The students in our study repeatedly had to reflect on how and what they have learned as the semester unfolded, and received continuous feedback from their teachers on their performances. It was hypothesized that self-reflection and academic achievement influenced each other interactively , i. Second, we were interested to investigate which type of reflection i.
Participants included applied science students in their first year of studies at a polytechnic in Singapore in the academic year — They were enrolled in three-year science diploma courses such as Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biotechnology. The polytechnic at which the research was carried out organizes its curriculum according principles of problem-based learning Schmidt and Moust Students work collaboratively in teams of four to five, with learning centred on problems relevant to their domain of study.
They work on one problem each day. The problem is initially discussed in the morning, followed by individual study. At the end of the day, information gathered is shared and elaborated upon. No didactic teaching takes place nor is there any form of direct instruction. One tutor supervises the student teams in a larger classroom. His or her role is to facilitate student learning Alwis All the courses offered are part of a three-year curriculum. Furthermore, tutors will provide feedback to students on their learning outcomes and processes of daily learning.
Each student is required to respond to one journal question per day. Tutor-asked journal questions required students to be reflective about their learning and development. Students respond to a different reflection journal question each day during a 5-day workweek. The purpose of writing the reflection journal is to encourage and record self-reflection about how learning took place and what was learned.
Students also need to take four knowledge acquisition tests per module, which are taken at different points i. The tests are conducted in a supervised environment, similar to an end-of-course examination and require students to answer at least three open-structured questions. Students are tested on their ability to understand and apply what they have learned. The classroom performance and knowledge acquisition grades were first converted to scaled numerical values on a five-point scale.
The averages of the knowledge acquisition grades for that of semesters 1 and 2 were computed and used for the analyses. The tutor grades were first converted to scaled numerical values on a five-point scale. The software uses advanced linguistic theory technologies that extract and classify key concepts from student journal responses. These technologies analyze content as a set of phrases and sentences whose grammatical structure provides a context for the meaning of a response.
Self-reflection and academic performance: is there a relationship?
The software enables the coding and categorization of journal responses in a fraction of the time required to do the job manually. Another benefit is that the categorization of responses is done consistently and reliably; the responses are analyzed in an iterative manner. Unlike human coders, the software classifies the same response in the same categories every time. The first step in content analysis is to extract key terms and ideas from the journal responses. The engine uses linguistic algorithms and resources to identify relevant concepts. This means that extraction does not treat a response as a set of unrelated words, but it identifies key words, compound words, and patterns in the text.
Pre-coded definitions were the linguistic resources used to extract terms from the journal responses. The extracted terms were grouped into categories by the software. As used in content analysis, a category refers to a group of closely related concepts, opinions or attitudes. The software relies upon three linguistic-based techniques that take into account the root meanings of the extracted terms and their relationship between sets of similar objects or opinions: term derivation , term inclusion and semantic networks SPSS , p.
Because these techniques are complementary to one another, all of them are used for categorizing the extracted terms. The term derivation technique creates categories by taking a term and finding other terms that are related to it by analyzing whether any of the terms components are morphologically related. The term inclusion technique uses algorithms to create categories by taking a term and finding other terms that include it.
In order to analyze the journal responses in a more meaningful fashion, a custom library was created. This library contained domain-specific words and terms with synonyms that arose from the modules taken by all first-year students. In this particular institution, all students were required to take two mathematics and computer applications modules in their first year of studies. These modules consisted of several tasks which asked students to create spreadsheets and basic computer programs to perform simple numerical functions.
The categories that were automatically generated were also renamed to capture their essential meanings. Data used were for the analyses were student reflection journals for an entire week during Week 3 of the first semester and again during Week 14 of the second semester of the academic year — Data from Week 1 was not considered as it being the start of a new academic year, a steady state in the student enrolment had yet to be reached as students were still appealing to enter or change polytechnics. The student enrolment figures reached a steady state by the second week.
