The Art of Self-Reflective Learning




“Furthermore, in the more thoughtful portfolio assignments, students are asked to reflect on their work, to engage in self-assessment and goal-setting. Those are two of the most authentic skills students need to develop to successfully manage in the real world. Research has found that students in classes that emphasize improvement, progress, effort and the process of learning rather than grades and normative performance are more likely to use a variety of learning strategies and have a more positive attitude toward learning. Yet in education we have shortchanged the process of learning in favor of the products of learning. Students are not regularly asked to examine how they succeeded or failed or improved on a task or to set goals for future work; the final product and evaluation of it receives the bulk of the attention in many classrooms. Consequently, students are not developing the metacognitive skills that will enable them to reflect upon and make adjustments in their learning in school and beyond.”   Authentic Assessment Toolbox    Created by Jon Mueller

Reading these words in the assignment for this week I was challenged to pause and reflect upon my learning in this class so far.  To do so, I referred to both the syllabus where the instructor outlined our learning goals and to my personal learning goals.  Additionally, I looked at some of my earlier reflections and some small achievements made in participating in the PB & J Project.  Granted, my “progress” may be less than others and my “skills acquisition” may be limited at this point but there has been achievement, especially if one considers where for me this journey began.

To use another travel analogy, I now find myself “shifting gears” somewhat.  Whereas in similar learning experiences I previously tended to be far more focused on the end product, namely the achievement of a final grade, I now find myself far more “driven” to enjoy this learning process than on the achievement of a grade.  It is simultaneously frightening and liberating.  Whatever the grade, I’d like to think that upon completing this course I will have learned far more about the art of self-reflection and its benefit to my learning.

“As a skill, reflection is not something that can be mastered in one or two attempts. Developing good reflective skills requires instruction and modeling, lots of practice, feedback and reflection. As many of you have probably encountered, when students are first asked to respond to prompts such as “I selected this piece because…” they may respond with “I think it is nice.” Okay, that’s a start. But we would like them to elaborate on that response. The fact that they did not initially elaborate is probably not just a result of resistance or reluctance. Students need to learn how to respond to such prompts. They need to learn how to effectively identify strengths and weaknesses, to set realistic goals for themselves and their work, and to develop meaningful strategies to address those goals. Students often have become dependent upon adults, particularly teachers, to evaluate their work. They need to learn self-assessment.”  Authentic Assessment Toolbox   Created by Jon Mueller

This next week should be interesting.  I will attempt something in our group project that I consider far beyond my capabilities.  I have done my homework, I have the content and I know what I am trying to convey, however, I am attempting to present this information in a context that is altogether new to me.  I may fail but even if I do I will have learned something in the process.  To frame this experience I’ve come up with what I will refer to as the “A’s” in the art of self-reflective learning.  These, I hope will guide me as I venture forth in this learning journey.

 “A’s” in the Art of Self Reflective Learning

1)      Assess learning continuously and Adjust efforts and practices when necessary – Along the way, if something isn’t working, I need to consider how I might adjust my learning goals, my efforts or a combination of these.  Simply being overwhelmed and frustrated is not productive or enjoyable and ultimately may not result in learning regardless of the end product.

2)      Apply learning experiences to real life situations.  This seems particularly relevant to the group work.  While collaborating with my team, it helped to remember Kolb’s learning styles and how they influenced our varying approaches to the group projects.  This has a very relevant application to the work environment and navigating the experiences will likely strengthen my abilities to collaborate with others in the workplace.

3)      Accept life’s detours, delays and distractions.  They are inevitable and they, too, can be “learning experiences”!

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One Response to The Art of Self-Reflective Learning

  1. bwatwood says:

    Very cool….I like your three A’s! Might I even say “awesome”! 🙂

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