Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 19: Reflecting on Our Learning

In a writing class, there are ample opportunities to get students to reflect on their learning. I even introduce the concept of meta-cognition and its benefits (not that I'm an expert!) to developmental writing students so they know why we occasionally take time to think about our process and why we learn.

Three methods of getting students to reflect on their learning (and one that I use the most)

--I start off my developmental composition courses with an activity called Academic Survival 101. Instead of listing a lot of resources and strategies that the students should pull when they hit a rough spot, it asks them to reflect on what impact their life (work, family, friends, other classes, personal challenges) has on their stated goals for the class and the college. They also reflect on why improving their writing skills will help them in other classes or a job.

I ask them to then think about how their time is used. I base this part on an On Course "Quadrants of Time Use" activity. I kinda cringe at the reductiveness (reductivity?) of the quadrants, but having done this a couple of times I think the students appreciate the eye-opener of how time is spent.

Finally, they come up with a plan and identify their resources so they can attain their stated goals in class and college. Hopefully, this self-generated self-awareness will translate into sincere investment in the course and to their learning.

We come back to this Academic Survival plan periodically so, hopefully, their goals stay fresh in their mind and they reconsider a) whether the plan works and b) whether they're really sticking to it.

--I stole another reflection idea from Bayan Professor, who is also doing this challenge. The idea of taking a moment at the end of the class and having students quickly reflect on a concept we learned, or leaving it open-ended and asking them what is something they've learned, how they will use it, and an option to ask a question for clarification. It takes less than five minutes, and it lets me know whether they got it and whether they see the concept as helpful in some way.

--Since I've started teaching I've asked students to reflect on how the writing process is going at various stages. Before submitting a rough draft for feedback, for instance, they answer a few questions such as, "What is one thing you learned about writing or how you write (by completing this draft)"? They do this at every stage of the writing process.

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