For Week 5, we are looking at Reflective Writing in more detail. I have been practising writing in my blog for a few weeks now and reflecting on the materials, discussion topics and the challenge activities. For the Spark Forum, we looked at Reflect on-action, in-action and for-action.
“Reflection-in-action is reflection during the ‘doing’ stage (that is, reflecting on the incident while it can still benefit the learning)” (Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team 2020).
“Reflection-on-action, on the other hand, involves reflecting on how practice can be developed after the lesson has been taught” (Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team 2020). Schön theories that it’s important to look back on actions, to reflect on what might have changed (Schön 1983).
Reflect for-action asks how reflection-in-action and reflection-on action shape your outlook for the future?
Reflect on-action – What critical incidents led you to enroll on the course?
I’ve always loved academics and known that I wanted to continue studying after graduating in 2019. Developing a game is something I have talked about for a long time. When someone asked me in high school, what I would consider my dream job, I said “I wanted to be a games artist”. That statement met a lot of laughs.
I have matured and begun to understand the complexities involved in developing games. Programming, art, writing and so on, and I want to learn about the whole cycle. I can think of no better challenge than creating a game and considering all those elements. I searched for a distance-learning MA in games development. I was surprised to find one, but I’ve never been so excited or nervous about anything.
I’ve always been tech-savvy and creative. Now I have the opportunity to flex all of my skills on this course.
Reflect in-action – What critical incidents, if any, are you experiencing?
During my second game jam and a fifth week into the course, I have discovered areas where I have a significant skill shortage; there is always the option to outsource skills that you don’t have (and there’s many). I want to learn more about animation, design and music to develop my indie games practice. While I don’t plan to start composing music, acting, or becoming the world’s most excellent animator, I want to understand the process those creatives go through.
Reflect for-action – How are the first two points shaping your outlook for the future?
I am considering ways to fund a future where I continue to develop games. Working part-time or outside of work to build games that will speak to an audience, that will be fun and meaningful. I think the output of creative projects only and always get better with the more voices that speak into it.
Reflection in Agile
“Reflection is a skill that is vital for raising awareness through feedback that enables us to learn, and identifying opportunities for change and improvement” (Waldlock 2015: 118). Reflective practice is an essential skill for working with Agile methodologies and in a professional context. The material I discuss on reflection is largely taken from guides for educators and health professionals, but evidently, it’s also essential for a scrum team or Agile team. “In a scrum team, there is typically a team leader known as the ‘scrum master’” (Waldlock 2015: 144). “They ensure that sprint planning, stand-ups and retrospectives are scheduled and held” (Waldlock 2015: 144). So the ‘scrum master’ is tasked with ensuring the team are completing their retrospectives on time.
The Reflective Software Engineer: Reflective Practice, discusses the importance of reflection for programmers, developers and software engineers in the context of the industry. “Reflection often takes place in cycles of experience followed by conscious application of learning from that experience, during which a software developer might explore comparisons, ponder alternatives, take diverse perspectives, and draw inferences, especially in new and/or complex situations” (Dyba et al. 2014).
While aimed at the software engineer, the information is relevant for all reflective practitioners. “The core of the reflective practice is learning while doing” (Dyba et al. 2014). I am not a software developer but I am an aspirant games developer. I feel it’s important to mention at this point that many indie games developers are not programmers but artists, animators or writers.
Reflective practice can improve wellbeing. “Our empirical studies have already shown that experts carefully schedule deliberate practice and limit its duration to avoid exhaustion and burnout” (Ericsson 1993: 400). Reflective practice can also provide us with information about how we learn. “By viewing expert performers not simply as domain-specific experts but as experts in maintaining high levels of practice and improving performance, we are likely to uncover valuable information about the optimal conditions for learning and education” (Ericsson 1993: 400).
Reflection on the process of reflective writing and otherwise
When I first started my critical reflective journal, I struggled to write anything down. Now, I am starting to learn how to reflect on my experience, development and skills throughout the learning materials and challenges. Practice, in this case, is perfect or at least progress.
There are a number of models of reflective practice, all offering insight into the process of learning and reflecting. Fiona Gardner’s conclusion on reflective practice in ‘Practising Critical Reflection: a Resource Handbook‘ resonates with my own practice in reflective writing so far.
“On a personal level, the process gently – or sometimes not so gently – but ﬁrmly illuminates what I need to work on in my own practice, and how often I need to hear the message to truly understand and act on it. It encourages openness and depth, an attitude of mind that stresses connectedness – between the internal and external and across our experiences as human beings sharing the dilemmas of life and practice” (Gardner 2007: 198).
So far “the process” has “not so gently”, illuminated “what I need to work on in my own practice” (Gardner 2007: 198). Some of our cohort has joked about the process being akin to therapy but knowing ourselves better is a skill. Awareness of our faults, our weakness as well as our strengths gives us the path to better both.
BOUD, David. 2001. ‘Using Journal Writing to Enhance Reflective Practice’. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 2001(90), 9–18.
Cambridge International Education Teaching and Learning Team. 2020. ‘Getting Started with Reflective Practice’. Cambridge Assessment International Education [online]. Available at: https://www.cambridge-community.org.uk/professional-development/gswrp/index.html [accessed 10 December 2020].
DYBA, Tore, Neil MAIDEN and Robert GLASS. 2014. ‘The Reflective Software Engineer: Reflective Practice’. IEEE Software 31(4), 32–6.
ERICSSON, K. Anders, Ralf T. KRAMPE and Clemens TESCH-RÖMER. 1993. ‘The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.’ Psychological Review 100(3), 363–406.
GARDNER, Fiona. 2007. ‘The meaning of critical reflection’. In Jan FOOK and Fiona GARDNER. Practising Critical Reflection: A Resource Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 198-199.
SCHÖN, Donald A. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books.
The Open University. 2016. ‘Learning to Teach: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner’. OpenLearn [online]. Available at: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/mod/oucontent/view.php?printable=1&id=14520 [accessed 10 December 2020].
WALDOCK, Belinda. 2015. Being Agile in Business: Discover Faster, Smarter, Leaner Ways to Succeed at Work. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson.