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International learner voices : an exploratory study of the MBA students' journey to reflective practitioner

Bishop, Gillian (2017) International learner voices : an exploratory study of the MBA students' journey to reflective practitioner. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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The thesis explores an under-researched area in the field of reflection and management learning, how the international Master in Business Administration (MBA) student learns to reflect. The research is original in presenting a series of learning processes supporting students develop reflection, taking the learner perspective of what worked for them, in the context of management education and development.

The research adopts a qualitative, interpretivist approach in which questionnaires, focus group interviews and observations are utilised in the data collection as part of a grounded theory approach. This approach effectively supports theory building into how participants learn to reflect. A new feature for business research is the inclusion of auto-ethnography to address researcher reflexivity, explored as part of the researcher journey that develops alongside the participants’ journeys.

The challenges for participants are complex and include issues associated with adapting to critical pedagogy, a style of teaching adopted by business schools particularly in postgraduate business education. Participants cite their confusion, confusion with pedagogy and confusion with the assessment process, storytelling. The research, based on a university business school in the North of England, utilises storytelling as a learning process and as the assessment vehicle for the module, Personal and Professional Development through Reflective Practice (PPDTRP). The research focuses on this module delivered in part to develop participants’ reflective skills. The status of participants, full time students, is challenging for the delivery of this module, due to their lack of current managerial practice upon which to reflect.

The key themes reveal how participants’ international status impacts on their learning journey, what they understand by reflection and reflective practice and what the learnerjourney to reflective practice looks like. The thesis concludes with a series of models and a framework depicting reflection as a dynamic process requiring a range of teaching and learning interventions to facilitate learners’ development from reflection to critical reflexivity. This adds to work in the field of reflection and reflective practice specifically in relation to factors found to facilitate movement along the continuum of definitions of reflection, happening for these learners when reflecting on their personal life stories. Two factors facilitating reflection were engaging in dialogue with self (through learning logs and reflective diaries) and engaging in dialogue with others (through action learning sets and focus group interviews).

The original contribution to knowledge is unique insight into the international postgraduate learner journey to reflective practitioner, presented here in the form of three new models and a framework of learning processes supporting their journey. The first model illustrates the challenges for international students, the second model presents a continuum of definitions of reflection and the third model explores the factors facilitating movement along the continuum. Collectively these models contribute to understanding the learning processes participants’ found helpful in developing reflective practice, presented here as a framework that specifically supported these participants to reflect. A further contribution to knowledge is that some participants found the research intervention, the focus group interview, facilitated their development to the critical levels of reflection, critical reflection and critical reflexivity.

This research contributes to developments in pedagogy and developments in management research, advancing the empirical debate around teaching international students to reflect utilising the critical pedagogy, storytelling. Finally, adopting auto-ethnographic accounts of the researcher journey contributes to understanding how interactions between the researcher and the participants influence the research acknowledging this in the context of researcher reflexivity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Status: Unpublished
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
School/Department: York Business School
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2297

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