Scaffolding Critical Reflectivity in Graduate Students


  • Stephanie Dodman Graduate School of Education
  • Nancy Holincheck Graduate School of Education
  • Becky Fox Graduate School of Education



pedagogy, reflective teaching practice, graduate student learning, curriculum design, Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL)


This presentation details findings from a study in the Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning (ASTL) program. We studied the development of critical reflectivity in our graduate students over the span of five courses. Critical reflection is the act of analyzing and challenging one's assumptions and predispositions. This act is often very difficult for students who have been socialized to consider their experiences at face value and not necessarily analyze the broader sociopolitical influences on, and consequences of, their actions and experiences (Brookfield, 1990). To foster critical reflection in students, ASTL's core courses actively engage students in formal inquiry. Faculty also explicitly teach students about critical reflection by introducing them to a three-tier model of inquiry that is continually returned to throughout their core coursework. We framed reflection as a tangible construct and a skill to be developed; this framing aided students in establishing critical reflection as a habit of mind. To examine the development of critical reflection, faculty collected and analyzed formal writings of students.

While conducting the study, the analysis also drove instructional changes. This ongoing research by faculty positions critical reflection as an endeavor undertaken by all, not just students. By systematically analyzing students' reflective writings, faculty found themselves engaging in critical reflection about their own practice.