Can teaching critical reflexivity be improved using metaphors? The hippo in the room

Gazdula, Joe ORCID: 0000-0002-2809-2600 (2016) Can teaching critical reflexivity be improved using metaphors? The hippo in the room. Educational Futures, 8 (1). pp. 35-49. ISSN 1758-2199

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This case study investigation reflects on the benefits of using metaphors to teach postgraduate educations students how to deal with personal bias, subjectivity and advocates critical reflexivity as a method for doing this. Students are reluctant to be critically reflective (Adriansen and Knudsen, 2013) as they can feel threatened by the reflective process (Borochowitz, 2005), feel they can sit apart or outside their research and write without bias (Gursti-Pepin and Patrizio, 2009) and/or feel critical reflection may damage their research findings, (Fook and Askeland, 2007). The paper explores the effectiveness of an approach to overcoming this reluctance by applying a metaphor from a research module in Zambia to a UK education class. In Zambia students discussed personal bias by likening it to an encounter with a dangerous unseen animal, and identified similarities with a hippopotamus. This animal is difficult to tame, dangerous, hard to deal with, can remain hidden for a long time, it appears unexpectedly, cannot be ignored, and awareness the main defence. Anecdotal reports suggested this improved the early adoption of critical reflexivity in their dissertations. This metaphor was then used as a key discussion point on a postdoctoral education programme in the UK and investigated using focus groups. Students reporting a greater understanding personal bias, recognition of the importance of being critically reflexive, and felt the metaphor of the hippo had been instrumental in their understanding and the use of Rokeachs’ personal values; morality, competency, personal and social behaviour, provided a supportive reflexive framework. Follow up research with supervisors showed an increase in the application of critical reflexivity early in the students research. This is underpinned by findings from Hoggan (2016) who researched the used of metaphors to help cancer patients explain difficult personal constructs about their condition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: critical reflexivity, metaphors, learning, analogies, education, research methods, teaching
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: School of Education and Psychology > Education
Off-Campus Division
Depositing User: Dr. J.H. Gazdula
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2016 15:43
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2019 13:04

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