ISSN 2410-5708 / e-ISSN 2313-7215

Year 9 | No. 25 | p. 162 - 176 | June - September 2020


State of the art: reflective learning in initial formation with students of Professional Training Practices in the English major


Submitted on October 27, 2019 / Accepted on April 21, 2020

M.A. Skarlet Romero Espinoza

Higher Education Methodology and Didactics

UNAN-Managua, FAREM-Carazo


Keywords: reflexive learning, initial formation, practices, vocational training


The development of reflexive learning and professional practice have become two main axis in the initial training of the student. This article explains why learning processes allow to solve situations of aulico work, which is built and transformed during vocational training practices relating reflexive learning, initial training of the student with the role of pedagogical practices (as a teacher in training, tutor or guide).


The educational sector has become interested in the subject of reflective practice, but its implementation in professional practices is quite a challenge. Professional practices make up an important part of vocational training, since they help develop insertion into classroom work, they are linked to an instrumental set of activities and to specific knowledge in managing the dynamics of a class.

Therefore, professional practices constitute a coherent interdependent entity within the teacher training curriculum, allowing the practitioner to communicate with institutionalized actions within and outside the university environment, produced in a variety of settings in which the teacher observes, intervenes, reflects, reconstructs and values realities in its complexity; fact that requires a series of conceptual, procedural and attitudinal tools with the intention of gradually building his or her identity as a teacher.

Consequently, the separation between theory and practice in initial teacher training is formulated by those who express it with greater conviction, it still remains to privilege theoretical training. The application of the reflective model is the way that makes it possible to understand the link between theory and practice and in this close relationship theoretical-practical knowledge is generated, training in reflection makes an analysis of theoretical-practical knowledge towards the revision of their own conceptions about education, their own experiences and the relationship with implementation. The aim is to train critical, responsible, reflective, ethical teachers who are capable of generating pedagogical spaces.

In relation to the above, the implementation of the learning of the reflective model is proposed, this will help to improve the practices making use of the reflective strategies such as the class diaries and the portfolios where they will write their reflections about their own experiences in the educational environment facilitating the teaching-learning process.

Stenhouse (1997) defines that during the course of the studies of a career the bridge between the theoretical and the practical constitutes the curriculum. Thus, students, when moving through the different curricular components, and in this case, the professional practices component, have the possibility of approaching theory and practice to nurture one another and in that exchange understand the transformative and transformable character of the educational process, as long as they approach it from reflection.

Let us dwell a little on the idea of reflection from practice, which allows students to reflect from their practices in the classroom, by participating in the educational reality, to understand its meaning and scope. Therefore, it is necessary to make the decision to train students in reflective practice, empowering them to work in the classroom.

Presenting the state of the art referring to the existing connection that is made of the subject, reflective learning in initial formation with students from professional training, is the main objective of this article, when finding those theoretical contributions that, put into practice, can contribute to classroom work in initial teacher training.

Some theoretical foundations are considered, as well as some investigative works related to the issues in question, developed in some Latin American countries such as Colombia, Chile, Mexico. This section presents a section about the concepts of reflection, a second section dedicated to literature, where the conceptual difference between Professional Teaching Practices and university practices is addressed, a third section, the marginal place occupied by Professional Practices within the teacher training scenario followed by some related studies and conclusions.


Reflective learning in initial formation

Reflective learning is a training model that is based on the sociocultural theories of human learning. Allwright (2005), Alsina (2007), Brockbank and McGill (2002), Esteve (2004) and Esteve, Melief and Alsina (2010), point out that some representative features of reflective learning, or learning from practice, are the interaction, reflection and contrast in order to build and reconstruct knowledge.

According to Dewey (1989), the reflective teacher is characterized by having an open mind and being sincere, it wonders about the reasons that determine its actions and the consequences thereof, taking responsibility for the results, it is not satisfied with the achievement of the objectives but questions whether the results are satisfactory, and the reflection is done before, during and after the action.

As the author points out, teachers have to be honest, loyal, responsible with their teaching work, since our actions affect students.

Zeichner (1993) defines that reflection from practice is based on two basic principles. The first recognizes the professional status of educators and their leading role in the teaching and learning process; the second establishes the capacity of teachers to generate pedagogical knowledge. From this perspective, teachers’ knowledge is useful and serves not only to develop practical knowledge but to investigate their practice and produce theoretical knowledge, they do not have to limit themselves to applying ideas created by others.

It should be noted that students reflect on their own educational practices it would be convincing for them to share their experiences with other classmates to value their learning.

