Enhancing knowledge and practice of ‘personal reflexivity’ among social work students: A pedagogical strategy informed by Archer’s theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Work Education
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2020
Publication type

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper presents findings of a pedagogical strategy for enhancing social work students’ knowledge and practice of ‘personal reflexivity’. Twenty-five MA students in England were presented ideas about ‘reflective practice’, ‘critical reflection’ and ‘reflexivity’ and encouraged to examine different interpretations including Archer’s theory of reflexivity as ‘internal conversation’. Archer’s Internal Conversation Indicator (ICONI) was used to determine students’ dominant reflexive ‘mode’. On programme entry, two students (8%) practised a communicative-reflexive mode, nine (36%) were autonomous-reflexives, six (24%) meta-reflexives and four (16%) fractured-reflexives. Four (16%) were unclassified. Sixteen students (64%) completed ICONI on two further administrations. Seven (44%) registered unchanged reflexive modes, whereas nine (56%) changed. Three (33%) unclassified changed to meta-reflexive, one (11%) from autonomous-reflexive to meta-reflexive and one (11%) from fractured-reflexive to meta-reflexive. Two (22%) meta-reflexives changed to autonomous-reflexives. One (11%) communicative-reflexive and one (11%) meta-reflexive became unclassified. Integrating Archer’s theorising into a pedagogical strategy for enhancing understanding of personal reflexivity encouraged students to identify their dominant mode. Resultantly, students were able to consider relevance of reflexive modes for reasoning, making decisions and being able to act within their value-commitments, beliefs and concerns within the constraints of social work contexts. Implications for social work education and practice are discussed.