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Teachers’ Use of Reflection to Understand Their Students’ Learning: A Phenomenological Study of Secondary English Teachers’ Lived Experiences Open Access

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Framed against educational policies that conceptualize teacher understanding as best advanced by quantitative measures and standardization, this study explores the lived experiences of three reflective teachers to inquire how practicing teachers understand their students’ learning. This phenomenological study asks: How do three secondary school English teachers use reflection to understand their students’ learning? This guiding question is supported by three subsidiary questions: 1) How do these teachers describe their students’ learning? 2) How do these teachers describe their understanding of students’ learning? 3) How do teachers perceive reflection has shaped their understanding of students’ learning? This study is theoretically situated in Gadamer’s theory of hermeneutic as it examines the ways in which the teachers interpret their students’ learning. Data collection followed Seidman’s (2013) phenomenological interview protocol as well as Nakkula and Ravitch’s (1998) memoing process. Data analysis began with an application of The Listening Guide method (Gilligan, Spenser, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2003) and then proceeded to thematic analysis (Bernarnd & Ryan, 2010). The data analysis process surfaced seven themes related to teachers’ understanding of student learning as well as a rich context for understanding those themes. These themes support the theoretical framework described in Gadamer’s hermeneutics. They also reveal the complexity of student learning and the complexity of analysis and interpretation involved in understanding this phenomenon.

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