Drawing a line in the sand: reflective practice using 'sandboxing' with higher education students

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

The research aims are:
1. To embed innovative practice into higher education pedagogy.
2. To utilise the 'sandboxing technique' to reflect on professional placement experience.
Traditionally, higher education teaching has consisted of formal lecturing style pedagogy and was largely passive in nature, students listened while lecturers imparted their knowledge, in essence a teacher focused conception was the norm (Barnett and Guzman-Valenzuela, 2016; Mazur, 2009). In recent years, there has been an upsurge in a more dialogic and active style of learning within this field, the so-called student focused
approach with the emphasis on the student undergoing worthwhile personal development (Åkerlind, 2003). It is recognised that learning occurs most effectively when students are allowed time to discuss key issues and arguments, formulate their own opinions and apply what they have learnt in a meaningful way (Biggs and Tang, 2011). It is also essential that students develop their personal and reflective skills to ensure their employability, once qualified, in a competitive field. McFarland et. al (2009) extend this notion by suggesting that through self- reflection and selfevaluation, reflective practice has an essential role towards enhancing students’ attitudes towards positive guidance and their subsequent confidence in utilising these skills.

Innovative techniques can be employed in higher education to engage students and offer alternative modes of expression. The sand tray and sand box technique was developed by Margaret Lowenfeld (1967) when she realised that children essentially need to ‘play’ through their concerns, issues and learning to make sense of their world. Amas (2007) applied this technique to reflective practice, students essentially bring a 'part of themselves' to practice and through this technique can make sense of their experiences. The concept of being a reflective practitioner is
deemed as central to the profession of an Early Years practitioner (Colloby, 2009) and furthermore this reflective component encourages problem solving skills as well as self-improvement (Jones and Pound, 2008). Being a reflective practitioner also requires an element of pedagogical assessment, effectively the what, how and the why of teaching (McKeon and Harrison, 2010).

The students’ reflections (N=20) were based on Gibbs’ (1988) model which allowed students to rationalise experiences in a conceptualised way. This format was utilised to guide their dialogue/narrative after their visualisation . Using an interpretivist paradigm and a visual methodological approach as advocated extensively in Mannay's (2010) work, a Tuff spot filled with play sand, small toys and objects were placed to “build a landscape” which represented their professional experience in placement (Amas, 2007, p.7). Lines could also be drawn in the sand to represent different areas or signify time and symbols. Supported by auteur theory, the students’ oral narratives were recorded on an iPad, where the “visual and verbal become conjoined” (Mannay, 2015, p.62). Thematic analysis was employed on the students’ visual representations and oral narratives. Key themes that emerged included division/segregation, support requirements, confidence building and professionalism. Ethical approval was sought from the university and BERA guidelines were administered throughout. The researchers also sought informed consent from the participant.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2018
EventBERA 2018 - Northumbria University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sep 201813 Sep 2018

Conference

ConferenceBERA 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle
Period11/09/1813/09/18

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Drawing a line in the sand: reflective practice using 'sandboxing' with higher education students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this