Objectivizing Reflective Practice: A Quantitative Method

What the qualitative approach offers is depth and richness in information, but the value of this can be offset by the specificity of the source and its accompanying biases. Quantitative methods may therefore be superior, depending on the reflective practitioner’s intentions and which areas of development he/she is specifically targeting. 

Comparison is simpler with a quantitative method. Feedback is purposefully narrowed, with options assigned numerical values in Likert scale manner. Thus, feedback is speedier and more easily reckoned and aggregated, but depth is lost.

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Asterisks in negative response boxes function as alerts and encourage addition of supplementary (qualitative) data.

The quantitative method allows for a more perceptible appreciation of convergence and divergence between performance as perceived by learner and teacher. Degree of similarity and disparity on particular aspects of performance indicate where the teacher should apply resources and reflection, and, perhaps most importantly, reveals to the teacher those aspects of his/her performance about which his/her perception is most and least congruent with that of his/her learners. The quantitative method reveals perception fidelity with greater clarity than the qualitative method.

Using tables such as those above, the reflective practitioner can obtain a quantitative picture of his/her performance. For each statement, a numerical value can be derived (e.g. "Strongly Agree" = 5; "Strongly Disagree=1", etc.).

These values can then be plotted onto a polar (radar) diagram, with each arm of the diagram representing one statement. At-a-glance comparison is thereby achieved. Student feedback-derived values will of course be averages. With very high numbers of respondents and statements, descriptive statistics could also be used.

In the above example, it is clear that students and teacher gave highly contrasting responses to Statement 4, indicating markedly divergent perceptions on the matter of provision of sufficient information (see preceding tables for the statements). This gives the reflective practitioner a degree of direction that might otherwise have been lacking had his/her reflective account not been informed by learner input. This in turn directs the action plan more intelligently: the teacher is made aware of those aspects of his/her teaching that require most urgent repair.