Evaluating First Year Agriculture Teachers’ Use of Reflection
Reflection is a useful tool which improves teaching approaches; however, many first-year teachers do not appear to reflect upon their instructional plans (McAlpine & Weston, 2000). Prior research has indicated preservice teachers are not utilizing the acquired reflective approaches learned throughout the teacher preparation program (Hatton & Smith, 1995; Kagan & Tippins, 1992; Reynolds, 1993). It is believed teachers fail to implement reflective practice in their professional practice because they have not acquired the pedagogical knowledge to effectively reflect (McAlpine & Weston, 2000). The primary purpose of this study was to determine if beginning agricultural education teachers employed a systematic approach of reflection, determine what components of the teacher preparation program aided in learning, how to reflect, and to examine first-year teachers’ gratification with the reflective approaches learned from Iowa State University agricultural education teacher preparation program. The study drew on the theoretical framework of John Dewey and Donald Schon in support of reflection throughout an educator’s professional teaching career. This qualitative study consisted of phone interviews with six first-year secondary teachers who graduated from the teacher preparation program. All first-year teachers employed a systematic reflection approach and preferred the following approaches to reflection: written reflection, verbal reflection, or through internal dialogue. First-year teachers indicated they learned how to reflect from student teaching, the tuning protocol process, and in core classes. However, they indicated preservice teachers need more exposure to reflection during their student teaching experience and throughout coursework.