My Current Challenge

. . . is to learn how to teach reflection writing more effectively. I teach history so I usually want students to reflect on what they have learned from a text or texts. I want the piece of writing to be grounded in the reading, but I do not want it to be mere summary. Currently, too many students fall into one of two extremes – either they write something only vaguely tied to the reading (leading one to suspect they didn’t even finish reading the text) or they summarize the text, rigorously citing every detail and providing numerous quotations but without ever sharing their own thoughts or reactions. The better students more often fall for the second trap, and the less well prepared or motivated students tend to fall into the first.

I’ve tried various strategies to solve this problem, including direct instruction and the use of examples from past semesters to illustrate what makes a piece of reflective writing strong or weak, but nothing has yet quite worked as well as I would like. I want student to focus their writing on their own thoughts/observations/reactions but I want those thoughts grounded in the readings.

I’ve been wondering if OER could help here. Perhaps the next time I teach the course, I could have students compose a reflection and then make a video explaining how their piece fulfills the expectations of the assignment? Then those videos could be made available to future students. Not sure this would work, but I am considering it.

1 Comment

  1. Jenna Sheffield

    I think a lot of instructors, including myself, struggle with helping students compose effective reflections. I’m surprised that showing them examples of students’ past reflections hasn’t worked well. Have you tried showing them a not-so-great reflection, perhaps along with a rubric, and asking them to collaborate on how to improve it? Doing this, and maybe having a conversation about the *purpose* of reflection, might help. I think there’s potential that OER could help. What if you created a reflection rubric, sample reflection, etc., and left them open for students to edit and critique? Here are some good resources on reflection: https://cla.purdue.edu/academic/english/icap/assessment/purpose.html. Mary and I will continue to think on how OER might help here.

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