Framework for Reflective Learning Using Portfolios in Pre-Service Teacher Training

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  • Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3837 3841

    1877-0428 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Hseyin Uzunboylu doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.156


    Framework for reflective learning using portfolios in pre-service teacher training

    Ruhizan M. Yasin a *, Saemah Rahman a , Abdul Razak Ahmad a

    aUniversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Faculty of Educaton, Bangi Selangor, 43600, Malaysia


    The article presents a framework for the use of reflective learning portfolios in pre-lifelong learning knowledge and skills. The framework is used in the action research project as a continuous improvement of the csustainable development and lifelong learning.

    2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

    Keywords: Reflective Learning; Portfolio; Preservice Teacher Training; Education for Sustainable Development; Problem Oriented Project Based Learning; Lifelong Learning.

    1. Introduction

    The Life Sciences course in the Faculty of Education in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, was developed with the premise of promoting education for sustainable development (ESD) and sustainable education among pre-service teachers. ESD itself has two important concepts, which are sustainable development and sustainable education. Sustainable development is a concept first initiated by a delegation at the Agenda 21, which placed greater emphasis on the environment for social and economic well-being. ESD is an essential part of the larger conversation regarding the quality of life for all inhabitants of Earth (UNESCO, 2005) in which economic, social, and environmental factors must be considered in relation to one another. Therefore, it is about how education should be planned to serve real- life situations without compromising the societal and environmental values of future generations (WCED, 1987). Along the way, the concept has evolved to include more aspects of life (Ruhizan & Saemah, 2011), particularly social aspects through education.

    The course aims to develop and instil knowledge, attitudes, and skills for community engagement among pre-

    service teachers in realizing the objectives of education for sustainable development. The Problem-oriented Project-based Learning (POPBL) approach is used in the Life Sciences course with the aims of producing lifelong learners who are knowledgeable and responsible towards realizing a sustainable development agenda. The course was developed with five components of lifelong learning as its thrust: multidisciplinary, thinking system, partnership, multicultural perspective, and empowerment (Ruhizan & Saemah, 2011). All of these components were embedded

    * Ruhizan M. Yasin. Tel.: +6-03-89216275; fax: +6-0193345728. E-mail address:

    Available online at

    2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Hseyin Uzunboylu

  • 3838 Ruhizan M. Yasin et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3837 3841

    in various topics across the dimensions of work, family, and community that every individual experiences in his or her life. In this manner, the course is designed to allow students to experience real-life situations through the POPBL approach, as illustrated in Figure 1. The approach is student-centred; therefore, evaluation should be aligned with

    earning. The use of pencil and paper tests is not a good evaluation approach; a more authentic assessment is preferable for this course. Therefore, we proposed the accumulation of a portfolio based on several literatures with journal reflection as a means of

    appropriate term to explain the process in this context. Students of early adult age (21 years old) need more guidance for what they are doing and always seek feedback to compare themselves to mature adults. This paper discusses a

    is part of the intervention in action research to improve the teaching and learning practice at higher learning institutions, particularly in pre-service teacher training. Figure 1: Input, Process and Output of Life Sciences in Education

    2. Reflection: Cognitive Activity to Develop Deep Learning

    . We teachers are sometimes so eager to give tasks to students so that they will have some experience that we always assume learning will take place. Many literatures suggest that students need to be given some guidelines on which to reflect. Ash, et al (2005) proposed a DEAL model for critical reflection which consists of the following steps: Describe experience, Examine experience per learning objective (personal civic academic) and Articulate Learning in each category and across categories. Many researchers (Brockbank & McGill, 2007; Henderson, et al, 2004; Van Woerkom, 2010) believe that reflective learning offers practical values such as:

    It encourages deeper understanding (deep learning). It enables students to understand their own learning process. It helps the development of professionalism and lifelong learning.

    Formative Evaluation Problem Formulation: Student need to do research to justify the problem chosen

    Design and Data Collection

    Report Writing


    Group Formation Basic knowledge : by lectures and self-directed learning. - POPBL approach - SD & ESD - Service learning & Community Work - Effective Communication & Leadership - Entrepreneurial skills - Multicultural & Unity

    Learning Outcomes: - Acquire knowledge in SD and ESD

    - Transfer knowledge in designing and solving problems.

    - Work in teams and communicate with people in the community

    - Ability to work Independently

    - Creative & innovative

    Input Output Process

  • 3839 Ruhizan M. Yasin et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3837 3841

    It utilizes prior learning knowledge and focuses on constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing knowledge based on new experiences provided by learning environments that emphasize taking

    . It ensures that learning is not restricted to formal settings only, and that every experience is considered a

    learning experience. It provides new comprehensions, changed beliefs, and an altered attitude or emotional trait.

