Reflection in professional practice: Perspectives and experiences of a group of corporate trainers in the UAE

Nayal, Mohammed (2023) Reflection in professional practice: Perspectives and experiences of a group of corporate trainers in the UAE. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Reflection has been extensively noted in the literature to be an essential practice for professional competency. As a result, training on reflection is included in preservice and professional development in various professions, including teaching, nursing, medicine, social work, the legal profession, and in the police force. However, within corporate training, there is little to no in-depth research on the notion of reflection, how it is understood, if it is used, and how it is practised.

This study aimed to address this literature gap by investigating how a group of nine UAE based corporate trainers conceptualised and used reflection within their professional practice. In addition, it aimed to recommend potential actions that could be taken to improve the use of reflection by corporate trainers. The study was situated within an interpretivist paradigm, and data was collected through oneon-one semi-structured interviews with each of the nine research participants, and an additional focus group with three research participants who were previously interviewed. The interviews and focus group were transcribed and analysed thematically. The data was then interpreted through a theoretical framework that drew on two sources: Donald Schön’s work on reflective practice, and the writings of Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky on higher mental functions.

Results showed that corporate trainers in the UAE conceptualised reflection as a tool for continuous development. By learning from past and present experiences, and by thinking about the future, corporate trainers were able to improve their individual skills and deal with professional challenges. While this finding is consistent with existing academic literature on reflection, several issues emerged that could be problematic for the professional development of corporate trainers. These issues include: the tendency for corporate trainers to view reflection through an individual centric lens; the absence of any evidence of critical reflection; and the lack of any formal training on the benefit and use of reflection.

Results also showed that the process of engaging in reflection, as described by the research participants, aligns with a Vygotskian model where reflection was first triggered by a realisation of a deficiency. The next step was a reconstruction of reality followed by an inner self-questioning phase. This was followed by a modelling exercise that took into consideration various future actions. The final two steps involved the development of a plan of action, followed by testing that action. A main finding from the analysis of reflection through a Vygotskian lens is the tendency of participants to favour self-dialogue over other mediational means.

Within corporate training, reflection can, and should, be enhanced. The first recommended action is the design and delivery of a series of workshops that raises awareness of the professional benefits of reflection and explains how it can be used more effectively. A second recommendation is to encourage corporate trainers to use additional mediational tools such as reflective writing, reflective duologues with a mentor, and co-training. The final recommendation is an initiative to encourage the establishment of a community of practice. A first step towards achieving this goal is the facilitation of monthly group reflection sessions in which corporate trainers can discuss challenges and best practices.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Doyle, Dr. Lesley and Patrick, Dr. Fiona
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83896
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2023 16:19
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 16:19
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83896

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