Development of a New Framework to Guide, Assess, and Evaluate Student Reflections in a University Sustainability Course

Keywords: Bloom’s taxonomy, Experiential learning, Reflection, Sustainability education, Grounded Theory

Abstract

Many institutions of higher education increasingly place a focus on various forms of experiential education. While much work has been done in this and related areas, the resources currently available are not sufficient to effectively guide, assess, and evaluate student learning. Personal reflections can be used as a tool to assess student learning through experience. However, guiding students through the process, assessing their work, and providing an evaluation presents challenges for educators. A new framework, a robust rubric, and a guide that students and evaluators can use to support experiential learning through reflection are provided. The framework and resources are based on a grounded investigation of student reflections, which were compared to various evaluation models from the literature. The resources discussed in this paper have already been used in practice for over four years and with over 1,000 students. The purpose of this paper is to describe the journey leading to the development of this framework, to provide a description of the rubric and guide, and to share the lessons learned. This framework and accompanying materials will hopefully be a useful resource for instructors and students wishing to support reflection and experiential learning.

Author Biography

Antonio Paez, McMaster University
Professor, School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario

References

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., . . . Wittrock, M. C. (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Abridgetd Edition ed.). New York: Addison, Wesley Longman, Inc.

Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2001(90), 9-18. doi:10.1002/ace.16

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3-21. doi:10.1007/BF00988593

Grossman, R. (2009). Structures for Facilitating Student Reflection. College Teaching, 57(1), 15-22. doi:10.3200/CTCH.57.1.15-22

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. (2015). Learning Outcomes Assessment: A Practitioner's Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.heqco.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/heqco.LOAhandbook_Eng_2015.pdf

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. (2016). A Practical Guide for Work-integrated Learning. Retrieved from http://www.heqco.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/HEQCO_WIL_Guide_ENG_ACC.pdf

Kember, D., McKay, J., Sinclair, K., & Wong, F. K. Y. (2008). A four-category scheme for coding and assessing the level of reflection in written work. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(4), 369-379.

Kirk, K., & Thomas, J. (2003). The Lifestyle Project. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(5), 496-499.

Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2009). The Learning Way: Meta-cognitive Aspects of Experiential Learning. Simulation & Gaming, 40(3), 297-327. doi:10.1177/1046878108325713

Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (Second ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Leijen, A., Valtna, K., Leijen, D., & Pedaste, M. (2012). How to determine the quality of students' reflections? Studies in Higher Education, 37(2), 203-217.

Liberal Party of Canada. (2015). A New Plan for a Strong Middle Class. Retrieved from https://www.liberal.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/New-plan-for-a-strong-middle-class.pdf

Livingston, J. A. (1997). Metacognition: An Overview. Retrieved from http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/cep564/metacog.htm

Moon, J. A. (1999). Reflection in Learning & Professional Development. New York: Routledge Falmer.

Oxford University Press. (2017). Thought. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/thought

Oxford University Press b. (2017). Feeling. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/feeling

Ryan, M. (2011). Improving reflective writing in higher education: a social semiotic perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 99-111.

The Premier's Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel. (2016). Building the Workforce of Tomorrow. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/hsw_rev_engaoda_webfinal_july6.pdf
Published
2019-03-29
How to Cite
Whalen, K., & Paez, A. (2019). Development of a New Framework to Guide, Assess, and Evaluate Student Reflections in a University Sustainability Course. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 7(1), 55-77. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.7.1.5
Section
Articles