed framework assisted the PST to write a reflection while developing deeper metacognitive thinking processes that contribute to teaching improvement and development by analyzing actions and procedures. This process allowed the PST to question the aspects of her delivery that were ineffective and evaluate what she could do to improve in future lessons (See examples 19, 20, 23, in the Phase 3 column of Table 02 ).

One of these PST also expressed both negative and positive advantages of reflection writing. She shared her honest feeling about writing reflections, while still emphasizing her positive attitude toward reflection. She expressed understanding that it takes time to prepare the writing and that it’s a "digging" act. Finally, she declared that the reflection improved her teaching (See examples 19, 20, 23, in the Phase 3 column of Table 02 ).

Metacognitive Processes Development on Teaching

Among the PST with positive attitudes toward reflection, mostly toward written reflection, development of metacognitive thinking processes occurred. One of the PST stressed that the reflection contributed to internal speech development; greater reflective thinking while teaching a lesson, and increased ability to learn from her teaching after a lesson.

The internal speech development as a high level, self-regulated learner can be seen in one of the PST's explanations about the metacognitive process that she presented in the CRL discourse (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978). She shared about how she was sitting with the intent to write a reflection, and that she thought deeply by "digging" into the process. Her dialogue revealed her internal speech which activated metacognitive thinking processes about teaching, including self-questions and articulation of thoughts through an inner voice. Furthermore, she self-reported that she often sits and thinks about what happened and was important to her. In her words, "What worked?", "What didn't work?", and "Why didn't it work?" She described the action of “digging” and detailed these processes too. She added that additional reflective thinking processes take place in the lesson, and she stressed that it causes her to be more intent and aware, to really sit and devote time to write reflection. Furthermore, when she continued her reflections writing on a regular basis, she mentioned that the process became more natural. Therefore, she was able to improve and change her teaching as a result of the reflection because she was more conscious, aware, and reflective while teaching lessons in practice.

Last but not least, during the third phase, it became clear that the PST who had negative attitude didn't know how to write refection, but they asked for the PI for guidance, explanation, and clarification. Furthermore, it was apparent that the PST wanted to learn how to properly write a reflection because they sought the PI’s approval. During this same phase, one of the PST with the positive attitude opened up by sharing her writing content, intentions, writing process, and even added additional components by sharing her metacognitive thinking processes. Finally, the PI clarified and explained reflection writing according to the content, constructed framework, and the reflection components. At the end of this phase, the PST with the negative attitudes and misconceptions transitioned to more constructive metacognitive processes and to a more positive attitude toward written reflection.

Table 2 -
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Researchers focus on improving PST personal and collective reflections in order to promote metacognitive thinking processes in learning about teaching because it is one of the most important processes for improving PST teaching (Kohen & Kramarski, 2012, 2018; Michalsky & Schechter, 2013; Schechter & Michalsky, 2014). The current research focuses on CRL discourse in order to talk collaboratively about reflection, to expose PST attitudes toward reflection, and activate metacognitive thinking processes. According to the research findings, the CRL discourse method was useful for exposing PST sub-group attitudes toward reflection. The majority group consisted of PST with negative attitude and the other included a few PST with positive attitude toward written reflection.

Moreover, during the CRL discourse, PST with negative attitude shifted to a more positive attitude toward reflection. It can be concluded that CRL discourse has the strength to promote sharing, correct misconceptions, and develop PST reflection processes and practices, while activating metacognitive thinking processes. CRL discourse was found to be a method of learning that accommodated PST understanding and misunderstanding. It was sensitive to their unconfident, fragile status position in-between roles of student-teacher and a teacher, in addition to their emotional and cognitive state of mind. Furthermore, learning through CRL discourse was not only relevant to PST, but it was also sensitive and significant to their competence and willingness to develop and improve teaching skills through reflection (i.e., metacognitively learning from their teaching). Collective learning was researched among PST in early childhood, primary, and secondary schools but was primarily attributed to the shared-regulation potential derived from this type of collaborative learning. However, they did not focus on the strength of learning provided through reflective discourse ( Foong, Nor, & Nolan, 2018; Michalsky & Schechter, 2013; Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006). Four different methods of PST CRL from problematic events in secondary school sciences improved PST teaching to promote self-regulated learning strategies and organizing learning environments ( Schechter & Michalsky, 2014). In addition, collective learning in primary schools involves taking action and performing tasks to promote shared learning regulation and to achieve common goals. These research findings indicated that the PST tasks and practices resembled those of their mentors, and the task complexity was strongly predictive of opportunities for students to develop and engage in SRL ( Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006; Perry & Rahim, 2011).

