How to Bring Critical Reflection into Redesigned Assignments in Remote Teaching

Adding a critical reflection component to an assessment is useful in remote teaching for several reasons:

  • Critical reflection improves cognitive and affective learning by allowing students to articulate and codify their experiences (Di Stefano et al., 2016)
  • Critical reflection is, by definition, a personal reflection on one’s experience; it would be difficult for a student to borrow a critical reflection response from the Internet or from another student

What is Critical Reflection?

According to Rogers (2001), critical reflection includes the following elements:

  • Students are actively engaged
  • Students reflect on a concrete experience
  • Students explore their beliefs and assumptions
  • The reflection activity contributes to new knowledge

How Can You Incorporate Critical Reflection into An Assignment?

Critical reflection assignments usually involve students creating a written (or recorded) response about a learning experience that occurred. Critical reflection assignments usually include reflective questions as writing prompts. Responses can be fairly short (e.g., 250 words). Critically reflective writing is typically more personal and less formal than other academic writing and uses first-person pronouns (“I,” “we,” “my,” “our”). Effective critical reflection goes beyond simply reporting what happened and includes ‘the interrogation of material in conscious awareness by means of searching questions’ (p.271).

Consider using the following questions to guide your students’ critical reflections:

  • The DEAL Model: Describe / Examine / Articulate Learning
    • Describe the experience objectively
      • What did you experience?
      • Where were you?
      • When did this experience take place?
      • What did you do?
    • Examine the experience from a personal, academic, and/or civic perspective
      • How did this experience make you feel?
      • What assumptions/expectations did you bring to the experience?
      • What were you trying to accomplish?
      • In what ways did this experience relate to the course material?
      • How does this experience enhance your knowledge of the material? Was your knowledge challenged or reinforced? In what ways?
      • In what ways were you able to apply knowledge or skills learned in the course to your experience?
    • Articulate Learning
      • What did you learn?
      • How did you learn it, specifically?
      • Why does this learning matter?

 

  • The Three-Stage Model: What? / So What? / Now What?
    • What?
      • What is the problem or issue we are facing?
      • What happened?
      • What did you notice?
    • So what?
      • Why does this experience matter?
      • Why is it important?
      • What critical questions does this experience bring up?
      • What conclusions can we draw from this experience?
    • Now what?
      • What have you learned? How will you use this insight moving forward
      • What will you do to move forward?
      • Based on your experience, how does your learning change?

 

How to Assess Critical Reflection

We suggest using a simple rubric (such as the example below) to assess critical reflection responses.

Critical Reflection Rubric 

1 point

2 points

3 points

4 points

Conveys inadequate evidence of reflection on own work in response to the self-assessment questions posed. Personal growth and awareness are not evident and/or demonstrates a neutral experience with negligible personal impact. Lacks enough inferences, examples, personal insights and challenges, and/or future implications are overlooked.

Conveys limited evidence of reflection on own work in response to the self-assessment questions posed. Demonstrates less than adequate personal growth and awareness through few or simplistic inferences made, examples, insights, and/or challenges that are not well developed.  Minimal thought of the future implications of current experience.

Conveys evidence of reflection on own work with a personal response to the self-assessment questions posed. Demonstrates satisfactory personal growth and awareness through some inferences made, examples, insights, and challenges.  Some thought of the future implications of current experience.

Conveys strong evidence of reflection on own work with a personal response to the self-assessment questions posed. Demonstrates significant personal growth and awareness of deeper meaning through inferences made, examples, well developed insights, and substantial depth in perceptions and challenges. Synthesizes current experience into future implications.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Bourner, T. (2003). Assessing reflective practice. Education and Training,  45(5), 267 - 272.

Rogers, R. R. (2001). Refection in higher education: A concept analysis. Innovative Higher Education, 26 (1)

What, So What, Now What? W³. Liberating Structures: Including and Unleashing Everyone. Retrieved from http://www.liberatingstructures.com/9-what-so-what-now-what-w/