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Guided reflection in physics class

March 18, 2015

Earlier this month, I saw this tweet from Andy Rundquist:

The paper Andy links, “Attending to lifelong Learning skills through guided reflection in a physics class“, by Dimitri Dounas-Frazer and Danile Reinholtz is well worth reading. In it, Dounas-Frazer and Reinholtz describe how they have developed a weekly survey that students in their intro physics classes UC Boulder complete that helps students to developing an ability to regulate their own learning, by asking them to specifically identify a experience from the previous week they wish to improve on, a goal for improvement, and a plan for reaching that goal.

In the paper, they talk about how the Guided Reflection From they developed was inspired by the work of the Compass Project at UC Berkeley, “an organization whose mission is to improve equity in the UC Berkeley Physics department through sociocultural support and other strategies.” In my reading, I got very intrigued by this organization and found myself spending a lot of digging through their website to learn more about it. One of the most interesting things I came across was this Self Evaluation Rubric, which helped to inform the Guided Reflection form developed at UC Boulder.

Screen Shot 2015 03 18 at 10 52 54 PM

Screen Shot 2015 03 18 at 10 53 03 PM

All of this got me very excited to learn more about the actual Guided Reflection Form that Donuas-Frazer and Reinholtz use in their classes, so I reached out directly to them and they were kind enough to share both a PDF of the form, and the actual form as a Google document.

View this document on Scribd

I love how detailed both the rubric and guided reflection form are; they make explicit so many of the skills and habits that are essential to success in both physics class and life in general, and they clearly explains the importance of each of these skills. I would love to have my students do this every week as part of the routine of our class, and I think not only would this lead to tremendous improvement in my students ability to self reflect, and hopefully, their success in their course, but I also think I would find great benefit in reading these reflections and being able to see my students’ growth. Finally, these reflections would be a tremendous boon when it comes time to write comments and recommendations for these students.

All of this gets me thinking about how I might use this form in my own class, and thinking about one possible tweak related to an observation that the authors made that “rarely incorporated instructor feedback into their action plans, at least explicitly.”

I wonder if it might help to recast this form as a letter. Could I set up scripts in the Google form (or some other platform) so that when a student completes the form, and presses submit, it generates an email that gets sent to both me and the student. The email is styled so that it includes all of the input the student entered into the form, but it is in the form of an actual letter to me, their teacher. Then when I respond, I would be responding to a letter, and students would have a copy of the information they shared and the plans they described in the guided reflection form. Might this generate a more conversational approach that would enhance their ability to self reflect and follow through on their plans?

Both of the authors are very interested in hearing from anyone who is interested in using guided reflection and these tools in their classes, and they will be speaking more about their work at an upcoming meeting of the Global Physics Department on April 15.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2015 5:49 pm

    Hi, Mr. Burke. My name is Brandi Wescovich. I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am currently enrolled in the EDM 310 course. I am in the Elementary Education program and I liked reading your blog post about self evaluation and guided reflection. I plan to use this in my future classroom. This will help me determine who does not understand each concept that I teach. I like how you included the actual documents that you used. I would defiantly tell other future teachers about this resource.

  2. September 3, 2015 1:36 pm

    I’m sorry I just saw this. What a great idea this is! I think it could work for all levels of students K-12, into and through college, graduate school, and for people that aren’t in school anymore. I like the idea you had about forming it as a letter. Have you had any success in using Google forms to do that? I love the rubric. I think it could work well for my high school students to encourage reflective thinking even before they get to college. I think I will try to come up with something like this for my students. I wonder how open students are about these kinds of things. Making it more of an anonymous thing might help students be more honest about it. Is there a way to have a Google form say, “yes, this person turned one in” but you not know whose you were looking at when you replied back?

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