Promoting reflection in professional courses: The challenge of context
Reflection and the promotion of reflective practice have become popular features of the design of educational programmes. This has often led to learning being more effectively facilitated. However, alongisde these positive initiatives have grown more disturbing developments under the general heading of reflection. They have involved both misconceptions of the nature of reflection which have led to instrumental or rule-following approaches to reflective activities, and the application of reflective strategies in ways which have sought inappropriate levels of disclosure from participants or involved otherwise unethical practices. The article examines the question: what constitutes the effective use of reflective activities? It argues that reflection needs to be flexibly deployed, that it is highly context-specific and that the social and cultural context in which reflection takes place has a powerful influence over what kinds of reflection it is possible to foster and the ways in which this might be done. The article concludes by exploring conditions in which reflective activities might appropriately be used in professional education.