Moving from Personal Practice to Communities of Reflective Practice: A Model for Professional Development

Ó'Donnchadha, Brian (2012) Moving from Personal Practice to Communities of Reflective Practice: A Model for Professional Development. In: National Academy’s Sixth Annual Conference and the Fourth Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference. Threshold Concepts: from personal practice to communities of practice, 2012, June 28 - 29 2012, Trinity College Dublin., Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


Facilitating irreversible changes in perspective – changes which show the interconnectedness of phenomena and reveal troublesome knowledge - involve affective and cognitive change (Cousin, 2006). Yet, how can students be invited into liminal space to grasp threshold concepts unless those teaching them have lived in such a space? With the emphasis on life-long learning and continued professional development, are not academics expected to learn as they teach and research? Can it be assumed that only students experience a state of liminality, and if not how are academics assisted in a systematic manner through the oscillation of understanding towards an ‘aha moment’? In this presentation, Ó Donnchadha outlines how the use of pedagogies of engagement (such as community based learning) resembles threshold concepts insofar as they are transformative, irreversible, bounded and can lead to troublesome knowledge (Meyer and Land, 2003). Based on his recently completed doctoral thesis on the reflective practice of academics who use community-based learning, Ó Donnchadha discusses the relevance of his model of the Community of Reflective Practice to the examination of threshold concepts. A Community of Reflective Practice (CoRP) is a structured model of reflection which facilitates academics to critically reflect with their peers in a safe and nurturing environment on their academic, civic and personal development. The CoRP model examines the need for time, structure, communication skills and a knowledge of how to reflect deeply, in a safe space to address issues of discourse, space and criticality. The aim of such a forum is to contribute to and transform the personal, academic and civic development of the academic so as to support them in the role as facilitators of learning. Ó Donnchadha suggests that because the Community of Reflective Practice can address some of the practical and philosophical needs of civically engaged academics, it can have a broader application for those who use other forms of transformative learning, by providing a forum in which academics can move from personal practice to professional development. Cousin, G. (2006) An Introduction to threshold concepts. Planet, 17(December), 4-5. Meyer, J. H. F. and Land, R. (2003) Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practising within the disciplines, in: R. C. (Ed.) Improving Student Learning - Ten Years On. (Oxford, OCSLD), 1-16.

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