Villar (1999) also expresses his vision of the reflective teacher emphasizing the affective, moral and social aspects of its practice: Becoming a reflective teacher means and implies something more than the intellectual probity of using cognitive processes of internal analysis of curricular phenomena and educational. It also includes the performance of affective and moral activities in the classrooms of schools, in the school community and in socio-political associations. (p. 22).

Liston and Zeichner (1997) affirm a proposal for reflective teaching, organized in five components:

Teaching. Activity in which the student practitioner comes into contact with reality and becomes responsible for the class; in this space, he or she becomes aware of the implicit assumptions of the curriculum, discovers and articulates them, and in turn, makes proposals and adjustments according to the needs of the classroom context.

The research. It enables students in internships to locate in socio-historical contexts, in addition, to develop capacities to investigate their own work and acquire knowledge about school culture. From this analysis they propose the elaboration of research-action projects, ethnographic studies and curricular analysis projects. It is, then, a collaborative work between tutors and internship advisers, as well as peer support.

The graduation course. Research-related strategies are jointly planned and focus on various issues such as hidden curriculum, cooperative learning, assessment, teaching and learning processes. They arise from the experiences of the practitioners in the schools, also from readings on experiences written by teachers and students from previous semesters with the intention of building diverse perspectives on certain educational problems.

The practice journals. Qualitative instrument where students reflect their impressions, reflections and their evolution as teachers; they are a very important means of generating reflection processes.

Tutoring. Process that emphasizes the social conditions of the groups of students in internships and their learning opportunities, establishing meetings prior to class observations, accompaniment and subsequent interviews to assess and evaluate the crucial moments of the didactic-pedagogical experiences carried out.

It is worth mentioning that reflection and criticism will have the obligation to improve the social, political and cultural conditions of societies, based on active and solidary participation aimed at achieving transformative and innovative processes. This will be a great challenge for education.

Perrenoud (2004) affirms that in today’s societies transformations occur rapidly; technologies, communication are constantly changing, people live surrounded by paradoxes, therefore, it is up to the educator to prepare for a reflective practice, stimulating innovation and cooperation. In this way, the reflective and critical competences must be worked from the initial formation and gradually form mental schemes with which the student will find a foothold in the near future to interpret and intervene in educational reality.

Therefore, the teacher has the responsibility to prepare for a reflective practice in order to prepare students for their initial training, it is necessary for teachers to constantly prepare themselves for the change from day to day to improve pedagogical scenarios and intervene in educational reality.

Schön (1992) “Advocates a process for developing reflection in action, beginning with providing subjects with technical training, progressing in supporting them to think like professionals and, finally, allowing them to develop new ways of understanding action”.

Donald Schön, (1992) for his part, highlights the social character of the implicit knowledge of teachers through the notion of “practicum”. From a constructivist point of view, he points out, our emotions, appreciations and beliefs have their roots in the worlds that we ourselves form and that we end up accessing as reality. Practice is learned, says Shön through inclusion in a particular practicum. When someone learns a practice, it begins in the community of practitioners and the world of practice that they inhabit. Learn their perceptions, appreciations, limitations, languages.

Regarding this reflective practice, the investigation has shown a significant increase in recent years. To the works of Villar (1999); Korthagen (1996); Stenhouse (1997); Perrenoud (1996); Zeichner (1993); Liston and Zeichner (1997); Diker and Terigi (1997); Tardif (1997); Zabalza (1998); Carr and Kemis (1988) who have approached the investigation of reflective practices focusing their attention especially on the models and processes of teacher professional development and teacher training, are now joined by Allwrigh (2005); Brockbank and Mcgill (2002); Sayago (2006); Alsina (2007); Perrenoud (2004); Lee (2005); Chacon (2003); Domingo (2013)); Catellanos (2017) among many others, most of them linked to the debate around the construction of didactic and professional knowledge.

All the works go back or have as obligatory reference the contributions of two authors that emerge as the pillars of the approach: John Dewey and Donald Schön. The contributions of the research aim predominantly to establish distinctions between different types, content and levels of reflection, the processes through which this so-called “reflective metacompetence” is acquired and developed, and to enunciate its connection with certain social conditions of professional exercise. The idea, says Korthagen (1996), that the teacher can learn to subject his own behavior to critical analysis and take responsibility for his actions, finding the necessary great filter for a kind of teaching that transcends simple training and the use of skills behavioral specifics, systematic and rational decision-making, is linked to the heart of professionalization. This explains “not only the popularity of the reflection but also the way the term has been interpreted by various authors” (p. 317).

