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«People Matter: A hermeneutic exploration of reflective practice and facilities management Melanie Bull A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of ...»

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Ruth-Sahd (2003) discussed teaching reflective practice in nursing education and the need to ensure the environment is safe, open and honest and trusting to further enhance reflective practice engagement. Davies (1995:167) qualitative research study to examine 6 first year nursing students identified that "the reflective processes of clinical debriefing and journaling did impact the environment, the process and the focus of learning." More interestingly, as the students were engaged with each other, there was less anxiety and also higher levels of active learning. Ruth-Sahd (2003) reinforces the need to ensure that students understand the reason for reflective practice and also state the teaching staff must create a safe environment to allow this to happen.

6.0 Conclusion This paper is the first stage of research on HRM students at SHU. Currently the research has focused on documentary evidence taken from their portfolios. The analysis of the literature and a comparison with SHU student comments taken from these portfolios has highlighted issues with engagement and a degree of negativity to reflection. An issue is that they see reflection as too introspective and use strong narratives suggesting that "over thinking can be dangerous".

Without further research this cannot be addressed. These are deep seated individual perceptions, which may or may not be shared. This highlights a need for further research.

The students on the part time MSc HRM are similar to the FM students, they are professionals who may have some previous experience of higher education or whom are being sponsored by their companies to gain the CIPD qualification which is part of the course outcomes. Whilst they have similar work statuses they are dissimilar by not engaging in reflective practice often stating it is too time consuming or lacks purpose.

An exploration of the approaches used in FM and health teaching and literature has provided two clear areas of future focus to our pedagogy. The initial element is on preparing the students for reflection. The emphasis is to emulate the approach used in FM and in nursing to provide reflection as a pragmatic process and to utilise models which can be are tool based and can be applied practically.

An approach for our initial introduction is to delineate teaching of reflection into the differing levels of reflection suggested by Zeichner and Liston (1996) who propose five different levels where reflection occurs. These are rapid reflection;

repair; review; research; and retheorizing and reformulating.

These levels relate to the teaching of reflection, however, they are useful as they are action based and less focussed on emotions and feelings, an area that HRM students particularly dislike anecdotally. Addressing this would link more appropriately to the emphasis and focus outlined in the CIPD requirements and emulates the FM approach which suggests that use of reflection is tool-based.

It is important to address our pedagogical approaches to teaching reflective learning as it is not always best placed and needs to be integrated into other parts of the curriculum. There needs to be a focus on assimilation of reflection in other elements of the HR courses as there is with the FM course.

Whilst most of the HRM students recognise the possible advantages of reflective practice as they engaged with learning, the issue is perhaps performance based. Often they discussed issues such as having little or no time for writing down their feelings. This can be attitudinal however it could also be a reality as they are time poor professionals. A clear barrier appears to be getting students to go beyond description and towards a deeper scrutiny. This could be the levels of introspection which veer away from their stoic approach to work.

This may be dictated by the unitary nature of the workplace and the demands on HR to enforce and negotiate rules and behaviours in the workspace (Dunlop, 1958, Crouch, 1993). Thus this may relate to a tension in teaching approaches rather than the students themselves i.e. if they perceive themselves as pragmatists then the advantages may already be limited. Thus an area for teaching to address is how we link learning to practice. Lastly a core element will be on how we approach delivery to suit specific cohorts.

Moon (2004:130) refers to the “student’s perception of the task that influences the approach, not the reality of it!” Does more need to be done so they see the task of the PT HRM portfolio in a different way? The portfolio task itself is somewhat mixed, students often need lots of guidance about the relevance of such theories and their link to practice. The CIPD do not necessarily offer research evidence to support their conviction that reflective learning is important to HR management practice. The requirement of such a formal assessment has had an impact on engagement. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they feel they are being forced to reflect thus it is likely to be less effective.

The research has highlighted gaps in the teaching approach at SHU and further research is required to guide pedagogical approaches.

7.0 Limitations The study took place within a single course within the faculty, with understanding therefore limited to the location. The research is part of wider doctoral studies; exploration into HR and management practice (Taylor) and reflective practice (Bull) and this will culminate in further research papers on this area.

8.0 Future Research Research exists to address some of the above limitations as discussed above.

Further studies need to address a more detailed research with HRM students and also the wider university in the delivery of reflective practice teaching across multi-disciplinary courses. The aim is to conduct interpretative studies to establish perceptions of the teaching of reflection. This will involve exploration with educators, professional bodies and the students. This is purposeful as most studies concentrate on the student experience.

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