On the contrary, the current research focused specifically on CRL discourse to exposed PST attitudes toward reflection, especially written reflection. The research findings indicated that most of the PST resistance to written reflection was a result of their emotional and cognitive state and were based on misconceptions constructed through their past experiences. The CRL discourse gave them the opportunity to decrease negativity and transform their attitude about reflection by using the strength of reflective discourse. When the PST negative attitudes were exposed, the PI could understand the roots of the misconception, particularly about the purpose of the reflection, to who it is intended, its value and effectiveness, and that there is only one way to write reflection, she could correct them, and to lead them toward positive and metacognitive thinking processes.

Furthermore, the third phase of the discourse revealed gaps in knowledge regarding the aim, components, and strategies for writing reflection. It is reasonable to assume that this type of pedagogical knowledge is missing at the beginning of the first preparatory year ( Shulman, 1987; Schechter & Michalsky, 2014). However, the CRL discourse gradually provided an understanding of the misconceptions constructed on partial knowledge, past experience, and gaps in knowledge. After sharing their resistance, the learning experience was more relevant and connected to the PST. It accommodated to their emotional and cognitive states and to their student-teacher status and had more potential to grow them into reflective practitioners in their learning and teaching ( Schön, 1987).

In contrast, the minority subgroup of PST expressed positive attitudes toward reflection from the beginning of the CRL discourse, especially toward written reflection. However, only one of them presented a solid attitude toward reflection during the discourse. She emphasized that reflection writing assisted her metacognitive thinking processes while she was teaching. As a result, she pointed out that the constructed writing reflection framework helped her develop internal speech on her teaching (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978). She applied and developed a reflective, metacognitive thinking processes for her teaching from three kinds of reflection recognized by Schön ( 1987) in the following order: on action - reflection after teaching the lesson , in action - while teaching the lesson, and pre-action – before teaching, in planning the lesson, however it can be understood as post reflection, since she applied it in planning the next lesson (s), instead of planning the current taught lesson, as Schön meant ( Schön, 1987).

One of the most significant findings is the PST’s unconfident state of mind resulting from their in-between roles during the first preparatory year ( Jaeger, 2013). Their fragile status and emotional state integrated with misconceptions, gaps in knowledge, and fear of being evaluated is understandable in this stage of professional development. Previous research further revealed that PST experience feelings of astonishment and anger more than fear in the first year (Kupferberg, 2010a, 2010b; Kupferberg & Gilat, 2005). There are other studies that have exposed gaps in reflection content knowledge and in strategic knowledge regarding integrated reflection as a metacognitive process of self-regulated learning ( Kramarski & Michalsky, 2009; Kohen & Kramarski, 2012, 2018). However, the knowledge gap exposed in the current research is more in pedagogical knowledge than in content knowledge ( Shulman, 1987). This is contrary to prior research findings which attribute PST attitudes to their gaps in subject-matter, content knowledge ( Cardullo et al., 2017; Jaeger, 2013).

The connection between the PST’s emotional and cognitive state of mind and their attitudes can be explained by the research literature review of PST during their preparatory program ( Kupferberg & Gilat, 2005). While the teacher "I" identity is just beginning to form during the preparatory teacher education period, the findings suggest that the fragile state of in-between professional identity at the beginning of the first year is the most powerful since the PST are experiencing a transformation between roles. Most of the PST are experiencing transitions from management, leadership, or other educational roles to a student-teacher status in the first-year educational preparation to be in a teacher role ( Jaeger, 2013; Kohen & Kramarski, 2018; Kupferberg & Gilat, 2005). According to the literature review, this stage is characterized by fear, astonishment, anger, low self-esteem, and low self-efficacy of SRL processes, especially metacognitive ones, because of their fragile transformational status ( Kohen & Kramarski, 2018; Kupferberg & Gilat, 2005).

In order to understand this transition deeper, discourse analysis using the "four worlds" system model as an interactive process is used to position participants' self-construction and self-contextualization between the past, present, future, and interpretative worlds in the discourse (Kupferberg, 2010a, 2010b; Kupferberg, 2016). However, PST’s previous knowledge and experience are ignored by the lecturers and the instructors (past world) and they don't determine what the PST already know (present world). It is very important to understand their prior knowledge, consider it, relate to it, and even include it when teaching subjects, issues, strategies, and practices as part of the teachers' role and professional development (future world) in the context of PST preparation program teacher education. While the interpretative world to refers to their role and emotional and cognitive states, emphasizing their strengths and abilities prepares them to be Self-Regulated Teachers (SRT) from a metacognitively reflective point of view.

