I propose that we consider adding opportunities for student reflection on learning to existing curricular and co-curricular activities (through the Writing Portfolio, the Core 10 writing requirement, Senior Seminar), while considering new ways that we might foster a culture of reflection and metacognitive awareness of learning goals and objectives. I am thinking specifically of reflection as articulated by Kathleen Blake Yancey, of a "dialectical process by which we develop and achieve, first, specific goals for learning; second, strategies for reaching those goals; and third, means of determining whether or not we have met those goals or other goals."
Yancey is speaking of reflection as an activity achieved through writing, but other means of recording or externalizing that activity (through oral or visual representation, for example) may be just as beneficial. One purpose of such an exercise is to encourage more active participation on the part of the student learner, who through the process of self-reflection challenges him or herself to achieve identified goals.
While encouraging more active student consideration of and reflection on learning goals and their achievement should help students in all fields of study to see relationships across coursework boundaries, I believe developing this skill is particularly important as we commit to more and more interdisciplinary programs of study. The cross-curricular nature of these programs, a definite strength as it gives students the opportunity to build courses of study that more closely hew to their learning and career objectives, may also challenge students trying to "see the forest for the trees" as they wend their way through their coursework.
By incorporating and encouraging reflection on learning throughout a student's tenure at Millsaps College, I hope that we would see an increase in student engagement in learning opportunities (through tools like the NSSE as well as coursework and other measures), and an increase in transfer of knowledge across coursework. Ultimately, such a project would seek to instill in students a lifelong habit of reflection, a valuable resource in a culture that moves at an increasingly rapid pace.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Reflection in the Writing Classroom. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1998.
Contact person: Anita DeRouen
For a PDF of the proposal, click here.
Comments and Discussion