Accordingly, Korthagen (2001) expresses: “to design the phases of the formative activity, we start from the reflexive cycle called ALACT, from the initials of the English terms Action, Looking back to the action, Awareness of essential aspects, Creating alternative methods of action and Trial “


Figure 1. Training process to promote the reflective cycle. Source: (Korthagen, 2001)

Figure 1 describes this cyclical process in five phases: 1. Action or experience (A); 2. Looking back at the action (L); 3. Knowledge of an essential aspect (a); 4. Creating alternative methods of action (C); 5. Check in a new situation (T) and start a new cycle, this is oriented under the reflective model ALACT.

Therefore, it is necessary that the students know the phases of the reflective cycle so that they develop new forms of action in the educational environment, providing accompaniment before, during and at the end of the practices.

The conceptual difference between Professional Teaching Practices and internships

In Professional Practices, conceptions of teaching models, learning, teacher training traditions, management modalities, administration of school institutions and the characteristics of the sociocultural context also coincide. In this representation, they open up a range of possibilities for the student, who critically analyzes their performance as an apprentice and as a teacher, at the same time has the opportunity to discuss, contrast and reconstruct the teaching experience, assuming it as an object of analysis.

The Practices lead to comprehensive actions directly in the shaping of professionalism, aim to reaffirm the aims and purposes established in the curriculum, therefore they are part of a timely terrain in the treatment of problems to be studied and reflected on, whose orientation is to improve the profile and professional performance of those who are trained as teachers.

On the other hand, the condition of Professional leads to consider certain characteristic features. According to authors such as Carr and Kemmis (1988) and Pérez (1993), they are summarized as follows: “When Practice is referred to as a Professional action, it is presumed that at the base of the subjects in training there is some idea about teaching in the field of methods, along with notions about the provenance of knowledge. This action is sustained in a theoretical body of knowledge and requires a period of academic training”

The definition of a Practice as a Professional transcends the acquisition of abilities and skills or practical competences, is to acquire values, interests and attitudes that characterize the profession.

To conceive the Practice as a Professional, is in turn to accept it as the Axis of teacher training. In this case, future teachers must have the necessary knowledge to teach and possess competencies and skills, analyze their practice and be aware of the ethical-value implications of teaching.

The previous ideas explain the features of the practices, how each learner interprets the idea of vocational training and the concept of practice, given that teachers must have knowledge to teach new methodologies and skills so that the student develops ethical values of teaching.

The marginal place that Professional Practices occupy within the scenario of teacher training.

In the university context, Professional Practices occupy a marginal place in the field of theoretical discussion, if you like, they are underestimated in terms of the position they occupy within the educational field. Therefore, it has fallen into the error of placing them in a unique perspective, exclusivist operating in isolation, separated from all social mediation with different cultural contexts and multidisciplinary connections. Practices are generally short periods in which the student facilitates and applies previously agreed knowledge, providing an acceptable performance in the classroom. This idea attributes to practices in sustained experiences with reproductive behaviors of schemes and teaching routines.

In relation to this point, it is appropriate to highlight the criterion of Diker and Terigi (1997, p. 224). When they affirm “the Practice must be the red thread, the objectives on which one works constantly”. Similarly, with criteria such as that of Zabalza (1998) in whose words the Practices should become an important part of initial formation, since they begin the process of approaching real situations of teaching and learning from various purposes at the same time: as a point of reference and contrast, application and review of theoretical knowledge offered in the different disciplines of the study plan and to reflect on them. Another of the criteria is that of Schön (1995, p. 8) who considers that Professional Practice is the “competence of a unit of practitioners who share [...] the traditions of a profession, that is, conventions of action, language and media, repertoires, valuation system, limitations, examples, systematic knowledge and its patterns of knowledge in action”.

Finally, critical reflection maintains that research and reflection are carried out in order to transform practice, challenging the social conditions of the teaching experience, conceiving it like the two previous traditions - as a tool at the service of improving practice, but from a social and contextual approach that emphasizes transformation (Zeichner, 1993).

For their part, Liston and Zeichner (1997) assign the Practices a constant learning function in teaching that exceeds the demonstration and application of knowledge and techniques acquired by the education student during the training journey. In this conception, it is a matter of prioritizing self-reflection and valuation for actions carried out in environments of mutual respect and establishing collaborative relationships between school teachers and practitioners. In short, they are stimulating experiences towards self-knowledge and the ability to permanently learn from each participant.

