Activity 3: Provocation and Response

The following critical pedagogical approach is adapted from Stephanie Nixon et al's article, "Seven-step framework for critical analysis and its application in the field of physical therapy."  Pick an image or text, for example: a slide from one of your own presentations, a textbook cover, a policy, a tweet, a news article or an organizational communication.  We have chosen one for demonstration purposes below.

Provocation: What immediately comes to mind when you look at the image below? What is shown in this image? What messages are communicated through this image? What is a dominant concept or construct in the image? (e.g. disability, healthcare, safety). How does the image portray that concept/construct?  

Image used with permission from SickKids Foundation

Response: In this example, a dominant construct portrayed by the image is disability. Disability is frequently linked, in healthcare, with rehabilitation (e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and all that this entails). Think about disability and the way it is commonly talked about and acted upon in the context of rehabilitation. You can do the same with your own image/text and concept/construct, within your own context.

Use the following discussion prompts below to think with a group (ideally) or reflect on your own.

When disability is thought of in terms of rehabilitation:

  1. What are the different roles people can take on when you think about disability in this way? (e.g. as a patient who strives to regain function, as a physiotherapist who ...).  
  2. What roles are rendered invisible or less acceptable? Who is helped or harmed as a result?
  3. What institutions gain power as a result of this way of thinking about disability? What institutions lose power as a result? 
  4. What are some common assumptions embedded in this way of thinking about disability? How do these assumptions limit our thinking -- what do they make invisible or unsay-able?  
  5. What are some other ways one could conceptualize disability? 


In the June 2019 Bayfield Meeting presentation by Ng, S.L. entitled What's so critical about critical pedagogy? results of a study (publication in prepration) testing this approach to teaching critical reflection were shared. These results suggest that teaching critical reflection in this way can achieve the outcome of changed perspective, as measured by how learners talk about patients and care in a novel, future learning activity.

Nixon SA, Yeung E, Shaw JA, Kuper A, Gibson BE. Seven-step framework for critical analysis and its application in the field of physical therapy. Physical Therapy. 2017;97(2):249-57.

To cite this work: Ng S, Baker L, Friesen F. Teaching For Transformation. An Online Supplement. [Internet]. 2018. Available from

Centre for Faculty Development, University of Toronto at St. Michael's Hospital.