Introduction to Self-Study

An evolution of the Professional Reading group has been proposed and it has got me really thinking. The evolution is a Self Study group – a collection of teachers that would undertake a self study across the year, meeting monthly as we explore our inquiries.

Self Study, according to Anastasia P. Samaras and Anne R. Freese who wrote in ‘Self-Study of Teaching Practices Primer’ the characteristics of Self-Study:

  1. self-study is situated inquiry;
  2. self-study is process;
  3. self-study is knowledge;
  4. self-study is multiple;
  5. self-study is paradoxical.

It is not just about sitting by yourself and reflecting, it’s about working within a framework of literature, critical friendships, internal and external reflection.

Samaras wrote another book called ‘Self-Study Teacher Research Improving Your Practice Through Collaborative Inquiry‘ and defines self-study as (the brackets are my thoughts):

  1. Personal situated inquiry (it has to be of interest, something that matters to ‘self’)
  2. Critical collaborative inquiry (critical friends are better than friendly critique – “How did it go?…How do you know?” – honest feedback and reflection)
  3. Improved learning (focus on outcome, learning about yourself)
  4. A transparent and systematic research process (necessity of openness to outside views, questions, critique)
  5. Knowledge generation and presentation (questions around how to present the information and what audience we are targeting and is accessible ethically).

I believe self-study to be a personal, systematic inquiry situated within one’s own teaching context that requires critical and collaborative reflection in order to generate knowledge, as well as inform the broader educational field

The process of self-study opens us up to questions and feedback. How to elicit that feedback can be done through student voice. Meetings with students and critical friends interviewing students is interesting. Some feedback about this, how to get this feedback out was discussed and these ideas were shared:

  • Start with generic questions – what was your favourite topic? Warm them up before hitting the nail. Settling in questions.
  • What could I have done differently? What could the teacher be doing to improve your learning?
  • Use “why” and open question to find more specific detail.
  • What have I done in the classroom to make the biggest difference out of school? What advice would you have for next year’s class?

Where to from here?

  • Looking at the Self-Study guidepost and framework to determine next steps.
  • Meet further with the group and determine a research question.
  • Interested in applying the self-study framework to the potential high achieving boys in mentoring, the student centred 3MED course next year or some of the basics around my Drama teaching.
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3 thoughts on “Introduction to Self-Study

  1. Thanks for this, Cargill. Reading it now, as I sit down to reflect on yesterday’s session they’ve been very useful as an aide memoire. I’ve also been inspired by several people – including yourself – to start my own blog.

  2. Thanks for these notes, Cargill. Reading it now, as I sit down to reflect on yesterday’s session they’ve been very useful as an aide memoire. I’ve also been inspired by several people – including yourself – to start my own blog.

    1. Thanks for commenting Morag! I have found your blog and look forward to the “introspection, interior monologue, stream of consciousness type stuff mixed in with humour and a little academic inquiry.”

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