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Findings, methods

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Methods

The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis of whether reflection in and of it self can be an effective exercise that enhance learning. Students in two sections of the same class with the same instructors will be involved. Students in one section, determined by flipping a coin, will be asked to reflect upon what they have experienced during the week and identify which concepts they need more lecture time.Since there are only three hours of lectures per week, students who wish more time could have spent on a particular concept need also identify which concept they would be responsible for and learn on their own. They then report the outcome of this reflective, mental activity to their instructor via a short email message on Sunday evening.

To positively reinforce this activity, instructors need to address these reflections. Therefore, on Monday (or the first meeting time of the week), the instructors will begin the lecture with a simple practice question to help students better learn the concept most of them identified as challenging.

There will be no extra credits attached to this activity because it will be unfair to offer a point-earning activity to students in one section but not the other. Therefore, currently we just verbally encourage/remind students to reflect on Friday and hope that they will give us the products of their reflections. However, if this approach does not give us satisfying quantity of results, then we will slightly modify our approach. We may include “class participation” as a category of evaluation in our grading scales. For the selected section, the reflection exercise counts toward “class participation”.For both sections, any engaging learning behaviors count toward the participation credits.

We are not comparing the exam averages or grade distributions of these two sections to assess the effectiveness of this exercise. Instead we have developed a course evaluation form assessing how confident they feel about a set of key concepts of the course. If a student feels very confident in explaining a particular concept to another student who has not taken the course, then we can infer that this student understands this particular concept more than another student who does not feel confident in explaining the concept to others. We predict that students who are asked to reflect will have a higher overall confidence level about the course. 

I have received the IRB approval of this project. 

    

Findings

I have designed a course evaluation form as well as the informed consent form for this exercise.  My colleague will ask his students to complete both next week.

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