Identical categories were generated for both sets of data. Weak correlational values r were obtained r ranging from. Week 3 was in semester 1 at the beginning of academic year whereas Week 14 was in semester 2 towards the end of the academic year. Weak to moderately strong correlations were obtained r ranging from. Higher correlations for week 14 were reported as compared to those for week 3.
Total internal reflection
A method that compares correlations drawn from the same sample as described by Cohen and Cohen, was used to test for significant differences between them p. Results of the analysis reveal that the differences in the correlations between the coding categories and classroom performance grades were not statistically significant. Similar findings were evident between the coding categories and knowledge acquisition test grades. The findings suggest that the type of reflection i.
Data used in the analyses was collected once at the beginning of the academic year, and again at the end of the academic year. The findings also indicate that the type of reflection, i. What are some plausible explanations for these findings? First, there is this possibility that the weak relationship between self-reflection and academic performance is because students are generally poor at self-reflection. They simply are not able to reflect on their own performance and the subject matter taught effectively, for instance, because they have insufficient access to their own learning process.
However, the study by McCrindle and Christensen reported that undergraduates in a first-year biology course who kept reflection journals showed more sophisticated conceptions of learning, greater awareness of cognitive strategies, and demonstrated the construction of more complex and related knowledge structures when learning from text, as compared to those who did not engage in journal keeping. Furthermore, they also performed significantly better on the final examination for the course.
Hence, a general dismissal of the idea that students can be competent self-reflectors may be premature. A second possibility is that the weak inter-relationship between self-reflection and academic performance is attributed by the fact students in this particular study who are somewhat lacking the experience of self-reflecting on how and what they have learned.
Although some authors e. Mann et al. Another possibility for the findings could be due to differences between responses in weeks 3 and 14 may be caused by differences in the tutor-asked journal questions. To test of the findings reported are time-dependent, we examined post - hoc the data of students journal responses written in two other weeks, i. Furthermore, test of differences in the correlations between the learning categories and that of classroom performance grades week 4: r ranging from.
This suggests the measurement stability of our findings, since the results from content analyses using data from other weeks of the academic year and the correlations between textual categories and academic grades were similar to those obtained from the data sets from weeks 3 and The reader may remember that students write reflection journals in response to a question by their tutor.
These questions differ per day and they also differ between tutors. To test whether the difference in self-reflection as a function of time was influenced by the specific tutor-asked questions, we subjected all the questions asked in both weeks 3 and 14 to text analyses using the same content analysis approach of student journal responses. In total, more than journal questions were asked by approximately tutors involved in taking the first-year applied science students.
Identical categories e. Comparisons between the means of the frequency counts for the categories by means of paired sample t tests revealed that none of their differences were statistically significant. Therefore, the differences in the journal responses in weeks 3 and 14 were not due to differences in the tutor-asked journal questions.
Moon and Selfe et al. Our study also suggests that self-reflection skill cannot be easily learned through extended experience and the provision of continuous feedback from their tutors. There is an underlying assumption in the literature that students who are better at self-reflection, perform better academically. To date, there is no finding to refute or support this assumption. Such a finding may suggest that curricular interventions to teach self-reflection are futile, and should be abandoned.
However, the literature reveals that self-reflection does improve learning in other ways see Mann et al. The findings from the present study are to a large extent, in agreement with what Moon and Selfe et al. However, the results from existing studies were more subjective, since they involved manual coding of student journal responses. Further, existing studies did not include comparison of findings over time, casting some doubts over the reliability and validity of their results. The present study has sought ways in arriving at more reliable and valid measurements.
We did not rely on single reflection journals of students and had adopted an automated coding procedure to analyse the responses. As such, the problem of inter-coder reliability was absent. Contrary to most studies in journal writing with limitations such as small sample size, non-continuous engagement in the task of writing journals or infrequent feedback given by teachers, we collected data from over first-year applied science students.
Furthermore, in this context, students engaged continuously in the task of journal writing and receive timely and regular feedback on their learning from their tutors. Some limitations should however, be noted. A shortcoming of the present study is the partial overlap of the instruments used: reflection journal, tutor judgment and knowledge acquisition test, which may have produced, in part, the weak to moderate correlations between the coding categories and academic grades.
