Steps towards my Thesis - Critical Reflection Through Blogging

Much like my fellow Englishman in Turkey Adam Simpson, I have plenty I want to blog about at the moment but hardly any time. I’ve had some interesting moments in class and online with my students in the last few weeks but as I’m teaching a full schedule across two grades I’ve never taught before, working on student websites, setting up a distance learning programme with another branch of my school and pursuing my MA studies, there’s little time to write about it all.

This post is different, however, as it allows me to combine part of my study programme with my blog. At the moment, I’m doing a course entitled ‘Developing Researcher Competence’ (DRC), which aims (amongst other things) to get us to produce a pilot study ahead of doing the final thesis. After much umm-ing and ah-ing, I have decided to look into the use of blogs for teacher development. The course notes suggest opening up my chosen area to ‘other-interrogation’ so I thought who better to consult about blogging than the blogging community I’m a part of?

Image by Flavio Ferreira

At the moment, the broad topic I want to look at is:
Using a blog as an open reflective journal for teacher self-development
I’ve blogged about this before but the whole idea of using a blog as a space to reflect intrigues me. Blogs offer great value not only in the process of writing each post and the internal reflections that leads to (I have rethought and refined my thinking in the course of typing up this post) but also in the interaction that goes on between the writer and the readers. Personally, on several occasions, I have found the comments I receive have really helped shape or alter my thinking about the topic of the post as has the experience of reading other people’s posts on similar topics.

I would like to investigate how moments of ‘critical reflection’ come about (naturally, my focus is therefore on those blogs which describe and discuss lessons or moments of lessons and/or general thoughts about classroom practice) and I have the following questions in mind:
  • What inspires you to write posts?
  • What prompts those moments of reflection?
  • How important is the role of the audience for you?
  • Does the presence of an audience and the fact that anyone can find and read your blog affect what you write?
  • Do the comments made help you reflect on your practice on a deeper level?
 My 'hunches' at this time are that most teachers get inspiration for their post either from moments in the classroom or other blog posts. The idea of sharing experiences and engaging in discussion is what drives people to use a blog to reflect in this way and the audience can both contribute to those moments of reflection and motivate further ones. However, I also believe that some bloggers may focus more on what their readers are likely to respond to or hold back from discussing some issues in a 'public' space...

Obviously there are a lot of questions there and I need to narrow my focus a little. Any thoughts or comment you have at this stage on my ideas so far (or anything I may have missed!) would be much appreciated.

As for the research itself, I am thinking of starting with a survey about the kinds of posts people write and what prompts them (this can easily be done online after all) before later requesting permission to analyse the posts and interaction taking place on a few specific blogs (and anyone who would be interested in participating in that research in the future, please let me know!)

I will also be doing a conference presentation next month on the broader theme of self-development through online means so your comments will be helpful for that as well. Smile


  1. This sounds like some really interesting research Dave. I hope I can help out in some way. My DOS and I are hoping to do a talk about the role of blogging in personal devlopment at IATEFL next year. Looking forward to following this thread and seeing the results from the surveys and your research.

    Good luck.

    Adam (@bealer81)

  2. I find your questions to be on target. I find that your "hunches" describe the way I feel about blogging.
    It would be great if these research questions were approved and you researched this! I'd be happy to answer questions if you need it!
    Best of luck!

  3. I love the broad topic and am very much interested in this area of profdev research myself. The problem is, there are many areas of research I look forward to pursuing, but realise I don't have the time to do them all. I hardly have time to read what I have to now!

    I'll be happy to participate in your research when you've got it sorted out.

  4. Hi ya Dave,

    Glad to help you out if you need it - just send an email with the details. I think some of the questions you're asking are really interesting - especially:

    However, I also believe that some bloggers may focus more on what their readers are likely to respond to or hold back from discussing some issues in a 'public' space...

    as it shows so much of how the 'sphere has really, really changed over the last 5 years - I've really seen it go from

    - a place to store links
    - short quick posts advertising seminars/products
    - giving tech tips
    - gripes and whinges
    - comedy about ELT
    - sharing lessons

    To more indepth reflections. Sometimes there are swings back towards navel grazing... sometimes there are items of absolute gold and sharing. I'm sure you've seen the trends too.

    Is this all due to Twitter? due to so many of the VIPs joining the 'sphere? due to the community we formed and once we knew each other we worked like a staff-room?

    Dunno, but the first round of ELT bloggers (Alex Case / Graham Stanley / Carla Arena may be good to approach for thoughts - don't hesitate to write for mine.

    Take care,

  5. Hi Dave
    I've responded to your questions in my blog post

  6. Just found this post, don't know how I missed it. Thanks for the shout out plus a great post to reflect on.


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