«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»
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Appendix A Thematic Folder Appendix B Teaching Reflective Practice; can Human Resource Management (HRM) learn from research in other disciplines?
Mel Bull, Sheffield Hallam University, firstname.lastname@example.org Claire Taylor, Sheffield Hallam University, email@example.com Abstract Reflective practice is becoming ever-more prevalent as a key skill for Human Resource Management and other wider business disciplines (CIPD, 2013;
BIFM, 2014). To understand the requirements of teaching reflective practice and the benefits this can bring to practical working life, this paper draws on research from the Facilities Management undergraduate course within Sheffield Business School delivered to mature professional students. The course engages with a reflective practice module that underpins the mindset of the course. Alongside the primary research will be a literature review in relation to reflective practice and observations from teaching reflective practice to HR professionals. The paper concludes with some initial thoughts for consideration and improvement and the need for further research into this area.
Key Words Reflective Practice, HR, Facilities Management, Teaching, Multi-disciplinary Biographies Mel Bull is a Senior Lecturer teaching Reflective Practice and Organisational Behaviour to Facilities Management Practitioners and is Course Leader for the MBA in Facilities Management. Her doctoral research draft title is 'The use of reflective practice by facilities managers: a hermeneutic exploration'.
Claire Taylor is a Senior Lecturer teaching Employee Relations and Human Resource Management. Claire has a range of industry experience within the private, public and third sectors. Her doctoral research interests are employee relations, social networking and workplace psychology.
1.0 Introduction An opportunity is presented to analyse pedagogical approaches to teaching reflective practice across differing disciplines, addressing how teaching practice is developed to match the skills requirements of the Human Resource Management (HRM) sector. The purpose of the analysis is to address issues faced by lecturing teams on MSc HRM courses at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU).The teams have encountered portfolio submissions by mature students where a superficial discussion of reflective practice theory and practice is evident in content (Thompson & Pascal 2012). This paper will look at the agenda for reflective practice in higher education to ascertain what can be learned to aid engagement with this topic pedagogically.
Norrie et al (2012 p566), suggest poor implementation presents difficulties for on-going professional practice. They imply practice is reliant on the assumptions that individuals seek to question their critical thinking skills and previous actions in order to develop themselves. Smith (2001) discussed that mature students can often block reflective practice as a negative exercise which needs to be facilitated properly allowing for a deeper understanding of what reflection is both theoretically and in practice. Edwards and Thomas (2010) raise the question whether reflective practice can be taught (Thompson and Pascal, 2012). Their discussion highlights the issues Schön (1983, 1991) had initially with technical rationality, and have stated that there needs to be awareness that reflective practice is not just a skill to learn.
Developing reflective practice skills are purposeful as HRM has moved from a narrow, reactive role to a "wider canvas" denoting a paradigm shift towards strategic HRM (SHRM) (Gupta 2010:397). This shift requires employee empowerment, constant change management and strategic development, which require professionals to develop a reflective stance in volatile economic contexts. It is essential Universities encourage and develop reflective practice as a core competency.
This paper draws on current doctoral research of reflective practice within Facilities Management education (Bull, 2014) and reviews core requirements of teaching reflective practice within other sectors, analysing literature and requirements by professional bodies to explore whether HRM can learn from other disciplines. The paper will make recommendations for the future pedagogy at SHU.
2.0 Background The word ''reflection'' originates from the Latin verb ''reflectere'' which means bend or turn backwards (Fairbrother and Hibbert, 1997); correspondingly the core properties of reflection used in academic literature relate to "looking back" on our experiences (Moon, 1999). Several key educational theorists have analysed reflective practice (Boud et al, 1985, Van Manen, 1977, Mezirow, 1981 and Schön, 1983, 1991). Their thoughts have been linked to philosophers such as Dewey, Habermas and Friere; however there is little clarity between these key theorists on a definition of reflective practice.