A study employing identical instruments for should certainly be conducted to verify our findings. The text analysis software is not a panacea, and although using software to perform content analysis removes inter-coder reliability as a concern, it is not without its shortcomings. Benioff is an advocate of daily meditation. Benioff credits meditation as part of what helped him build Salesforce to its current state.
During his meditation, Benioff recounts what he is thankful for and tries to empty his mind, opening it up to future possibilities. Many successful people attribute their productivity in part to time spent meditating. You can meditate solo or as a group. You can use the focus that meditation provides to then channel your thoughts towards reflection once you are done. Meditation has a large following in both Eastern and Western cultures. There are many resources to help you if you are beginning to explore meditation.
Both iOS and Android offer a number meditation applications in their app stores. You might also look into meditating with a coworker or friend, or joining a local mediation group. You can listen to music, use guided meditation, or look for a quiet area and engage in your own reflective meditation. She created over 2, works of art over her lifetime. Her legacy is firmly rooted in the many landscape paintings and drawings she created. She was known to prefer spending time in nature, drawing both personal solace and vision for new works of art.
The benefits of spending time in nature are well documented. Nature relaxes people, increases positive moods and facilitates a calm state of reflection. Researchers have documented both cognitive and emotional benefits to spending time in nature. They have also documented that we are spending less time in nature than previous generations. We need to make a conscious effort to spend time in nature, away from our desks and computer screens. You can spend time journaling in a park, hiking a trail or sitting with your thoughts by the side of a river.
Wake up early to watch the sun rise, or take your lunch outside of the office. My personal favorite is to have a walking meeting with my colleagues, where we stroll along a path next to a local canal. We combine exercise and nature to stimulate our reflective conversations.
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They keep their journal on a nightstand next to their bed and try to find 15 minutes a day to journal. Their main purpose in keeping the journal is to track significant events and decisions they make, as a way to document and reflect on their experience. This colleague has used the journal to reflect on their growth over the last few years. They are now in a more senior position, mentoring junior staff. They are able to review situations and tasks that they found helpful in growing when they were more junior, and assign these types of tasks to their mentees.
I asked my colleague to share tips on how to engage in consistent reflective journaling. They also said that journaling might feel forced at first. You will quickly build a backlog of entries. If you see benefits, this will motivate you to continue journaling.
Beyond the Reflection's Edge by Bryan Davis
Individuals benefit from group reflection. We can use the presence of others to facilitate our own reflection, and to help them reflect as well. Listening groups, or dyads of two or more people , are a form of constructivist listening, where individuals or groups serve as sounding boards for the individual undertaking the reflection. The purpose of listening dyads is to empower the individual speaking, allow them to make meaning of their experiences, and facilitate personal decision-making. Listeners benefit from a deeper understanding of what others experience and increased active listening skills.
Teams will benefit from listening dyads when interviewing and other in-person data-collection techniques become a part of the user research repertoire. As with individual reflection, there is not one set way to engage in a listening dyad. Ensure, however, that some ground rules are in place. This is time for the speaker to give their truth, and for listeners to empathize. Everyone should feel comfortable sharing with others. Decide on the topic or format in advance. You could set the topic in advance or have the speakers set the topic themselves.
The advantage of setting the topic in advance is that it allows people to come ready to reflect on that topic. One disadvantage of presetting the topic is that it creates a perception of power — the person setting the topic has the power. Give a set amount of time to everyone; equality is the name of the game in a listening group. All speakers should have a set amount of time to speak on the topic. All listeners should have a set amount of time to ask questions. Guarantee confidentiality.
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This is a must if you want to have successful listening groups. Confidentiality encourages group trust and solidarity. Deceit and division grow when confidentiality is broken. Once your plans are in place, schedule a time for a listening group session. You can use the following prompts to facilitate your listening group:. Allow team members to take the meaning they see fit from each session. Chapter 2. Chapter 4. Chapter 5. Chapter 6. Chapter 7.