(co)Meta-reflection as a method for the professional development of academic middle leaders in higher education

Anthony Thorpe, Diane Garside

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The professional development of middle leaders in higher education is little considered in existing research, though there are general concerns being raised about the suitability of the professional development opportunities currently available. This article develops and explores the use of meta-reflection as a method for professional development, particularly of academics with direct responsibilities for courses and programmes such as course leaders, directors and co-ordinators. As an extension of reflective practice, (co)meta-reflection is proposed as a joint activity involving two or more people, seeking to develop their thought and practice by moving from descriptive to analytical levels of reflection. We provide an example of a (co)meta-reflective exercise and identify it as an approach with considerable potential to address the problems that middle leaders face, and call for further exploration of it as a method for professional development.

© 2017, British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS). This is an author produced version of a paper uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-117
Number of pages7
JournalManagement in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


  • higher education, middle leaders, middle managers, professional development, reflection

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