Reflections on learning

The path to becoming a self-directed lifelong learner requires the ability to reflect on one’s personal approach to learning- how to set goals, what strategies work, which ones don’t. As faculty in higher ed we need to help our students “learn about learning”, and an initial step is to provide opportunities for self-reflection.

In Prompts to Help Students Reflect on How They Approach Learning Maryellen Weimer includes a number of short prompts that could be used for journaling, short assignments, or as an individual activity at the beginning of class.

Implementation within Moodle

A simple approach for personal journaling within a Moodle course site, is to use Moodle Groups to create groups of 1 for each individual student. Then the instructor/ID creates a Journal discussion forum, specifying that each Group (of one) has a private forum space available to the student and the faculty member.  However, the instructor only needs to add the prompt for all students one time, making sure to set clear expectations for expected length and deadlines for posting. When posts have been made, it’s a simple process for the instructor to scan through all posts and make comments or clarify incorrect assumptions, as appropriate.

Having all posts throughout the semester made in the same space will allow you to note the progression of an individual student’s views. While this would not be an assignment that is graded for content, it can be factored into the participation grade as a simple yes or no.

Formative assessment of your course

The use of reflective posts in your course also provides you a means of formative assessment for your teaching. Are students finding the course content relevant to their educational goals, are there specific assignments or concepts that are difficult, are there missing skills or knowledge that you’d assumed they’d have coming into your course? Instead of waiting to get this information in your end-of-course ratings, you can work with your ID to clarify certain aspects of your course or provide additional content-specific resources to support student learning.

Getting started with self-reflective journaling

Take a look at the specific prompts suggested in the Weimer article linked above or come up with your own prompts and then talk to your ID about the best way to integrate or modify this strategy for your own courses.

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