Similarities and Differences Betweeen Evidence Based Practice and Reflective Practice

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Within the field of education there is a range of methods and practices which have been implemented by professionals, in order to improve the provision for learners. Some of the methods adopted may be due to government legislation. An example of this is the National Curriculum. It was introduced to establish a consistent approach to the teaching of all children, in maintained schools. It gives guidance on what should be taught for particular age groups and a set of level descriptors are also included to assess children by. Other practices are developed, within a school context, to address particular areas in need of improvement. Evidence Based Practice (EBP) and Reflective Practice are two methods, used by teachers, to enhance the teaching and learning given to pupils.

A common form of EBP used within schools today is Action Research. It is a way of allowing teachers to use the classroom environment to explore how successful policy is in practice. Research can be obtained through in a range of ways including statistical data, observations and discussion. Once the research has been obtained it can inform future teaching by looking at the results and what they highlight. It not only enlightens the teaching knowledge of the individual practitioner but also other colleagues, as successful methods and ideas can then be shared. Policy then becomes more meaningful as it is no longer just a written document but is actively present in the classroom.

Reflective Practice is when a learner thinks about the way in which they learn (Moon 1999 p63). It is important to look at the term ‘reflection’ carefully. When we think about reflective practice it is not simply just looking at what is already there. It encourages practitioners to look into the future and think about what could happen and what possibilities there are. Originating with the work of Socrates, reflective practice has become an essential tool in education. Schön (1983) goes further and divides this into two distinct parts. The first is reflection-in-action. This process encourages practitioners to reflect while completing a piece of work or research. They do not simply try something and if it doesn’t work move on to something else, they change and adapt their method, while continuing to strive towards a solution. The reflection is an active part of what they are doing, a key factor in addressing problems or issues that may occur during the process. The knowledge that you may already have acquired from other tasks may not be sufficient to answer the new problems or questions that have arisen. Therefore, by using reflection-in-action, you are empowered to alter your thought process for a range of scenarios. Reflection-on-action happens at the end of a process. You look at what you have achieved and how you achieved it. You find out what was successful and how you dealt with problems that arose. This type of reflection would then inform future work.

“Action initiates reflection.”
(Leitch and Day 2000, p184)

Leitch and Day make an extremely important point. By looking at the methods associated with reflective practice it is clear to see how similar it is to evidence based practice. When teachers carry out a piece of research it would involve reflection-on-action. In a classroom setting it is virtually impossible to carry out a piece of research that doesn’t raise any issues or dilemmas along the way. The research would therefore need to be altered accordingly. This is a form of reflective practice working alongside Evidence Based Practice.

Moore (1999) and Hargreaves (1996) comment on the idea that teachers would need to have ‘a sound understanding of relevant educational theory and research’ (p127) in order to reflect on it successfully. I would strongly agree that teachers need to become the researchers and be actively involved in current research. This makes it more specific to the needs of their particular school and classroom. By engaging in research...
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