Contrasts and Similarities in Case Studies of Teacher Reflection and Change

Marilyn Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study followed three elementary classroom teachers through a two-year master's degree program and for two years following. All three teachers became more reflective and yet there were significant differences in how this occurred as well as how reflective thinking was interactive with changes in their beliefs and teaching practices. The teachers all became more complex in their thinking, but they differed in how much they valued this. There was interesting variation in how reflection interacted with changes they made or did not make in their classroom practice. The case studies demonstrate how individuals' background experiences, beliefs, and personalities influence what they take from programs of study. The paper uses metaphors constructed by the teachers to frame the interpretations. Initially, they guided the researcher's construction of interpretations; over time they provided a focal point for constructing collaborative interpretations. The collaborative methodology that evolved in the project extended the understandings of both researcher and participants. If the research objective is to better understand how teachers construct meanings and reflect on them, such methods may be required if we are to have more than an outsider's view of teacher reflection. The results point to the complexity of becoming more reflective and to the individual variations to be expected from educational efforts to encourage it. We caution against overgeneralized descriptions of the development of reflective thinking and suggest the usefulness of case studies to examine such complexity and individual variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-26
Number of pages18
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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