The focus on reflective practice for HRM is driven by requirements in standards of education and training for HR practitioners in by the HR professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, (CIPD). CIPD require masters students to complete a module focusing on reflective practice as part of their accreditation and continued professional development (2013). The “Developing skills for Business Leadership” module is delivered over the duration of their course. The assessment includes a portfolio based on 7 learning outcomes including: interpersonal relationships, problem solving, financial resources, leadership and team working skills.
Conversely at Sheffield Business School, the undergraduate programme in Facilities Management (FM) is for mature professionals working in the FM industry. The first year includes a reflective portfolio to not only recognise the learning but to be aware of how the learning has impacted on practice (Bull, 2014). The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), the professional body for this sector also recognise like the CIPD that continuing professional development (CPD) should include self-reflection on learning and reflective facilities management (FM) practice as a core module on their education routes.
Thus it seemed fortuitous to explore what HRM could learn from the FM teaching practice in our university.
3.0 Literature Review
3.1 Core Concepts of Reflective Practice Bengtsson (1995) highlights four basic aspects of reflection: reflection as selfreflection, reflection as thinking, reflection as self-understanding and the distancing function of self-reflection. This is further reiterated by Boyd and Fales (1983) who see reflective learning as an individual process and internal examining resulting in a changed conceptual perspective. According to Bolton (2010:xix) reflective practice is "paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions by examining practice reflectively and reflexively. This leads to developmental insight." Bolton further explains the concepts of reflection and reflexivity alongside the concept of values.
"Reflection is an in depth consideration of events or situations: the people involved, what they experienced and how they felt about it." She states that to fully engage in reflection we have to be prepared to "relive or review the experience" and be able to "replay from diverse points of view". She continues to explain reflexivity as a way of "standing outside the self to examine, for example, how seemingly unwittingly we are involved in creating social or professional structures counter to our espoused values." By the meaning of values, she continues in explaining that these are manifested in practice. For example, "we are what we do". The recognition of the difference between our values in practice and our espoused values can be further explored through reflective practice to try to enable us to make them harmonious with each other.
Osterman and Kootkamp (2004:13-14) refer to reflective practice being designed as a way to " facilitate identification, examination, and modification of the theories-in-use that shape behaviour... requiring change in deeply held action theories". This explanation identifies the active as opposed to passive engagement with this practice. It is not simply naval gazing but a way of changing our own inbuilt assumptions and behaviours.
3.2 Reflective Practice in Teaching Smith (2001) discussed that mature leadership development students can often block reflective practice as a negative exercise. Teaching needs to be facilitated to allow for a deeper understanding of what reflection is. An anecdotal comment from a facilities management student reinforces this need, "I don't want to engage in reflective practice, I am a positive person". After further exploration with this student about their understanding and some more detailed clarification, this particular student recognised that reflection was not just about self-flagellation which allowed them to feel able to engage with the concept (Bull, 2014). There is also a danger of reflective practice becoming confession like (Bleakley, 2000), it is not just an unburdening of guilt. Fairbrother and Hibbert (1997:5) also refer to feedback from students who have studied a reflective practice module through nursing education; when asked what advice they would
give to new students about to start the module they said:
"Watch where you walk some of it is thin ice.
At times the group were very irritable about reflective practice. I know I was.
Do it! Be prepared to have your ideas shaken about.
I went through a complex learning process through this (reflective practice) module and it has certainly made me look at a lot of things from a new perspective."
This reinforces the initial responses to the idea of being critically self-aware and being able to question your own values and beliefs (Moon, 1999).
The concept of reflexivity according to Cunliffe (2009) is taking reflective practice further in relation to not only understanding our practices but also how we relate with others, the creation or organisational realities' shared practice and also how we talk and use language. This allows for recognition of how our circumstances and relationships are considered in relation to our behaviours as opposed to merely reacting to them and this can help to understand and revise ethical ways of being. Consideration also needs to include whether there is a difference between our values in practice and our espoused values. Can this be affected by organisational values being different to our own? Bolton (2010) refers to reflexivity as an awareness of how “I” am experienced and perceived by others. Bolton also discussed her use of reflective and reflexive practice as a "through-the-mirror" method to allow for a combined reflexive and reflective journey.