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Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice
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Tuesday, June 16 • 1:30pm - 4:30pm
A reflective practice approach to professional development: The “reflective practicum”

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Schön’s (1983) concept of the “reflective practitioner” describes how professionals think in action. Argyris and Schön’s (1974) concept of “theories of action” suggests we design our actions to achieve our intentions, and we have theories, not necessarily explicit, about how to act effectively. By reflecting on how we were thinking in action, particularly in difficult interpersonal situations, we can make explicit our “theories-in-use,” the values and strategies we are actually using to design our interactions. Schön used “reflective practicum” to describe this type of learning experience.

Almost everyone espouses the importance of generating valid information about “difficult situations” so that we can make the best choice about how to act in order to “solve the problem” effectively. However, in difficult interpersonal situations we often don’t “practice what we preach” – we are not transparent about our thoughts and feelings, the strategies we are using, nor are we curious about the other person’s views of the situation, and of our thinking. We espouse “mutual learning” but we are “unilateral” (Schwarz, 2002). The result is often mistrust, misunderstanding and little learning or change.

This “theory-of-action approach to reflective practice” (Smith, 2012) has been successfully applied to professional development to create “reflective practicums” in short workshops (3-6 hours) with faculty, and over an eleven-year project with health care professionals. In this workshop we will examine the theoretical framework underlying this approach (values, assumptions and strategies), and apply it to participants’ cases about difficult interpersonal situations in their teaching or educational development experiences generated before and/or during the workshop.


Ron Smith

Concordia Univeristy
Dr. Ron Smith is a Professor Emeritus, Education Department Concordia University and a 3M National Teaching Fellow. He is the Past-Chair of the 3M Council and has served on the adjudication for the 3M.

Tuesday June 16, 2015 1:30pm - 4:30pm PDT
Thompson Room

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