Another important aspect that should be highlighted is that the practices must be given due importance from the initial training, based on the fact that the tutor has the responsibility of providing the necessary accompaniment and the necessary tools for the practitioner to function in the educational community, so that you can make your own self-reflection, so that you have an environment of mutual respect between the teacher and the learner and collaborative relationships in pedagogical spaces.

Insufficient reflective processes in the Axis of Professional Practices

The Professional Practices should be linked to the whole process of training in secondary and higher education since they integrate the objectives of the different training areas, their frame of reference remains only in the management of skills and abilities, this condition tends to lose view of the links between the various components of the curriculum. Traditionally, the predominant idea is to assume ruled and predetermined guidelines towards the discipline of an instrumental practice, reducing it to being one of the few constructs that has remained almost unwavering in the face of constantly changing social dynamics.

The Professional Practices, as well as the main curricular axis level of concretion, could constitute the articulating vehicle for reflection during the training process in order to strengthen the practical theory relationship; This means guaranteeing the possibility of reconstructing theory from the field of action, which implies the construction of professional knowledge and facilitates the acquisition of skills to consolidate a critical, reflective and autonomous teacher. Paradoxically, studies carried out by Sayago (2003) and Chacón (2003), demonstrate the evident disconnection between theory-practice in the initial formation of the Integral Basic Education career, and the Axis Workshops seem to be dissimilar fields and without any relationship with the disciplines.

From the above, the author expresses that there is no connection with theory and practice in initial training, which is why he proposes the reflective model where learning will be of critical-reflective training where the student builds his own knowledge. Reflective practice conceives teaching work closer to art than science, valuing that applied and technical sciences are necessary but insufficient for this action.

Socio-critical and social reconstructionist approaches promote stimulating knowledge in students, help them to free themselves from their traditional beliefs and values of interpreting the teaching exercise. According to this approach, practices interpret theory and practice as mutually constituted and dialectically related fields (Carr, 1996). The Practices have an implicit theory and every theory calls for a way of doing and performing. Campillo (1999. p. 133) referring to this approach, includes the Habermasian perspective, when he points out that the relationships established by the students in the Internship period are “eminently communicative actions, which the students carry out while they think, reflect, speak, argue, They prepare their speeches, they value what they have learned, they improve and they reach consensus and all of this is action”. In other words, the theory-practice relationship does not act separately, on the contrary, it deserves another angle of analysis, it is a practical dialectical relationship, theory and practice.

The emergence of complex thinking: a new paradigm

The multidimensionality of knowledge, social demands and the phenomenon of globalization demands greater efforts when educating, it is not enough to know, it is about learning to learn in a world of constant challenges, it is understanding the subjects, it is teaching them to choose to learn. It is to assume the educational from the complexity, since the development of a higher order thought contributed to understand the globality and plurality of the current societies. It is an attempt to resize the attitude towards the organization of knowledge; that is, to rethink it from interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives in an effort to make sense of the need to train subjects with critical and creative thinking (Morin, 2000).

The proposal of complex thinking makes sense in teacher training, to consider the state of fragmentation of knowledge in strongly structured disciplines; determining issue in the isolation of theory and practice. Morín Alert (2000, p. 15), that this division, “stunts the possibilities of understanding and reflection, also eliminating the opportunities for a corrective judgment or long-term vision.” Furthermore, Lipman (1997) considers the urgency of promoting the development of complex thinking as a globalizing entity of critical, reflective thought, and rich in metacognitive or self-correcting resources that undoubtedly favor reflection processes, and can contribute to reinventing the practices of teaching and direct them towards more humane and relevant routes with the competences required of educators today.

The above details that complex thinking makes sense in teacher training, where it promotes critical-reflective thinking where metacognitive or self-correction is developed, where they help the teaching-learning process to guide practices to be more humane in today.

In other words, it requires a teacher with critical thinking, promoter of actions to understand and question reality and help transform it for the common good, therefore, we affirm with Mayor, Suengas and González (1995) that critical thinking is rational, it implies the abilities to recognize problems, assumptions, contradictions, problematizes the very structure of thought and is in a position to contrast with other thoughts; therefore, it is necessary that Education students acquire tools that help them develop reflective and critical thinking. This indicates that they can understand the complexity of the classroom and the school context.

On this basis, it is appropriate to ask what the university does to train future educators from a reflective and critical perspective? Introducing ourselves in the possible answers, leads us to mention some research. Diker and Terigi (1997) affirm that initial training is scarcely linked to the reality of schools, therefore graduates describe difficulties and ignorance in relation to didactic aspects, related to content, planning, evaluation and group leadership of class.

