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Niels Christian M Nickelsen

Researching critical reflection in management education

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Critical reflection for professionals involves the ability to learn directly from their practice experience, so that they can improve their own work in an ongoing and flexible way. By examining the fundamental bases of what they do systematically, critical reflection can also function as a form of evaluation of professionals' practice. It also has many other potential benefits, such as providing support or debriefing, making it an extremely popular and desirable skill to be learnt by professionals. One of the downsides however is the lack of systematic research on critical reflection (and its many different meanings), so that it is difficult to pinpoint its many benefits and exactly how they are achieved. Given that the claims about its benefits are many and varied, it is also difficult to establish consensus on how it should be researched, and indeed what exactly is researched. This means it is problematic to improve how critical reflection is taught and practised in a rigorous and transferable way.

This work is timely for several reasons: professionals across sectors work in increasingly complex and changing organisations that produce ambiguity and challenges to practice. Professionals need ways to deal with change and critical reflection provides one method for being able to incorporate changes in a way which allows individuals to preserve a sense of what is fundamentally important to them as professionals. Since many different professionals work together in most organisations, research is needed to help us understand what approaches and methods are best for professionals in different settings.

The book aims to contribute to the development of the research aspect of critical reflection in professional practice (what is researched, how it is researched and how it might be used as a research method) so that it might be taught, learnt and practised better. It is based on some of the papers delivered in a seminar series funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Some of these papers have been included below, and others have been added to develop a more comprehensive multi-disciplinary view of the current state of critical reflection and the research directions which need to be taken.

This involves:

1. Providing an overview of different perspectives on critical reflection and
stimulating dialogue between them. This will contribute to better possibilities for multi-perspectival research.

2. Establishing some common platforms from which to develop further research directions.
3. Identifying some common themes which require further research.

4. Providing a forum to chart and discuss the evidence base for critical reflection.

5. Identifying the major issues in evaluating critical reflection teaching, and main methods for doing so.

6. Contributing to social science methodological innovations by exploring newer methods for researching professional practice, in particular using methods based on critical reflection.

Contributions are multi-disciplinary and represent the areas of education, management, health and social work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching critical reflection : multidisciplinary perspectives
EditorsJan Fook, Val Collington, Fiona Ross, Gillian Ruch, Linden West
Number of pages12
Place of publicationAbingdon
PublisherRoutledge
Publication year1 Jan 2016
Pages145-157
Chapter12
ISBN (print)9781138825185
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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