Taken-for-Granted Assumptions and Professionalism in IAG practice

Bradley, Elizabeth (2013) Taken-for-Granted Assumptions and Professionalism in IAG practice. Doctoral thesis, University of Lancaster.

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This thesis examines the role of reflection in Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) practice, with particular reference to becoming aware of the role of taken-for-granted assumptions. It is grounded in the literature concerning taken-for-granted assumptions, personal knowledge and reflection in the context of professional practice.
It is a qualitative study evolving through three iterative cycles, with an additional ‘pre-cycle’ exploring the origins of the research in the researcher’s own experience as an IAG professional working with ethnic minority women.
The first main research cycle explored, in dialogue with a co-researcher, how we became aware of our own taken-for-granted assumptions. Subsequent cycles extend the data to responses from practitioners less close to me.
Using the concept of researcher-as-bricoleur, a range of methodologies were employed. In the pre-cycle and first research cycle an auto-ethnograpahic approach captures the researcher’s voice and that of a co-researcher. In later cycles a heuristic approach enabled the researcher to focus on the self and engage with her own and other practitioners’ experiences of taken-for-granted assumptions. These cycles explored, through written capture sheets, conversational interviews and email exchanges, IAG practitioners’ understanding of and engagement with reflection and reflective practice.
The research demonstrated different types and interpretations of reflection and reflective practice. Although practitioners described themselves as reflective and used self-reflection, this was insufficient to unearth taken-for-granted assumptions. The research ascertained that assumptions regarding whiteness were difficult to unearth, and were rarely acknowledged openly. Even less frequent was the sharing of unearthed assumptions with others.
The research revealed that reflective practice has itself become taken-for-granted and does not achieve what it advocates. The need to coach and nurture the skill of reflective practice is emphasised, with one of the data analysis tools – the ‘I Poem’ – proposed as a reflective tool for enhancing self awareness and assisting practitioners to examine their reflective journals and reveal their taken-for-granted voice.

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