Reflective practice and action research as a source of pre-service and in-service professional development and classroom innovation: burden or benefit? myth or reality?
The concept of the teacher as reflective practitioner and teacher as researcher of his/her own classroom practice now has a long 20th and 21st century tradition and is promoted widely in the teacher education literature of recent years. But does it have real benefits for teacher skill development and innovation in classroom practice? This paper describes the outcomes of two research projects. The first examines the effectiveness of a reflective practice exercise carried out by both pre-service and inservice English teachers at AUT. The other follows the development of a collaborative action research project in which teachers reflected on and took steps to improve the teaching of casual conversation in their own classrooms. The paper will draw conclusions about the benefits and constraints for teachers of both reflective practice and the more formal action research, examining to what extent they help teachers to develop skills and encourage innovation in the classroom. Recommendations are made for future practice to support both reflective practice and its formalisation as action research.