Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. (Paul, Richard; Elder, Linda) Phil Washburn states “Critical thinking is the kind of thinking that enables a person to make a good decision. It is thinking about whether or not something you heard is true, or thinking about the best way to get your work done on time. Having a critical attitude means looking for some basis on which to judge something. (…) “To me, critical thinking is seeing relationship among things. Many different kinds of relationships. Understanding these relationships is the best way to improve your thinking. The nine basic elements are: comparing, generalizing, reasoning, judging sources, finding causes and effects, making value judgments, referring, assuming, and creating. (Washburn, Phil)
What is Reflection also known as Reflective Thinking?
What is Reflection? According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, REFLECTION is (1) “careful thought, or an idea or opinion based on this.”; (2) something that shows what something else is like, or that is a sign of a particular situation; (3) an image that you can see in a mirror, glass, or water. Many definitions of reflection (also known as Reflective Thinking) can be found. As early as 1933, Dewey defined reflection as ‘‘active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends’’. Reflection is an intentional action. A “demand for a solution of a perplexity is the steadying, guiding factor in the entire process of reflection” (Dewey,1933). Dewey adds “The function of reflective thought is, therefore, to transform a situation in which there is experienced obscurity, doubt, conflict, disturbance of some sort into a situation that is clear, coherent, settled, harmonious. Boud et al. (1985) define reflection as ‘‘a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to a new understanding and appreciation’’. Boud’s definition more explicitly focuses on one’s personal experience as the object of reflection, and is more explicit about the role of emotion in reflection. Schon (1983) introduced the concept of the ‘‘reflective practitioner’’ as one who uses reflection as a tool for revisiting experience both to learn from it and for the framing of murky, complex problems of professional practice. Similarly, reflective learning involves the processing of experience in a variety of ways. Learners explore their understanding of their actions and experience, and the impact of these on themselves and others. Meaning is constructed within a community of professional discourse, encouraging learners to achieve and maintain critical control over the more intuitive aspects of their experience. Gelter points out that despite its power to improve learning and practice, reflection does not seem to be a spontaneous activity in our professions or everyday life as we need to actively dedicate time and effort to make reflections. Reflection is not an everyday professional behaviour. The only spontaneous reflection we do is when something has gone wrong, when we fear failure or after a major life crisis. (Gelter, Hans)
Are Reflective Thinking and Critical Thinking similar or different?
Critical thinking and reflective thinking are often used synonymously. Critical thinking is used to describe: “… the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome…thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed – the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective for the particular context and type of thinking task. Critical thinking is sometimes called directed thinking because it focuses on a desired outcome.” (Halpern, Lisa) Reflective thinking, on the other hand, is a part of the critical thinking process referring specifically to the processes of analyzing and making judgments about what has happened. Dewey (1933) suggests that reflective thinking is an active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge, of the grounds that support that knowledge, and the further conclusions to which that knowledge leads. Learners are aware of and control their learning by actively participating in reflective thinking – assessing what they know, what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap – during learning situations. In summary, critical thinking involves a wide range of thinking skills leading toward desirable outcomes and reflective thinking focuses on the process of making judgments about what has happened. However, reflective thinking is most important in prompting learning during complex problem-solving situations because it provides students with an opportunity to step back and think about how they actually solve problems and how a particular set of problem solving strategies is appropriated for achieving their goal.
How critical reflection helps the Coach achieve the purpose of coaching conversation
The intention of the Coach during the Coaching Conversation, as described above, is to have the Client leave the conversation feeling freed up, with more hope, more confident in himself and in his competence, with more creative ideas, with a clearer view on possibilities and empowered to act. Julio Olalla points out “The coach’s main role deals with expanding the ability to see contexts, rather than supplying content. The person being coached then sees new ways to utilize existing skills.” (apud Bloom) One of the Coache’s role is to help the Client to think and to reflect. To think and to reflect before the action, during the action and after the action. A Coach is basically the Client’s reflective and thinking partner. The Coach is the Client’s sounding board. He helps the Client see the difference between their intentions and their thinking or actions. He helps the Client see the difference in his “espoused theory vs. theory-in-use”(*).
The Coach helps the Client cut through patterns of illusion and self-deception caused by defensive thinking and behavior. By doing this he helps the Client reach his goals. The Coach helps the Client have a clear understanding of his context, possibilities, goals and the means to achieve them. The Coach also challenges and confronts the Client helping the Client make sustained cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes that facilitate goal attainment and performance enhancement, either in one’s work or in one’s personal life. (* “espoused theory vs. theory in use” are Argyris and Schon’s concepts) Being a “Reflective thinking partner, Coaches engage individuals in reflective thinking by probing assumptions, hypothesizing about outcomes, challenging, serving as a sounding board, and providing different perspectives. This role can be especially helpful to Coaches as they review their Clients mental models and understanding of the world.” (Ting, Sharon and Riddle, Doug)