Reflection and reflexivity (pp 46-47, 92-94)
— notes from Illeris, K. 2002. The three dimensions of learning. Malabar, Fla: Krieger
There are two dissimilar meanings are associated with the word ‘reflection’:
1. Afterthought — reflecting on or giving additional though to something
2. Mirroring — in line with the original optical meaning, an experience of something mirrored in the self. The significance thereof is in the focus and that the personal identity is used as yardstick. The term self-reflection is often used in this sense. The inclination or ability to this kind of reflection is also termed reflexivity, however, accurate vocabulary is lacking.
Afterthought and cognitive learning
The words afterthought and reflection contains an element of time lag, in that new impulses that arise from interaction often do not happen directly. Although immediate learning is possible, the time lag is a characteristic. Often a cognitive dissonance remains and when an opportune moment takes place, afterthought occurs. Jack Mezzirow equated this kind of reflection to the learning in one situation and applied in another. Karl Duncker indicated that afterthought often manifests as problem solving, stemming from the original interaction. There is accommodative learning that lags behind the trigger impulses and is elaborated on later. Mezzirow contributed critical-reflection, which contains an added element of assessment of the soundness of the presumptions.
Reflection-in-action, developed by Donald Schön, is not considered to form part of afterthought, as form of learning, because Schön advocated reflection-in-action as a process of immediate reaction to a problem.
Self-experience and reflexivity
Thomas Ziehe and Anthony Giddens postulate that reflexivity is not merely intellectual, but involves the experiential, the emotional, the self-comprehension and the identity formation. Giddens introduced the expressions reflexivity of the body (body awareness); institutional reflexivity (organisations constantly needing to legitimatise their existence and function) and reflexivity of modernity (a characteristic of the time). Ulrich Beck supported the latter with the term reflexivity of modernization, for individual and societal reflexivity as a necessity.
Reflexivity is not just principally about learning and thinking, but also linked to personality and personal qualities development. Development of the self is seen as mirroring the development of the individual in relationship to society.