Reflecting on reflexivity

Grant, Paula and Basson, Marita (2013) Reflecting on reflexivity. In: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE 2013): Work Integrated Learning-Applying Theory to Practice in Engineering Education, 8-11 Dec 2013, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Abstract

CONTEXT
Reflection in an education setting has the aim of enabling learners to draw on experiences and other evidence to suggest new or improved insights, behaviours and transfer of knowledge and skills to new contexts. The ability to reflect is an important desired graduate attribute supporting a life-long learning attitude, a deeper awareness of the advantages of and need for continuous improvement through self-awareness and an ability to reframe interpretations of complex or ambiguous problems. This ability to critically reflect is also required as part of the learning outcomes by Engineers Australia and the Planning Institute of Australia in their accreditation processes. Reflecting on learning is often associated with the higher order thinking processes of synthesis and evaluation. In practice, it appears as if students have considerable trouble not only understanding what reflection entails, but also putting it in practice when reflecting on the execution or completion of assessment items and other learning experiences.

PURPOSE OR GOAL
The research question this paper seeks to answer is what elements of learning and self students tend to reflect on. The researchers will specifically look for cognitive and metacognitive evidence using the content analysis framework of France Henri. The proposition put forward by the researchers is that students focus on the instructions provided to complete the reflective part of tasks, rather than a sound understanding of the concept of reflection as would be evidenced in reflections that go beyond the scope of instructions and that show elements of metacognition.

APPROACH
This project forms the first phase of a longitudinal project designed to evaluate the written reflections on five different assessment items in an Urban and Regional Planning and an Urban Design course taken by students at the University of Southern Queensland. Students taking this course are mainly from the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying, and specifically from civil and environmental engineering, and surveying and GIS. The de-identified qualitative data will be analysed using Nvivo in an effort to identify themes, concepts and constructs including evidence of higher order thinking. Phase Two will entail training on reflection, scaffolded reflective exercises using feedback for further reflective tasks, followed by the same evaluation strategy. Phase Three will be a comparison of the metacognitive content in the results pre-training and post-training, supplemented by data obtained from interviewing post-training students.

ACTUAL OR ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES
Although current course offerings place an emphasis on reflexivity in assessment it is anticipated that this study will reveal that students have demonstrated superficial reflexivity, lacking critical insight because the value of reflection for future learning has not been effectively conveyed or appreciated and the necessary reflexivity skills have not been acquired as part of course learnings.

CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS/SUMMARY
This paper will provide a benchmark of current student reflection in terms of content and the level of critical synthesis and evaluation that is being demonstrated. The anticipated outcomes may include insights that can be used to review the way in which students are taught about reflection and how the value it has for future learning and professional life is communicated.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2013 Grant and Basson. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source. Outside of these uses, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2014 05:56
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2014 06:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: reflexivity; metacognition; France Henri; content analysis framework
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1702 Cognitive Sciences > 170205 Neurocognitive Patterns and Neural Networks
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/24526

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