Student Reflective Literacy Practices and the Professional Development of Mexican American Women Post-Secondary Educators

Rebecca A Palomo, Tamara J Hinojosa
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 3  •  2018  •  pp. 041-057

The purpose of this study was to explore how the professional development of two Mexican-American women post-secondary educators was impacted by the reflective literacy practices (RLPs) of their students and themselves. RLPs were defined as verbal and written dialogue that fosters reflection of their learning.

Research suggests that RLPs can be empowering for students, yet there is minimal research about the impact that RLPs may have on the post-secondary educators (PSEs) who assign or use them.

We used critical theory, to conduct a collaborative autoethnographic study exploring how the use of RLPs influenced our professional development as Mexican-American women PSEs. Specifically, we focused on the contrasting nature of three specific concepts related to professional development: (1) voice/silence, (2) masking/expressing of emotions, and (3) empowerment/disempowerment.

Findings suggest that RLPs help PSEs gain insight about their students and about themselves. These insights facilitate both voice/silence and expressing/masking of emotions within the classroom and during interactions with colleagues. These insights also enable PSEs to enhance their pedagogical voices and to create empowering post-secondary education settings for themselves and for their students.

Two themes emerged in our study: Developing Pedagogical Voice and Becoming Empowered. The first theme had two sub-themes: (1) empowering class discussions and (2) personal experiences that guide our pedagogical voices. The second theme had four sub-themes: (1) dealing with other colleagues, (2) letting go of perfection, (3) 50:50 responsibility, and (4) vulnerability and heart.

Our research supports the use of RLPs in post-secondary education settings. However, because our findings also demonstrate how RLPs can contribute to Mexican American PSEs feeling silenced, implications for professionals who work with Mexican American PSEs indicate providing culturally empowering environments that decrease silence. Culturally empowering environments may include research mentorship for Mexican American PSEs, networking opportunities, and diversity recruitment efforts to increase the number of Mexican American women as post-secondary educators.

Future research should focus on the use of specific types of RLPs, including how technology is changing RLPs.

Mexican-American, voice, post-secondary, reflective literacy practices
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