Thoughts on Teaching – Series on Student Reflection, Part 1 – 6/24/2020

This is the first substantive post of my new series on student reflection. I have detailed where this series comes from in my previous post introducing the series.

In this post, I am going to describe the student reflection assignment that I have used for 4 semesters now. Later posts in the series will deal with why I use student reflection (Part 2), the student response to these reflections (Part 3), my thoughts on how they are going and what they can help with (Part 4), and then what use they can be in our new pandemic world (Part 5).

I started using student reflection as a part of my hybrid classes starting in Fall 2018. For the first year of using them, they were more aimed at making sure the students were paying attention in class, but they slowly morphed into something more than just a reflection on the class. Over the summer of 2019, I made the decision to move student reflection into my online course and to change up the use of them in the hybrid class.

In Part 2 of this series, I will delve more into why I use them and why I made the changes. For now, I just want to give you the format of them.

Each week, my students are asked to submit a response to the following 5 questions. I have no specific word count on this assignment, and I grade only on if they complete it.

  1. What did you do in the class in the past week? (After the first week, I add a second question: How does that match up with what you said you would do in the previous week’s reflection?)
  2. What are you planning on doing for this class in the upcoming week?
  3. This question relates to something going on inside the course. This can be something like:
    1. Have you started working on a particular assignment yet?
    2. Reminder to make sure they know something is coming up, like the drop deadline.
    3. Question about how they responded to a specific assignment, especially if I am trying something new.
  4. This question relates to something going on outside of the course, such as:
    1. How are the other courses going that you are taking?
    2. If it is later in the semester, what advice would they now give themselves at the beginning of the semester?
    3. What is the best piece of advice they have received about succeeding in college?
    4. What one change would they make in the course if they had the ability?
    5. Are you planning on attending/participating in this particular thing going on at the college?
    6. What are your plans for after you finish the course/finish at the college
    7. And, especially after the COVID-19 shutdown, this question became one about how they were doing and if they needed help with anything.
  5. Lastly, is there anything else you want to tell me, either about yourself, about the class, or about something interesting in your life? This last question is your free space to write whatever you want to. If you do not want to write anything, that is fine, but I wanted to give everyone some space each week to write whatever they want with no judgment on my part. I will read it, but that is all, unless you ask me for advice or have questions.

So, for each student (I start out the semester with about 200-220 and end up with about 170-180), I get a response back to these questions every week. As noted at the beginning of this post, I will be exploring aspects of this assignment as I move forward with this series.

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About Scott Williams

I am an educator, community-college instructor, thinker, husband, parent of four, student of life, player of video games, voracious reader, restless wanderer, and all-around guy.

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