Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Student Reflection

This week's post revolves around thinking and reflection.
As I remember taking my first psychology class in high school, there were so many concepts that I thought about for the first time.  The concept of "thinking about thinking" especially blew my mind.  I remember hearing that up until this point, my brain had not developed enough to fully understand many of the concepts.  It was a class where there was much to think about and reflect upon.

Reflecting is something that we should all do in life.  It gives us insight and perspective about our lives.  It can help us be more productive and help us realize what things we could do better.  That is where my students come in.

Though I admit, the freshman I teach, don't naturally seem like the students who would spend hours reflecting upon transcendental thoughts of nature... but they might surprise you.  I have started regularly integrating reflection assignments into my classes.  Though I am not teaching psychology, I have seen quite a bit of benefit.  There have been many times where a student has asked why he or she did poorly on a test or assignment.  The teacher reaction is simply to tell them.  Instead, I have tried to get in the habit of asking them what they thought happened.  I have been surprised many times by the detail of their answers.  I have found that many times it only takes a simple question or two, for the reasons to quickly become evident.  There have also been times where this technique has given me a much more thorough answer than I would have given.  Students nearly always share that they should have payed attention on this or that, or that they didn't spend as much time studying as they wanted, or that they simply forgot to study or do the assignment.

Reflection assignments after units, months, or even a semester have been particularly thought provoking.  I have even had students share some thoughts (that they are comfortable with) in front of the class, to help the class as a whole relate.  I think this give students a sense that they are not alone.  Their neighbor may be struggling with the very same thing.  It can also be an opportunity for encouragement from both a teacher and their fellow student.

Many times students don't even realize the significance of their thoughts, but I hope, if even subconsciously, the realization of what they could do better, will lead to substantive improvement.
Try it... and see what you can learn.

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