contributed by: Joshua Holden
go back to category: Reading & Writing

Summary


On each day’s homework, the students are asked to write reflections.

Class information


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) is a 4-year private science and engineering college. Calculus at RHIT is taught in sections of 25-30 students, 10 week quarters, 5 days/week, one class period/day. My sections are taught in a tablet room. Each day incorporates some active learning. Students are math, science, and engineering majors. They are very good at numeric and symbolic manipulation but have varying degrees of comfort with more conceptual aspects of mathematics. On the whole they tend not to like writing assignments.

Logistics


On each day’s homework, the students are asked to write reflections.
  • Very short –one sentence before and after each problem
  • Specifications graded (done/not)

Description of activity


The students were given the following instructions in the syllabus:

Before each homework problem I would like you to write a brief sentence indicating how confident you are right after you read the problem. After each homework problem I would like you to write a brief sentence indicating how confident you are that you solved it correctly or why you think that you did not solve it correctly.

Comments


Development of this activity was funded by the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE).

Background/Theory


This exercise was taken from Linda Nilson's Creating Self-regulated Learners, Chapter 5. Reflective thinking can deepen student learning, but students need guidance and practice to develop it. According to How Learning Works by Ambrose, et. al., “It is important to give students an opportunity to reflect on assignments. Facilitating their reflection with specific questions can help structure the process to support motivation.” and “To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.”


Related Activities


This activity fed into the once per week "Mind Dump" activity and the "Exam Reflection" activity.

Aims


Immediate goals for this exercise include:
  • Self-assessment of knowledge and skills
  • Preparing the way for reflection

Broader goals include:
  • Reflection for self-assessment and metacognition
  • Transition to college
  • Frequent reinforcement
  • Student tools for the future
  • Low workload –sustainable

Feedback/Assessment


Homework reflections were sometimes very superficial, but a few students were very detailed.