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Background: Even though the positive potential of reflective practice is widely acknowledged across professional fields, it has been recognized that reflective practice may be carried out primarily as an individual-based exercise, and at the technical or descriptive level without generative impact. Dialogic reflective processes involving both evaluators and program directors are far from being systematically implemented or examined.
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to share our experiences engaging in dialogic and generative reflections as the project director and program evaluators of a K-12 teacher education program using the critical appreciative process. Building upon the reflective practice traditions in both disciplinary areas, we introduce the use of the critical appreciative process as a promising model to guide dialogic and generative reflection to support the co-design and improvement of the program and accompanying evaluation efforts.
Setting: The project director and evaluators are engaged in a grant-funded teacher preparation project designed to prepare teachers for K-12 English learners and dual language learners. The project builds upon partnerships between the university teacher preparation program and two local school districts. The evaluation plan was designed based on culturally responsive, collaborative, and use-focused evaluation approaches and theory. In 2020, the project team faced critical decisions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Intervention: Not applicable.
Research Design: We applied self-study methodology to guide data collection and analysis in this study. The primary data source included individual written reflections and group critical friend dialogues guided by the critical appreciative process. Both the reflections and meeting notes were analyzed to identify convergent and divergent perspectives shared throughout the critical appreciative process and to highlight implications for both the evaluation and the program moving forward.
Findings: Convergent and divergent perspectives from both the project director and the evaluators were shared based on the 4-D critical appreciative process: Discover, Dream, Design, and Deliver. Based on this shared experience, we illustrate how the dialogic reflective process entails reflexivity and requires pausing; how reflective practice in program evaluation situates our dialogues as learning-oriented rather than a mere accountability discussion; and how reflective action can create a dialogic and generative virtuous cycle.
Keywords: reflective practice; evaluation; critical appreciative process
Copyright 2016 Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Western Michigan University.