Dr Sue Douglas‘ presentation at the Australasian Law Teacher’s Association Conference in Wellington, New Zealand in July was titled “Constructions of Reflective Practice in Dispute Resolution”. This builds upon a paper that Sue presented at the 2014 National Mediation Conference.
The research project
Sue’s project is motivated by a curiosity about what FDRPs understand to be reflective practice. This focus on practitioner views is consistent with Sue’s preference for a ground up approach to her research. Sue is interviewing FDRPs on the Sunshine Coast about their understanding of reflection and the place that reflection has in their practice.
So far, Sue has found that the practitioners have diverse perspectives and practices. Practitioners do not appear to be familiar with literature about reflection or models of reflection.When asked whether it is important that they be supported to engage with literature about reflection, Sue noted the realities of practice and her belief that the practitioner experience should be a touchstone in the development of recommendations.
The planned outcome of the research is the development of a model for reflection that practitioners will be able to use within their practice context, and which supports high quality critical reflection. The model will be informed by the literature about critical reflection as well as the practitioners’ insights gained through Sue’s empirical work.
What is already known about reflection
Critical reflection is an important activity in dispute resolution practitioner practice, as it moderates and informs decisions regarding:
- neutrality and independence;
- unconcious bias;
- lack of neutrality;
- dealing with prejudices;
- cultural sensitivity;
- other ethical dilemmas;
- looking back on self; and
- taking a broad focus upon social structures and processes.
Reflection is a well established professional activity in many professions, who have developed standards and models to guide practitioners to be reflective. It is the activity that assists professionals to perform the artistry of practice.
Reflection is not mentioned in the National Mediator Accreditation Standards, but could be viewed as a “meta-competence.” A mediator specific model of reflection that builds upon what is already known from existing models and approaches in other professions, as well as the vast literature about reflection, will be a valuable contribution to the field.