The PST try to handle their in-between position and status in two ways. One way is by raising their status to be equal to the PI through attributions from past experience. Since they feel unconfident and their self-efficacy is low, they try to increase it by equalizing their status with the PI’s because they feel unable to be self-regulated learners. Another way is by accusing the PI and undermining her authority by stressing the uselessness of written reflection. They actually expressed this in the second resistance discourse phase by saying that she is the only one giving them these useless tasks of reflection. At the end, after the expression of resistance thinking and ventilating occur, they felt confident to admit explicitly that they don't know how to write a reflection. The PI plays a significant role in guiding them in the discourse up to this point. Her significant role in this stage is confirmed by research findings of early childhood PST who participated in dialogic reflective group sessions between the PST, mentor, and college supervisor on the practicum experience. The findings indicate that the PST expressed higher levels of reflective thinking when influenced by different facilitators' styles. These conclusions support previous research citing positive outcomes when PST are provided with guided reflection and additional support to enhance their reflection ( Foong et al., 2018). As Schon predicted, it can be understood that the PI role needs to give academic support for enhancing the reflective skills of educators in the practicum phase, as a facilitator of “first class faculty” and involved as a “coach, advisor, consultant, tutor” ( Schön, 1987).

The PI’s new understanding helps PST build gradual clarification through metacognitive thinking processes and not only facilitates the construction of positive thinking toward reflection but also inspires their motivation to participate in reflection. Understanding how to write reflection as a way to learn about their teaching and improve their skills gave them the self-confidence of a self-regulated learner which helped them accept the need to grow and develop their teaching. Specifically, in the last phase of the discourse, actual changes in misconceptions exposed during the discourse transitioned to metacognitive thinking processes based on their present teaching experiences in their first preparatory year. The transition occurred when the PI accepted the resistance, asked guiding questions, and offered declarative explanations to correct misunderstandings. Her primary goal was to increase PST learning about their teaching as self-regulated learners through her perception of what it means to be a good teacher ( Mazor Cohen, 2018). This growth in self-regulated learning contributed to the change from misconceptions based on negative thinking to metacognitive constructive thinking based on positive thinking about reflection.

Finally, the CRL discourse enables the combination of knowledge, with sensitivity to the emotional and mental state of mind, and develops PST attitudes as self-regulated learners while positioning self-construction in the discourse between the past, present, and future experience in the context of Self-Regulated Teaching (SRT) interpretative worlds according to the "four worlds" system interactive model (Kupferberg, 2010a, 2010b, 2016). In response to the desire of researchers to advance PST reflection, the current research contribution from a theoretical perspective highlights the urgency of exploring the honest and overt opinions of PST regarding reflection, especially written reflection, in accordance with their state of mind and emotions ( Jaeger, 2013; Kohen & Kramarski, 2018). From a practical perspective, the research contribution promotes positive attitude toward reflection. The CRL discourse exposes PST resistance and the origin of their misconceptions about reflection in a safe place, allows for gradual correction, and encourages PST to become self-regulated reflective teachers, which ultimately constructs good teachers ( Jaeger, 2013).


The following recommendations are suggestions for teacher education preparation programs:

  • The PI should operate and speak with a proactive attitude that stems from a belief that the PST are capable of giving themselves feedback and conducting internal reflection on their teaching. The PI should believe that the PST are able to improve their teaching through ongoing learning.

  • It is important for the PI to create an accepting, encouraging, and empowering learning environment in the CRL discourse. This environment allows the PST to express their attitude in resistance discourse and constructive promotive discourse, which then allows them to express their thoughts and feelings about reflection honestly, without judgment.

  • There should be room for in-depth and detailed discourse on reflection, and other topics, that takes place in several CRL discourse group sessions at least three times during the year (beginning, middle, and end). It is recommended to use the CRL discourse potential to expose all PST perspectives and not just the dominant majority.

  • It is recommended that each discourse on reflection begin with the PST's previous knowledge and past experience with reflection. The PI should then ask guided questions in order to expand PST answers and expose their hidden attitudes, misconceptions, and metacognitive thinking processes, moving them from the implicit to explicit level of the discourse. To this end, the PI should ask deeper guiding questions and encourage them to ask questions to promote their learning on teaching, improve their teaching, and fill their knowledge gaps while accommodating their needs.

  • It is important to suggest more than one way of writing a reflection while still maintaining the key structure and content components of the reflection. The PI should emphasize the importance of writing openly. It is also worthwhile to develop new, alternative ways to write reflections in addition to the methods recommended by the PST and the PI, in order to maximize the strength of reflection and to promote learning, learning about teaching, and teaching.

Further research of CRL discourse in different preparatory years' groups with different PI styles in other topics is recommended. This research can improve CRL discourse strengths and improve PI instruction and guidance in the discourse and might expose and explore more of the pre-service teachers' attitudes. This research will greatly assist in the articulation of the proximal CRL discourse components and characteristics which improve and motivate PST to write better reflections, to activate more metacognitive thinking processes and to increases their ability to plan, to think metacognitively by themselves after teaching and to teach, effectively.


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17 June 2020

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Teacher, teacher training, teaching skills, teaching techniques, special education, children with special needs

Cite this article as:

Cohen, I. M. (2020). Primary School Pre-Service Teachers' Collective Reflective Discourse On Reflection. In V. Chis (Ed.), Education, Reflection, Development – ERD 2019, vol 85. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 310-331). European Publisher.