This post includes a resource I put together for a teaching session with my Year 2 BA and FdA students this week. For their research projects they are using blogs rather than paper based files to document their research. There are two main purposes of the module, firstly they are researching so that they can put together a proposal and design their own brief for their next project, secondly, they need to show evidence and analyse the research methods they have used.
Last week we focused on the mechanics of setting up a blog, the different research methods they might use and using a template to analyse them. Last week I encouraged them to reflect on this session as a first post on their blogs and found myself explaining their posts as falling into two main categories. Their posts might ‘propel’ forward and evidence what they have found or done and/or they might be reflective posts that consider and ‘discuss’ where they are at.
I could tell that the students were comfortable with seeking and acquiring information (and we revisited Harvard referencing so they could credit and reference their findings correctly) but less comfortable with the idea of reflective. pause for thought posts. This week I addressed this by looking at the affordances of blogging, with them, as well as some practical help on reflection and writing reflective posts. This was followed by a ‘Skills Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats’ activity which got them to consider reflection in more depth. The resource I put together was developed form notes I had taken from Jenny Moon’s (2005) paper as well as an article/podcast by Jill Walker Rettberg (2009);
Blogging as a Tool for Reflection and Learning
* Frequent writing can help you become more confident about your research
* I can give you more documented formative feedback
* It is more obvious when you are on the right or wrong track
* Others in your ‘network’ can contribute to your research and forming of ideas
* You can research as part of a much larger community
* You will develop a clearer ‘voice’ of your own, which will give you confidence that can be carried through into dissertation writing.
* Feedback is fast
* Blogging combines aspects of ‘thinking-writing’ with aspects of ‘presentation-writing’
What is reflection?
We reflect on the things that we have no immediate answer to.
We construct knowledge through making connections and relating things we know to the new things we encounter.
Rethinking what we know – thinking about what we know in a new or revisited context enables deeper learning to take place which is not the same as taking on new information without forming links.
Reflection can demonstrate learning.
Embed reflection in assessed tasks leads to better reflection and deeper learning.
Reflection gives the right conditions for learning
- Slows down the activity
- Ownership and ‘student voice’ in learning process
- Metacognition – an awareness of ones own learning
- Reflect on challenging material
Notes from Jenny moon (2005)
‘“thinking-writing” and “presentation writing”
Thinking writing is the kind of writing we do when we’re thinking through problems or topics, when we’re writing for ourselves and not for an audience…writing can actually help us think. Presentation writing is the kind of writing you do in order to communicate a message. When you use presentation writing you always have a reader in mind.
In a personal blog, each post is usually written quite quickly, and you publish each post immediately. Rather than drafting and revising until each piece of writing is perfect, bloggers tend to publish more frequently and with less perfectionism. You blog your immediate impressions and your first responses to ideas you have read about, or you blog about your experiences or about discussions that are going on in other blogs.’ (Walker Rettberg 2009)
There was more to the resource in terms of pointers for the tone and style of writing but I think the explanation of what they were being asked to do and why was helpful. I have been able to examine my own learning through teaching and the learning of others, the different context or perspective shift has given me a more refined idea of what reflection is and hopefully my students.
Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4.doc
Walker Rettberg, J. 2009, Virtual book e-pedagogy for teachers in higher education, weblog, accessed 05 October 2012, <http://www.virclass.net/eped/index.php?action=static&id=29>