Taken-for-granted assumptions and professionalism in iag

Liz Bradley
The research question....
‘The role of reflection in Information,
Advice and Guidance (IAG) work,
with particular reference to becoming
aware of taken-for-granted
• Researcher
and early
with Jane
• Researcher
and Jane (coresearcher)
iterative cycles
• NCGS, case
study ‘Becky’
• NAEGA, case
study ‘Diane
and Carol’
What is it?
How do you use it?
Do you keep a journal?
What are the barriers?
Reflection and Self - reflection
Focuses on a problem
‘Purposeful act of thinking’
(Loughran, 1996)
‘untangle a problem, or to make
more sense of a puzzling situation;
reflection involves working toward a
better understanding of the problem
and ways of solving it’ (Loughran,
1996, p.14).
‘We reflect on something in order to
consider it in more detail’ (Moon, p.
Focuses on the ‘self’
‘Active, persistent and careful
consideration of any belief or
supposed form of knowledge in light
of the grounds that support it and
further conclusion to which it tends’
(Dewey, 1944, p. 9)
Process of creating and clarifying
the meaning of experience (present
or past) in terms of self (self in
relation to self and self in relation to
the world)’ (Boyd & Fales, 1983, p.
Difficult to ascertain, a skill, limited by the
individuals own self-knowledge, Does not
achieve what it advocates…
Reflection as a word, a term and an
appears to become itself ‘taken for granted’
Categorization is the process in which ideas and
objects are recognised, differentiated and
Categorization is fundamental
in language, prediction, inference, decision
making and in all kinds of interaction with the
Social categorization ‘the human mind must think
with the aid of categories....
Once formed, categories are the bases for normal
prejudgment. We cannot possibly avoid this process’
(Allport’s (1954/1979) p. 20).
Inability or capacity to reflect
Personal Knowledge
 Professional practitioners already possess personal
 Experiences can be used by ‘wise professionals’ to make
‘good judgements’, but they also form impressions which can
‘contribute to their professional knowledge’ (ibid, p. 106).
 Needs to be critically examined and controlled
 Undeveloped or unquestioned personal knowledge likely to
‘distort, the development of further knowledge’ (Moon,
2004 p. 83).
 The ‘self’, and the role of taken-for-granted assumptions,
need careful attention and consideration.
Tools and/ or processes
The Listening Guide: A Voice-Centred
Relational Method (Gilligan et al, 2003)
A method of Psychological analysis that draws on the voice
Origins in Gilligan's (1982) work on identity and moral
Qualitative analysis is designed to open up the ‘inner world of
another person’ (Gilligan et al, 2003:157).
It is used by many researchers as a form of analysis
applicable to a range of phenomena.
Consists of a number of what are termed ‘listenings’.
Each listening is ‘designed to bring the researcher into
relationship with a person’s distinct and multilayered voice by
tuning in or listening to distinct aspects of a person’s expression
of her or his experience’ (p. 159).
Unexpected Results - the ‘I Poem’
Co-researchers said ‘remind me to do this with some of my
own writing’; further saying ‘this is very good. I like it’.
‘this is really awful’. The ‘I poem’ appeared to act as a
trigger for Jane.
Much more than an analytical approach-The ‘I Poem’powerful tool-cut across the text and unearth
Cycle two and three
‘Made me realise the importance of understanding listening’
‘Very interesting results of ‘I poem’
‘illuminating’ ‘spontaneous’ ‘fast’
‘the ‘I’ poem-made me think’
Good reflective exercise’
‘I would like to use this again a tool to self reflect on language
use i.e. positive/negative’
‘Can provide analytical approach to reflection-highlight emotions
and attitudes’
‘is a useful tool for them to actually use, they have an actual tool
to use and not just sort of writing things down on paper’
 The ‘I Poem’, the listening focuses on the ‘I’ within the
 Highlight each ‘I’ and a number of accompanying
words within the text
 Transcribe the ‘I statements’ to make what resembles
a poem
Constructing the ‘I Poem’
Firstly, I was surprised at my clients’ mantle of ‘whiteness’ at our first interview
and at my reaction to it. She, on reflection, had assumed a dress code that
she felt would be more useful to her when encountering someone in a formal
role – so she had effected a change from her norm. Perhaps more
importantly, I realised that I had a sense of relief when she wore her “white
mantle”. It was easier for me to deal with someone who seemed to share a
western approach to things. Also, I had looked at her age and was aghast
that she was so young to have so many children. It didn’t meet my values.
This wasn’t necessarily related to her ethnicity, but it did relate to how I
viewed young women, of any culture, who seemed to do nothing more than be
baby machines. What challenged me most with this woman was that I found
that my underlying assumptions were that if she was a baby machine, why
would she want to have a paid job? Could she do one? She was clearly
intelligent, I had academic evidence, but I struggled to understand why she
was pursuing a career that might be difficult to enter and did not fit into the
roles I assumed she might be seeking.
‘I Poem’
I was surprised
I realised that I had a sense of relief
I had looked at her
I viewed young women
I found that my underlying assumptions
I had academic evidence,
I struggled to understand
I assumed she might be seeking
‘I Poem’
...........as an aid to reflection
The ‘I Poem’
Provides a tool or approach that enables users
to return to their reflective writing and begin to
identify taken-for-granted assumptions and blind
spots which can then be subjected to a more
critical examination.
A Tool for professional and personal
 Self-oriented
 Self challenging tool
Key findings....
felt safe
quick to implement
A tool that enabled practitioners to:
 Identify hidden aspects of the self
 Assist in the identification of self
 ‘innocent’ and ‘irrelevant’ - emotions and
negative language.
Key findings
Reflection and Self-reflection
 Inability or lack of capacity to reflect
 Tools and/or processes
 Time
 Fear
 Professional stance
Professional stance
Professional codes of practice and ethical standards
precluded practitioners from being judgemental
Prevented practitioners from digging deep within
themselves in order to unearth their own
assumptions, values and beliefs
Banaji, M. R., Lemm, K. M. and Carpenter, S. J. (2001). The social
unconscious, in Tesser, A. and Schwartz, N. (Eds.), Blackwell Handbook of
social psychology: Intraindividual process (pp. 138-158). Oxford, UK:
Gilligan, C., Spencer, R., Weinberg, M, K., and Bertsch, T. (2003). On the
Listening Guide: A Voice- Centred Relational Method, in Camic, P.M.,
Rhodes, J.E. and Yardley, L. (ed.s) Qualitative Research in Psychology,
Washington: APA.
Mauthner, N.S. & Doucet, A. (1998) ‘Reflections on a Voice-centred
Relational Method: Analysing Maternal and Domestic Voices’, in Ribbens J.
and. Edwards R (ed.) Feminist Dilemmas in Qualitative Research: Public
Knowledge and Private Lives. London: Sage.
Moustakas, C. (1990) Heuristic Research: Design, Methodology, and
Applications. London: Sage.
Thorne, S. (2000) ‘Data analysis in qualitative research’, Evidence Based
Nursing, 3(3), pp. 68-70.

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