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A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training

A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training

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This is a new, third edition of the essential text for all those working towards the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training. Tailored to meet the demands of the qualification and the latest Standards, it incorporates key information on reflective practice, study and research skills, and provides full coverage of all the mandatory units. Accessible language is combined with a critical approach that clearly relates practical examples to the required underpinning theory. This third edition:

  • has been fully updated throughout, including reference to the new Ofsted Inspection Handbook and legislation around GDPR, mental health, social media and apprenticeships
  • includes new case studies and questions in every chapter
  • features a completely new chapter on mental and emotional well-being
  • is suitable for use with all awarding organisations and HEIs
  • provides the depth and criticality to meet level 5 requirements

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781913063375
Publisher: Critical Publishing
Publication date: 01/13/2020
Edition description: Third Edition,New edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.85(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Lynn Machin is Award Leader and Senior Lecturer within the School of Education at Staffordshire University.  She has over 20 years’ experience of teaching in post-14 education.  Lynn has had a variety of roles within initial teacher education (ITE) including developing and writing the modules that make up the suite of qualifications within ITE in the FE and Skills Sector.  

Duncan Hindmarch is Award Leader for Lifelong Learning Teacher Training and the Foundation Degree in Education at Staffordshire University.  He has over 15 years' teaching experience, having worked overseas and in the UK.  With a background in Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages, he has been involved in developing and delivering ESOL and Initial Teacher Training programmes since 2005.

Sandra Murray is a Curriculum Leader and Advanced Practitioner in the Department of Teacher Training at Newcastle-under-Lyme College.  She has a wide range of experience supporting and teaching teachers in the lifelong learning sector and has been teaching on Initial Teacher Education programmes since 2005. 

Tina Richardson is an Award Leader and Manager of the Lifelong Learning Development Centre within the School of Education at Staffordshire University.  She has worked in compulsory, further and higher education, with the last 15 years focusing on Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy and teacher education for the FE and Skills Sector.  Tina has worked on a consultancy basis for a number of organisations such as LSIS, SVUK and CfBT.  

Read an Excerpt

A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education & Training

By Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray, Tina Richardson

Critical Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2016 Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-910391-80-8


Reflecting on, evaluating and improving your practice


Reflection and evaluation may be something that you don't engage in as much as you would like to or as much as you should in your role as a teacher. This chapter, through its alignment to literature, asking questions and providing activities, is designed to support you in your understanding of how to apply reflection and evaluation to develop your practice. It therefore aims to support you in:

* identifying, exploring and critiquing some of the key theories and models of reflection;

* identifying, exploring and critiquing some of the key theories and models of evaluation;

* considering approaches to evaluation;

* developing your use of feedback from learners and others effectively;

* identifying and developing your skills of critical reflection and evaluation of your practice.


There is a wealth of literature and information available regarding what is meant by reflecting and evaluating practice. For example, Donald Schön (2002) describes reflective practice as a process in which teachers engage in order for them to consider an issue. Some theorists (eg Argyris and Schön, 1978; Kolb, 1984; Brookfield, 1995; Moon, 2006) suggest that reflecting on and evaluating own practice relates to a continuous cycle of self-observation and self-evaluation in order for teachers to understand their own actions and the reactions they prompt in themselves and in learners. These views, along with others (discussed later in this chapter), encapsulate the notion of reflection being a process of analysis and evaluation through the use of a variety of strategies. In the context of teaching and learning these strategies include those that support your ability to critically reflect upon your practice.


Critical reflection requires you to develop and to use your meta-cognition (thinking about thinking) skills. Evaluation requires you to use available evidence, facts and views in order to make a judgement about something. So you need to reflect on your actions, issues and/or situations and also evaluate the outcomes and any impact of your actions, issues and/or situations. You can do this by asking more questions and also by being more questioning; that is developing your ability to enquire and to use analytical and evaluative skills in relation to your cognitive (thinking) and affective (feeling) domains (Chapter 8 has more details about these domains). Being critically reflective and exploring your practice and experiences through the use of your cognitive and affective domains is important because they can help you to identify assumptions, analyse arguments, aid your ability to ask yourself questions and identify how you can improve your performance as a learner and as a teacher (Anderson et al., 2001, p 2). For example, as a teacher you will regularly ask yourself the following question: How well did today's lessons go and what evidence am I using to make an informed judgement about this? Thinking about the lesson is important. However, for reflection to be critical and to serve a purpose your thinking needs to go beyond superficiality and needs to be a deep and intense process whereby probing questions are asked and pre-held assumptions are challenged (Brookfield, 1995). Reflecting critically about experiences that have occurred in your practice as well as acknowledging the feelings that you have in relation to them enable new thinking and new ideas to be formed and it is these new concepts that allow new experiences to occur (Gibbs, 1988).


