PIDP 3100 Journal 3 – Critical Reflection and Learning


“Learning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection”[1]


What have you learned from reflecting on this particular quote? What has caught your attention?

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Critical thinking describes the process by which students become aware of two sets of assumptions:[2]

  1. Students investigate assumptions held by scholars in the particular field being studied
  2. Students investigate their own assumptions and the way these frame their own thinking and actions (Brookfield 2012b)

Brookfield proposes that critical reflection has 3 phases:

  1. The identification of assumptions that underlie our thoughts and actions
  2. The scrutiny of the accuracy and validity of these assumptions in terms of how they connect to our experience with reality
  3. The reconstituting of these assumptions “to make them more inclusive and integrative” (Brookfield,1991, p. 177)

What I have learned from this quote is that the learner should also look inside his or her self and contrast pre-conceptions with real experience. The learner should look at the concepts objectively and without bias.

What caught my attention is the way that one must not just accept hegemony[3]. One should question the generally accepted knowledge with what is actually experienced.

“Learning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection”


What did you realize about teaching as a result of this quote?

photo by john powszedny 2014

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The students have the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the experience, and oppose it with their own deep thoughts. As the emotional content of experience is processed before the meaning is processed (see my Journal 4 post), their emotional reaction to the experience may be more accurate than their thinking reaction to the experience.

If the teacher is to foster critical thinking, the teacher should encourage the students to contrast their assumptions to their emotional reactions from the experience.

“Learning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection”


What was your “Aha!” moment when you read this quote? In what ways did this quote change your mind about being an adult educator? What was one key insight that you now have as a result of this quote?

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My “Aha” moment when I read the quote was “Why should I believe everything I am told?  Isn’t it true that if you want to believe in something, a simple search of the internet will find a site where supposed experts have scientific proof of what you want to believe in?  Isn’t that considered hegemony[3] when one group (scholars and theorists) offers widely-accepted facts for the rest of us to accept as irrefutable?

An adult educator should encourage the method of critical thinking by comparing how the preconceptions with experimental results. The students could compare the predictions with the facts. Also the students and teacher could share their predictions.

The key insight is the fact that we all have methods to solve problems, and at often times the student needs to frame their experiences with their assumptions and actions.

“Learning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection”


How has this quote, and the insight that you have gained from reflecting upon it, influenced your notion of teaching or how you will teach in the future?

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The insight I have gained from this quote is that during lectures and labs I will be asking the students questions that require deeper thought. Instead of breeding encyclopedias, the students will be responsible for more thoughtful answers and solutions to greater problems.

In the labs I will be asking the students to explain what will happen under certain physical conditions, then get them to prove it by measuring the results. Then they can compare the results with their predictions.


Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice – (Merriam and Bierema, Jossey-Bass 2014)

Using Critical Incidents to Explore Learners’ Assumptions – (S.D. Brookfield – in J. Mezirow and Associates’ “Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood”, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1991 p. 177-193) 

Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions – (S.D. Brookfield, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass 2012b)

My PIDP 3250 forum “Positive Learning”

[1] Merriam & Bierema 2014 p. 117

[2] Merriam & Bierema 2014 p. 213

[3]  Influence or control over another country, a group of people, etc.


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