Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 10 sessions for 2 weeks, 3 hours / session

Course Description and Objective

The course is an introduction to the approach of Reflective Practice developed by Donald Schön. Reflective practice is an approach that enables professionals to understand how they use their knowledge in practical situations and how they combine action and learning in a more effective way. Through greater awareness and reflection, professionals are able to identify the knowledge that is embedded in the experience of their work so that they can improve their actions in a timely way, and achieve greater flexibility and conceptual innovation.

The objective of the course is to introduce students to the approach and methods of reflective practice by raising their awareness about their own cognitive resources and how they use them in their practice. The course will introduce theories of learning and knowledge generation and provide students with opportunities to experiment with these theories in real life through practical exercises in which they reflect on real situations that they have faced in their past professional experience. Through these practical exercises, students will “reflect on the reflection-in-action of practice.”

The conceptual basis for the course will be the works of Donald Schön, Chris Argyris, Martin Rein, John Dewey, Ikujiro Nonaka, Joseph Realin, and Michael Polanyi, among others.

The main topics that will be covered are:

  • The espoused-theory and theory-in-use and their function in natural thinking,
  • The reflection in and on action and their roles in developing reflective skills,
  • The virtual world and its role in the dialogue that support creative work,
  • The tacit and explicit dimensions of knowledge, and the importance of making tacit elements of knowledge explicit,
  • The learning cycles and how they impact on our understanding of complex problems,
  • The concept of reframing and its importance for creating new conceptual frameworks, solving controversies and inventing new strategies,
  • The conceptual learning and its importance for the practitioners in the 21st century, and
  • Some other concepts that the student may require for learning reflective practice.


The course will be based on the learning process of the students in exercises of reflection about their practice, both as professionals or as students, and about their experience reflecting on their reflection methods. They will carry out exercises of reflection on those experiences and will draw both practical lessons and insights about the concepts and methods of reflective practice they apply. Some reflective and reframing methods will be introduced as a resource for carrying out those exercises.

The course will consist of ten classes of three hours. The basic format of each class will be:

  1. A brief introduction to the core concepts of the theme of the day, approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Instructions for a practical exercise, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. The carrying out of the exercise, 90 to 120 minutes.
  4. The discussion of the exercise and reflection about the experiences and return to the concepts discussed in the first part, 30 to 45 minutes.

The aforementioned class format may vary depending on the specific processes used in the practical exercises or the presence of special speakers who may be invited to provide insights on certain topics.

Course Requirements

An average of two article- or chapter-length readings will be assigned each session, to be read before the session for which they are assigned. Reading assignments are specified for each class in the course syllabus. Optional readings are also listed and students are encouraged to read or skim these materials as well. Reading assignments are from the required course book, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action by Donald Schön, and a photocopied packet of reading materials.

For those classes in which preparation for the practical in-class exercises is necessary, students will also be assigned a short reflection exercise to be completed before the class session. Students should attend class regularly and be prepared to participate in the practical exercises and contribute to class discussions.

At the end of the course, students will prepare one paper, of up to 5 double-spaced pages, in which they will identify the most important lessons or knowledge gained from the course and how they intend to use these in their future professional work and/or development. This reflection paper will be a written individual work, but once the students finish it, they will be invited to share their conclusions with their peers and their instructors.


Grading will be pass or fail and will be based on participation in class; knowledge of course materials as reflected in class discussions, practical exercises and final paper; and attendance. Attendance in class is obligatory.

Course Info

As Taught In
January IAP 2007
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments