Good practice 3: Stimulating learner reflection in the classroom

Last year, I changed my classroom educational approach. I wanted to offer each of my students the possibility to compose their own learning route. You can read more about this in my article ‘Good practice 1‘.

Another important aspect of my day-to-day educational is the ability of giving my students valuable and personal feedback. My aim is to stimulate the making of errors. But to effectively learn from those errors my students need to reflect on their learning and the choices that they have made along the way. In this article, I present an approach with which I hope to introduce a more profound learner reflection attitude in my classes. In this approach, I make use of an interactive and reflection form, in the digital G Suite environment.

All my students are invited, after each summative test, to reflect on their test results and on their learning behavior. This activity always takes place inside my classroom, and in my presence. My students get back their test papers, together with a correction model and a copy of the original test. I ask my students to open and fill in the digital reflection form. This form consists of three parts.

In the first part, students are provided with their personal test results, on a detailed level. As an analysis of each test is a part of my day-to-day process (more on my test analysis can be found in this article), this detailed and personal data is already available to me.
After filling in their student number, all their results appear in the reflection form. For each problem, the students try to ascertain what has gone wrong. There are fourteen keywords to choose from. These keywords correlate with the skills, procedures, and knowledge that a student of my subject (physics) have to master. Other subjects may prefer other keywords.

I choose to order the keywords into four categories: orientation, planning, processing, and ending. Each keyword has a short description: ‘I did not recognize the situation’, ‘I choose the wrong approach’, ‘I forgot to write down the appropriate unit’, etc. After filling in this part of the form recurrent errors immediately become more visible.

The second part offers a more detailed view of the test results. Students can see how they have performed on the test as a whole, and on a more detailed level. The categories selected are also highly subject-dependant. For my subject, physics, I zoom in on their performance on quantitative vs. qualitative problems, on reproduction vs. production problems. And they can compare their scores for different subjects matters (for instance different chapters).

This self-evaluation results already gives my students valuable information. In the last part of the reflection form, they are actively invited to couple these results, and their reflections from the past, with actions that they will take in the future. Four questions are asked:

Test?: Did your test results agree with your expectations before you started making the test? Do you see recurrent errors in your test results? Does it show deviations that stand out? (for instance: a high score on quantitative problems, but a low score on qualitative problems).

Top?: Where are you proud of, looking back on your learning approach in this last period? What were your resolutions in your last reflections? Were you able to meet your aspirations? Were you able to grow, as a learner?

Tip?: which learning-related choices made were, 1n hindsight, less than ideal? Why did you able to meet your aspirations? And why?

The last question is the most important one. It is where my students have to reflect on their past behavior and formulate improvements for the future.

Next?: What are you going to change in your learning approach and your preparation for the next test? Can you formulate factual goals which you would like to reach?

The students fill in their answers in a Google Spreadsheet document. After submitting their answers the forms are shared with me. I have the possibility to give detailed feedback on their reflection. As we are sharing our communication in G Suite as an additional benefit the reflection, together with my feedback, stays available for my students, for future reference.

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