Having taught a level 4 undergraduate Business Management and Law programme using experiential methods I conducted a pilot study in the use of two-way (student and teacher) reflective journals within the classroom. These were not assessed, nor were the students directed in terms of content. Rather, they were free to write what they wished to, in order to reflect in their own, meaningful way. I provided each student with a physical notebook and built in a 15-minute reflective period at the end of every seminar. This was contrasted with a second seminar group who were allocated individual google documents for them to reflect upon at any time during the week. The research was carried out at two Higher Education institutions within level 4 cohorts.
The purpose of this research was to investigate what happened when students underwent reflection immediately following experiential learning, whether they responded to teacher interaction and to what extent they engaged in the reflective process despite not being awarded any formal academic credit for their participation. It also examined the difference between physical, paper reflective diaries and cloud-based reflective diaries.
This was conducted as a piece of action-research and is a pilot study which forms part of a larger, naturalistic inquiry which is investigating whether (and to what extent) experiential education can aide the learning and engagement of undergraduate Business Management students.
The findings and conclusion I can draw from this pilot study were that student reflections tended to fall into one of six categories; Design of their own learning, expressing concern, the need for self-change, activity feedback, external problems and feedback on peers. The reflective journals created a medium to air the student voice, offered me the opportunity to build rapport with the students on an individual basis through the interactive nature of the reflections and prompted students to consider what concrete experiences they had been part of and to frame the meaning of them in their own context. In addition to this, it can be noted that students who reflect via cloud-based, online reflective diaries are able to reflect at any point during the week and therefore write at greater length, with more pause for thought and consider approaching the tutor as and when thoughts emerge.
Viewers of the presentation will be given the opportunity to see how reflective journals can aide the experiential learning process and will be offered the chance to discover differences between paper-based and cloud-based methods of student reflections.
Boud, D. Keogh, R. & Walker, D. (1985) Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, London, Kogan Page
Clinchy, B. (1995) A connected approach to the teaching of developmental psychology, Teaching of Psychology, 22:2, pp 100-104
Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods, Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, UK
Heaslip, G, Donovan, P. and Cullen, J. (2013) Student response systems and learner engagement in large classes, Active Learning in Higher Education, pp 1-14
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall
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