    In this study, the reflective learning concept is based on the categorization by Kember, et al (2000) of the continuum of nonreflection and reflection (Habitual action, understanding, reflection, and intensive reflection), as shown in Table 1 below.

    Table 1: The Nonreflection Reflection Continuum

    Nonreflection/Surface Learning Reflection/Deep Learning

    Habitual Action Understanding Reflection Intensive Reflection

    Minimal thought and engagement, correlated with a surface approach to learning specific tasks are treated as unrelated activities, memorization is emphasized, and an attitudinal state of nonreflectiveness is embodied

    Focuses on comprehension without reflection on personal experience or other learning situations. Book learning as being understanding-oriented in that the learner need only comprehend the read materials. Most of what is learned stays within the boundaries of preexisting perspectives

    Learning is related to personal experience and other knowledge. Reflection also involves challenging assumptions,seeking alternatives,identifying areas for improvement. Shows active and conscious engagement, characteristics commonly associated with a deep approach learning.

    Intensive reflection is at the higest level of the reflective learning hierarchy, and learners become aware of why they think, perceive,or act as they do. Learners might alter or even completely change firmly held beliefs and ways of thinking. Intensive reflection is thus seen as involving a change in personal beliefs

    3. Portfolio: An Authentic Assessment (Monitoring) Tool

    A portfolio is a collection of documents and other tangible evidence to show that one has gone through the process of learning. It also provides evidence of a developmental process, such as professional development. According to Zubizarreta (2004), a portfolio is a reflexive, evidence-based process that combines reflection and documentation. It engages students in an ongoing, reflective, and collaborative analysis of learning. It also focuses on purposeful, selective outcomes for both improving and assessing learning. Portfolios are widely used in art and design courses, but are still underutilized in other areas of higher education.

    To inculcate the culture of volunteerism through service learning, while applying concepts of sustainable development and sustainable education, teacher trainees have to go through all phases of POPBL (Problem Formulation, Design the Activity, Implementing the Activity, Analyze and Evaluate the Processes). For every stage, students experience the processes through searching for, gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information to constitute meaningful learning. The contents of an accumulated portfolio are not limited only to reflection elements

  • 3840 Ruhizan M. Yasin et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3837 3841

    in group projects, the application of topics in problem solving and decision making, and group dynamics (student-to-student interaction), as well as self-learning, students-lecturers/community interaction, and students-to-material/resources interaction. Besides these reflections, students should also select some documentation as evidence of their learning process.

    every week. Since the weekly meeting is conducted for 2 hours, lecturers will give feedback either verbally or in writing and sometimes online to selected individuals. A rubric for objective evaluation is prepared according to the

    Figure 2: Model of Reflective Learning (Adapted from Kember et al. 2000)

    4. Reflection on the Implementation

    The decision to use the POPBL approach and reflective learning with a portfolio (Figure 2) is made on the basis of 3 years of experience in conducting the course using traditional lectures and project-based. The course does not have paper and pencil examinations to suit the activities or tasks given to students; therefore, a formative and alternative assessment process, such as journal reflection and portfolio keeping are considered more appropriate to

    Classroom Fieldwork


    Social Communication

    Online learning (SPIN)


    Student-to-community Interaction


    Student-to-Student Interactions


    Instructor-to-Student Interactions



    Intensive Reflection


    Reflection (+)

    Understanding (+)

    Habitual Action


  • 3841 Ruhizan M. Yasin et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 46 ( 2012 ) 3837 3841

    the course to be very challenging, yet interesting because they are exposed to the outside world (community), and

    can differentiate between the surface learner and the deep approach learner. Normally, the deep approach learner would derive from those who were more mature students (the class is a mixture of fresh graduates and those who had some other learning or working experience). For less experienced students, more structured guidance is needed.

    was that they enjoyed and learned a lot through such community involvement. They learned and applied generic skills such as teamwork, interpersonal communication, and leadership. They also observed and learned in real-life (field) situations, for example, those who had a programme with aboriginal and other disadvantaged people or meetings with high-level officers in public and private organizations. What they need is more guidance as they are undergraduate students with many assignments to handle. This is in line with what is discussed by Strobel & Baneveld (2009).

    5. Conclusion

    The content introduced in the teacher training programme, as well as the pedagogic approaches, activities, and assessments should be aligned with learning outcomes of the course. This is to make sure that students have constructed meaningful knowledge, skills, and attitudes throughout their learning experiences. These experiences need to be gauged to guide the students with feedback. This guidance is given on the basis of their reflections on the activities and the collection of materials in a portfolio. Reflective action is a primary component of what Mazirow (1991) promoted: transformational learning for adulthood and preparing the young generation for lifelong learning. The approach taken is considered as an approach to ESD as well as for sustainable education.


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    The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 3(1), 44-58. UNESCO, (2005). Education for Sustainable Development in action. Paris: Guidelines and recommendations for reorienting teacher education to

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