Generating meaning from doing: the perceived barriers to effective reflective practice for remote expedition leaders
Mark Hickman, Dave Collins
Although expedition leaders often use reflective practice as part of a client-based programme of experiential education its value to their independent continued professional development (CPD) remains insufficiently realized. Consequently, the potential for reflective practice to enhance client learning is also inhibited. Despite effectiveness in other practice areas, difficulties of engaging with reflective practice on remote and extended expeditions appear to be due to a lack of skill and, to a lesser extent, structural, and equally powerful, obstacles associated with being ‘in the field’. The aim of this research was to identify some of the obstacles to reflective practice as experienced by the leadership cadres on two separate 35-day long educational expeditions to the Arctic. Samples were purposive and homogenous, with an average age of 39.5 years. Participants were asked to keep reflective journals and whilst most did so in paper format, two opted for a computer-based approach. Four, 45 minute focus groups were used to explore the barriers perceived to keeping those journals. Data were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis and four key themes emerged: time constraints and organizational culture; a lack of confidence; a persistent misunderstanding of the aims of reflective practice; and anxiety about recording data.