Traces of self: online reflective practices and performances in higher education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores issues emerging from the question of how students and teachers negotiate issues of identity, authenticity, ownership, privacy and performativity in high-stakes online reflection in higher education. I examine in particular the notion of traces as both inscriptions and archives. Working online amplifies the destabilising and disturbing effects of compulsory reflection, and the combination greatly complicates the humanist notions that legitimise their use: that there is a 'true self' which can be revealed, understood, recorded, improved or liberated through the process of writing about thoughts and experiences. Online reflective practices are implemented without acknowledgement of the difference being online makes, and issues of power in high-stakes reflection are disguised or ignored. These practices normalise surveillance of students' emotional and developmental expression, and produce rituals of confession and compliance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-126
Number of pages14
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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