The Role of Reflection in ELT: University of Sharjah Teachers' Views
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Reflection is a vast and vague concept. If it is simple to reflect in some ways, in other ways it is complicated. We cannot find out what is going on in someone's mind until it is externalized in the form of actions. Especially, to know whether teachers reflect or not is an important issue because teachers' reflection affects the process of teaching and learning both for teachers and students. The aim of this study was to understand University of Sharjah teachers' attitudes and views about the role of reflection in their professional development, as not enough is known about how university level teachers in the UAE feel about reflection. The study investigated whether these teachers reflect or not and if yes, then how they reflect. It also tried to identify those factors which helped them in reflecting, and the constraints which impede reflection. Data were collected through surveys and semi-structured interviews. 40 out of 48 teachers who are currently working in the English Language Center at the University of Sharjah were invited to participate, and 30 out of those 40 teachers responded to the surveys. Five of them also volunteered for follow-up interviews. The data analysis helped me to find the answers to my research questions and unveiled the situation of reflection in this specific English language teaching situation. Findings of this study revealed that a majority of the participating teachers were aware of the concept of reflection and that they showed a positive attitude towards the role of reflection in their professional development. Results also indicated participants' different preferred modes of reflection and some factors that they thought inhibit reflection in teachers. It was suggested that to know about reflection and to show positive attitudes towards reflection are not enough. There is a need on the part of teachers to understand what to reflect about and to act wisely on their reflection. Finally, although this study's concern was to understand teachers' attitudes and views towards reflection, I believe it could also help teachers notice some important aspects that could trigger their interest towards reflection.