Developing your skills to critically reflect and your ability to evaluate actions and situations more effectively involves your capacity to ask yourself and others, as Brookfield (1995) suggests, probing questions and to challenge pre-held assumptions. This capacity can be developed through building your own learning power and aptitude to know what it is that you actually need to learn (Claxton, 2006). This can be achieved through thinking about the knowledge and skills that you currently have and what skills and knowledge you might need to have in order to develop as a reflective practitioner. You then need to develop strategies to gain these skills and knowledge. One useful strategy is to use one or more of the many models that exist to help you to reflect and evaluate your practice. For example, the models presented by Schön (2002), Brookfield (1995) and Kolb (1984) are just three models, amongst others, that can assist you in this process.

Schön's reflection in and on action model

Schön (2002) contends that the ability to reflect is one of the defining characteristics of professional practice. He considers that the capacity to reflect in action (ie while you are actually doing something) together with on action (ie reflecting after an activity or event) is an important combination. Reflecting in action may be related to the actual mechanics of teaching (for example, managing a question and answer activity that is not going as well as anticipated) and reflecting on action may be related to post-lesson consideration about what went well and what could have been done better.

It can be difficult to reflect when you are actually doing something as, due to your involvement in the experience, you are unable to stand back from it, de-personalise it and give yourself time to stop and think. Reflection is not an automatic process and is made more difficult by the fact that you might need to challenge some deeply held beliefs and views. Therefore, Schön (2002) suggests that effective reflection needs the involvement of another person who is able to ask you appropriate questions so that your thoughts are not continually driven by espoused theories or theories in use. Espoused theories are the ones that you think you use while theories in use are the ones that actually align with what it is you actually do.

According to Argyris and Schön (1978) through your lifetime you will have developed mental maps. These mental maps are influenced, and have been influenced, by your attitudes and beliefs. It is these mental maps (even those that you may have forgotten about) rather than any theories that you espouse to use, that influence your actions regarding given situations. For example, you might consider yourself to use an adult-adult style of communication with your learners whereas, actually, you use a parent-child approach. Or, you may consider yourself to be a democratic leader but in reality your actions are those of an autocratic leader. Theories in use inform your actions and might, when you reflect on action, not necessarily be the best or only action you could take (Schön, 2002).

Critical reflection involves what Argyris and Schön (1978) describe as double-loop learning rather than single-loop learning. With single-loop learning your thinking centres around the attitudes, beliefs and values that you currently hold and these govern the variables which inform your actions (Argyris and Schön, 1978). When you question these variables you are reflecting using a double-loop learning approach and doing this can result in a change of thinking and subsequently in your actions.

Brookfield's four lenses

Brookfield (2012) contends that reflection on and evaluation of practice requires a four-lens approach:

* autobiographical as both learner and teacher;

* seeing yourself through your colleagues' eyes;

* seeing yourself through your learners' eyes;

* theoretical literature.

Autobiographical lens as a learner and teacher

Self-reflection is a crucial component of self-development and improvement of practice. Focusing on your own experiences as a teacher can reveal features of your teaching that may require further development.

Brookfield (1995), with similarity to Argyris and Schön (1978), contends that during any process of self-reflection it is important that you consider your reasons behind your thoughts, ie what assumptions might you be making and how might your views differ if these assumptions were not present. Critically reflective teachers challenge their assumptions and reframe their thinking and, consequently, their actions. Challenging your assumptions can be a really difficult thing to do as you may not be aware of what these are and even if you do you may not want to let go of views that you have held true for most of your life. Critical reflection involves looking at the practices and views that you have taken for granted, and the reasons behind these views, and considering possible alternatives. It could be that what you considered to be truisms are, in fact, unquestioned and unexamined assumptions.

Examples of some assumptions include:

* critical thinking is an intellectual function of adult life;

* teachers working in the further education and skills sector don't have as many negative issues to address as teachers within the compulsory sector regarding their learners' engagement in learning;

* it's easy to teach self-motivated and able learners.

The above examples might be true in some circumstances but not all adults engage in critical reflection; teachers working in FE will have some negative issues to deal with although these might differ to those that are present in compulsory education and, as Argyris (2008) points out, teaching self-motivated and able learners can be difficult because they are adept at deflecting blame and protecting established practices. One way of developing your ability to reflect and evaluate your practice and to become more aware of any assumptions can be through keeping a diary, journal or log of critical incidents. These accounts become reflective when, rather than simply describing an event or action, you think more deeply about a critical incident and learn from it.

Your colleagues' eyes

Due to pre-held views and assumptions about yourself you may not always see yourself or aspects of your practice in the same way as your peers or colleagues do. Discussing your practice with your colleagues and observing others' practice are two ways that can help you see your practice through different lenses and to identify some elements of your own practice that you may want to change.

However, discussions (or learning conversations) need to be purposeful and held within trusted relationships so that honesty and confidentiality are assured. Examples of purposeful learning conversations might include issues relating to classroom practice but they might also include issues relating to institutional compliance or learners' expectations.

Your learners' eyes

Reflecting on and evaluating your practice through your learners' eyes is important as it provides useful information about their learning needs.

Brookfield (1995) suggests that it is not always good practice for a teacher to enter a group as they immediately change the power dynamics of the group and learners' behaviours may change as a result of this. From their perspective (their lens) learners may see your presence as an interruption to their task, or as a form of assessment of their abilities to do the task. Furthermore, some learners may become self-conscious about what it is they were saying, or had intended to say whereas other learners might want to impress you and stifle opportunities for others to speak.