On the other hand, Lee (2005) carried out a study on the reflective thinking of the students of mathematical practices in Korea, under the qualitative paradigm, using the interview, the open questionnaire and the students’ diaries during the practice period. The author concludes that student practitioners progressed to higher levels of reflective thinking during practice, even though she acknowledges that achieving this is a difficult and unfinished task. Likewise, the study shows the influence of the advising professors in the teaching strategies and in the reflective processes.

According to the author, the practices will have more progress when the reflective model is reached, since it is not an easy task, but achievable with the implementation path.

An important contribution is that of Castellanos (2017) who affirms that the teacher becomes a reflective practical professional insofar as it means willingness to perceive the practice as problematic, identifies problematic situations in his or her teaching performance, distances itself from them to make explicit and eliminate elements that condition it, and it opens up to other sources to interpret and respond to them. In this way, we consider reflection as a responsible and systematic thought process that arises from a problematic situation that requires a willingness to analyze teaching practice, in order to signify knowledge, to understand it and to act in the face of such practice situations.

From the contributions of other studies, we attend to the categories that emerge from the study where we add some features. “We specify the features referred to six sub-categories: origin and nature of the situation; definition, dilemmas and focus of the problem “(Castellanos, 2017).

The methodologies of these investigations frame that the qualitative and interpretive approach is oriented to the search for the personal meaning of the events; the study of interactions between people and the environment; as well as the thoughts, attitudes and perceptions of the participants.

Therefore the research results show that reflective diaries, debate, observation logs, content analysis techniques, ATLAC training model could improve reflective practice implementation.

The approaches of recent literature: evaluations, experiences and analysis of the methodological approach

Five documents describe the pedagogical reflection in students of careers of educational sciences, through measurements. The predominant conceptual framework is that of critical reflection, using more direct strategies such as qualitative research such as written production, documentary analysis and reflective journals and portfolios as a product review.

Therefore, the need arises to consider new elements, factors or variables capable of impacting reflexive development, which up to now seem not to be defined in the understandings of the phenomenon, such as those of a sociopolitical nature; At the same time, the need to transcend research on isolated experiences and deepen research aimed at capturing critical elements for reflective development and new ways in which reflection brings experience closer, is transformed into professional knowledge and modifies practice.

Table 1. The revised documents



Title /Article




Castellano S.


Sentido otorgado a las situaciones de la práctica docente: Un estudio con profesores en formación



Episteme y




Olate y Castillo


Desarrollo de procesos reflexivos desde la percepción de estudiantes de enfermería

Revista de






El aprendizaje reflexivo en la formación inicial del profesorado: un modelo para enseñar matemáticas



del caribe





Practica reflexiva como estrategia de desarrollo profesional: presencia y estructuras en reuniones docentes






Sayago y Chacón


Las prácticas profesionales en la formación docente: hacia un nuevo diario de ruta




Source: Own Elaboration


To conclude, we emphasize the responsibility of those who train teachers and those who are trained to teach, to create pedagogical spaces that favor being reflective, and that reflection from professional training practices is essentially a way of being. Therefore, it is necessary to implement reflective learning in contexts of innovation of reflective methodologies with a teaching approach to the practice of reflection where teachers are the facilitators and guides of this process.

Therefore, a positive perception of reflective learning stands out, assuming that it will be maintained over time, and assigning it a comprehensive and comprehensive benefit, both at the level of professional training, future professional practice and also on a personal level.

Through these research contributions, it was possible to reflect the areas of student development that are empirically addressed at the teaching level and that when exploring them, spaces not considered arise. Therefore it is relevant to achieve the development of reflective and learning processes, as individual and simultaneous processes, in which each one evolves differently, but in turn mutually influence each other. Similarly, the development of reflective processes generates in students a series of reactions at the level of behavior, interactions, thoughts and emotions, depending on the individual characteristics of the student and the level of development of their reflective learning.

Therefore, the need arises to consider new elements, factors or variables capable of impacting reflexive development, which until now seem not to be defined in the understandings of the phenomenon, such as those of a sociopolitical nature; At the same time, the need to transcend research on isolated experiences and deepen research aimed at capturing critical elements for reflective development and new ways in which reflection brings experience closer, is transformed into professional knowledge and modifies practice. .

“Reflective practice is a personalistic training modality for understanding training from the perspective of the person, which starts from its uniqueness and for deeply interweaving personal development with professional development” (Domingo, 2013, p. 386).


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