Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Conference

Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

June 19 - June 22, 2013

Thursday, June 20 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
The disorienting dilemma: “teaching” critical reflection

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Gavan Watson (University of Guelph), Natasha Kenny (University of Guelph)
Critical reflection occurs when we analyze and challenge the validity of our prior assumptions and assess the appropriateness of our knowledge and beliefs given our present contexts (Mezirow, 1990). Critical reflection is so-called because it requires learners to become aware of and evaluate: personal values held; assumptions made; approaches taken; and implicitly held ideas. This skill helps to foster a deep and meaningful framework for lifelong learning within the context of higher education. University Teaching: Theory and Practice is a graduate course offered at the University of Guelph for credit. Opportunities for critical reflection are embedded throughout the course curriculum and intended to be the signature pedagogy. Despite continued efforts to scaffold the development of this skill, students provide us feedback that suggests that they struggle with a) developing their ability to critically reflect and b) recognizing the value of this skill.

In this interactive concurrent session, participants will use a case-based approach to explore the “disorienting dilemma” between the perceived value of critical reflection and the students’ struggle to effectively develop this skill. We will use small group discussion to analyze the issues, report on the literature surrounding teaching critical reflection and collectively develop strategies to effectively incorporate critical reflection in a course curriculum.


Mezirow, J. (1990). How critical reflection triggers transformative learning. In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning (pp. 1-20). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Thursday June 20, 2013 2:00pm - 3:00pm ADT
CE-326 Campus Extension Building

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