As well as reflecting on and evaluating your practice by considering teaching and learning situations from the learners' perspectives there are other approaches that you could adopt that would help you to do this. For example, you could collect post-lesson feedback from your learners. This can be done by the use of sticky notes, with comments, placed on your desk, or a very brief evaluation sheet that learners complete at the end of each lesson. Other approaches include end-of-module and end-of-course evaluations, attendance and achievement records and observations of your learners' motivation and engagement in learning.

Looking at your practice through your learners' eyes can help you see more clearly the learning encounters that you have prepared for them through their eyes. Doing this can help you to see if 'learners take the meanings that you intend them to do from your teaching lessons' (Brookfield, 1995, p 30) as variations in learners' prior knowledge, characteristics and backgrounds influence how they construct knowledge as well as any pre-disposed assumptions they hold of how they should learn and what good teaching looks like.

Theoretical literature

Literature can help you to understand your experiences by naming them in different ways and by providing you with some tools to change your approach (Brookfield, 1995). While, as Brookfield notes, discussions with your peers are useful, an appreciation of theoretical frameworks can provide you with information that enables you to challenge and present an argument to others when appropriate and can also help to reduce groupthink.

Groupthink is when individuals within a group, perhaps due to collective thinking or a desire to maintain harmonious relationships, make decisions that are not as individually reflective or evaluative as they could be.

Importantly, applying some of the theories that you read about to your practice can help you to become a better teacher through increasing your knowledge, which can also help you to improve your decision making.

Kolb's experiential learning cycle

Kolb (1984), whose work was influenced by Lewin (1890-1947), Dewey (1859-1952) and Piaget (1896-1980), outlines four significant stages of reflection:

* concrete experience: this relates to actually doing something and/or having an experience;

* reflecting: this relates to reviewing and reflecting upon the concrete experience and considering what happened, why it happened and what you might do differently next time;

* abstract conceptualisation: this relates to the learning and conclusions that you arrive at following the reflective process about the original experience. You formulate ideas more fully so that you can have a different type of experience than you did at the start of this process (ie the concrete experience);

* active experimentation: this refers to testing out your newly formed ideas when the opportunity presents itself to do so.

Kolb asserts that it is not necessary to commence this cyclical approach at the beginning (concrete experience). It may be that you observe an experience before you try it out or that you test out an idea which then provides you with the concrete experience. You work your way through the cycle from the point at which you started. Using this cyclical approach does require you to stop, think and reflect before and following your teaching lesson. It also requires you to develop a plan or strategy to improve future lessons.


Critical reflection is necessary in order to be aware of your behaviour and so effect change (Osterman and Kottkamp, 2004). As noted by the ETF, reflective and enquiring practitioners should: 'think critically about their own educational assumptions, values and practice in the context of a changing contemporary and educational world' (ETF, 2014, p 1). Reflecting on your practice supports your improvement of it. Your role as a teacher is to raise learners' aspirations such that each and every learner meets or exceeds their potential. A good teacher provides an environment in which learners can learn, an outstanding teacher provides an environment in which learners 'learn exceptionally well and, as a result, acquire knowledge quickly and develop a thorough understanding of a wide range of different aspects of their learning programmes' (Ofsted, 2013, p 46).

Reflecting and evaluating can provide you with the skills and tools to continually develop and improve your own practice so that your learners 'develop high levels of resilience, confidence and independence when they tackle challenging activities' (Ofsted, 2013, p 53). Therefore, reflecting on and evaluating your practice is a vital factor of professional development. It can be used to inform action and to make judgements and it is the ability to reflect critically that distinguishes between deep and surface learning and enables changes or transformation to occur in practice. A notion that applies as much today as when Knowles expressed it is that a lack of reflection can lead to 'anxiety, frustration, and often failure' (Knowles, 1975, p 15). Reflecting and evaluating can lead to improvement of your practice and can also help you to manage or alleviate stress.


Excerpted from A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education & Training by Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray, Tina Richardson. Copyright © 2016 Lynn Machin, Duncan Hindmarch, Sandra Murray and Tina Richardson. Excerpted by permission of Critical Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Meet the authors, xii,
Acknowledgements, xiv,
About this book, xv,
Introduction, 1,
1. Reflecting on, evaluating and improving your practice, 14,
2. Introduction to critical thinking, 34,
3. Roles, responsibilities and professional relationships in education and training, 46,
4. Learners and their individual needs, 62,
5. Assessment principles, practices and processes, 81,
6. Communication, 102,
7. Inclusive learning and managing behaviour in the classroom, 115,
8. Planning for teaching, learning and assessment, 129,
9. The practice of teaching, 143,
10. Curriculum development and evaluation, 160,
11. Wider professional practice, 171,
12. Research and scholarship, 184,
13. Information and communication technology for learning, 198,
14. Study skills and the requirements of the minimum core for the level 5 Diploma in Education and Training, 216,
Answers, 250,
Index, 264,

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