Conceptualising and teaching discursive and performative reflection in higher education

Mary Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of reflection in higher education, and across disciplinary fields is widely recognised. It is generally embedded in university graduate attributes, professional standards and course objectives. Furthermore, reflection is commonly included in assessment requirements in higher education subjects, often without necessary scaffolding or clear expectations for students. It is essential that academic staff have substantive knowledge and clear expectations about the aims of reflective activities, the most effective mode of representation, and appropriate teaching strategies to support students in deep, critical reflection. The paper argues the case for reflection to be represented in different modes, using discursive (language) or performative (symbolic practice) forms of expression according to disciplinary context and individual communicative strengths. It introduces key discursive and expressive elements that constitute different modes of representation in reflective tasks. This functional analysis of textual elements provides explicit knowledge for teaching and assessing multiple modes of reflection in higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Continuing Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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