I am a lecturer in the Department of Culinary Arts at GMIT, teaching and supervising a multitude of students from level six right through to level nine. As a person with a practical background that spans a time period of more than twenty-five years, experiential learning had been at the core of my everyday life in the industry. I only recently joined the lecturing profession and teaching opened up a vast multitude of ways in which to transfer knowledge, motivate and encourage students, that went way beyond just experiential learning. Based on my previous experience my teaching is heavily influenced by the cognitive theory as advocated by Jean Piage and Kurt Lewin with a particular emphasis on the experiential learning model developed by David Kolbe. However during my research as part of the programme, I realized that there are problems with favouring a specific theory of pedagogy in the implementation of teaching methods in a learning environment. In order to successfully support development, the student audience should be exposed to the appropriate theory of pedagogy and method of teaching based on time, assessment, and development. To enable students to reach their potential, theory of pedagogy and methods of teaching must be carefully chosen. Both theories and methods vary considerably as a student moves through the different levels of education, and as a lecturer it is my responsibility to identify which school of thought best suits the student needs at any given moment in their journey through college. It also became clear that not one size fits all, as each student has different abilities to learn. For me to grow as a lecturer and to deliver a high-quality student experience, critical reflection on my teaching had to become an essential part of my teaching, in order to continuously advance and better myself as an educational professional. In my role as an educator I see myself as both a facilitator and motivator, but additionally as an innovator that is improving the quality of teaching through the process of critical reflection. It is this process that allows me to gain a better understanding of what works best to the benefit of the student, providing them with a supportive and save learning environment in which they can prosper and flourish.
Theories of Pedagogy and Reflective Practice - for the full paper leading to the Philosophy Statement please see document to the right