TEACHER education programmes are aimed at producing teachers who are noble in character, progressive and scientific in outlook and are committed to upholding the aspirations of the nation.
They are also aimed at producing educators who cherish the national cultural heritage, and ensure the development of the individual as well as the preservation of a united, democratic, progressive and disciplined society.
Based on the Philosophy of Teacher Education and Preliminary Report of Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), the Teacher Education Division continuously boosts teachers’ abilities through its curriculum changes.
The changes in the application of thinking skills and information technology, as well as knowledge-based course work, are aimed at producing high-quality teachers and improving the quality of teaching.
Therefore, teacher education institutions are responsible for producing highly-qualified teachers who will go on to be agents of change and empower decision makers in their teaching practices.
One of the efforts is through activities promoting reflection or self-assessment in teacher education programmes.
By incorporating reflection and self-assessment early on in such programmes, student teachers (STs) will have the opportunity to learn new theories that may help shape their teaching philosophies.
Reflection has been popular in teacher education programmes as a practice to motivate teachers to carry out self-improvement so they can teach better.
It has been identified as an important part of teaching and a key element for a teacher’s professional development.
It is also said to bridge the gap between theory and practice, shifting the teachers’ expertise to critical evaluation and enabling teachers to take a more active role in their own accountability.
Enhancing reflection skills and practices may be seen as a way to improve teaching practices and reflection outcomes in teacher education. Thus, there is a need to produce teachers who are aware of their responsibilities, capabilities and surroundings. Teachers should be able to reflect on their behaviours and surroundings, as well as make decisions and changes.
The Higher Education Ministry has recognised the importance of linking theory and practice in university studies.
To address the issue of integrating theory and practice, teacher educators in universities must assert the application of reflection as one of the essential techniques in teaching.
All teacher education institutions must emphasise reflection among STs, especially during the teacher clinical experience (TCE).
For instance, it is clearly stated in the Teaching Practicum Handbook that “STs are required to provide a reflection or self-assessment report” after completing their studies.
This means that they are required to apply reflective thinking as a practice.
STs are those who will be undergoing TCE. They should be able to:
IDENTIFY issues or aspects of teaching practices;
DESCRIBE feelings or inner voices;
DEVELOP perception of oneself;
ACQUIRE new awareness;
PROVIDE recommendations; and,
PLAN further action to resolve the issues or aspects.
It is important for STs to know their roles during TCE because TCE is a vital component in teacher education, which prepares them for a career in teaching.
Dr Nurkhamimi Zainuddin, Deputy director, Goal Itqan, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia