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Enhancing confidence level in learning via weekly reflection 

M. –K. Liao. Furman University, Greenville, SC

G. P. Lewis. Furman University, Greenville, SC 

Background.  Use of journals can enhance learning.  While there are many ways to implement the learning journal method, they all share one thing in common: reflection.  Reflecting upon what was experienced often deepens and strengthens understanding.  We hypothesized that because reflection is the key ingredient of the journal method, reflection alone could be effective.  Methods.  We recruited instructors at Furman University who were scheduled to teach two concurrent sections of the same biology class in 2008-09.  Students in six sections of three classes were involved.  In the fall, one section of Genetics was chosen randomly to be the reflection section, in which students were asked weekly to reflect upon what they had experienced in class and to identify challenging concepts individually.  Students in this section also were encouraged verbally every Friday to e-mail the instructor their reflections by Sunday.  The other section of Genetics did not involve reflection and served as a control group.  In the spring, students in the reflection section were asked to reflect during the weekly laboratory periods.  Also, students in two sections of Biology and the Environment were asked to reflect during lecture periods: one section reflected individually and the other sections reflected in groups of three to four.  To assess confidence in learning, we also designed a course evaluation form that asks students to report how confident they feel about various concepts.  Information about students’ self-evaluation and learning attitude also was solicited.  Results.  According to Mann-Whitney tests comparing the two fall Genetics sections, there were no significant differences in the confidence levels between the groups.  Student attitudes and self-evaluations were similar in the two sections.   Conclusion.  Although not all spring semester data have been analyzed, based on initial feedbacks from students, our preliminary conclusion is that reflection does help students identify challenging concepts and alerts them to pay closer attention to those concepts while studying.  Additionally, group reflection appears to be more beneficial than individual reflection.

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Viewing 4 of 4 comments: view all
Min Ken--this is a nice abstract. At the end, can you be a little more explicit about the significant difference in the expected vs. actual grades? What does it mean that they were significantly different--were their actual grades higher or lower, or was the spread just different? Rather than saying that the data from spring is still to be analyzed, I think it would be stronger to end with a tentative conclusion, like: "although not all the data has been analyzed, our preliminary conclusion is ....."
Posted 16:12, 14 Feb 2009
Hi Min Ken. Apart from a couple of minor comments, I think that this is a good description of your project. I am confused about the sentence beginning "Instead of using exam grades for assessment....." because later on you report a comparison with expected and actual grades. How were the expected grades determined? You should state how these results were significantly different and I agree with Jenny that you have undersold the conclusion in the last sentences and could strengthen it because you have the data.
Posted 09:00, 15 Feb 2009
Hi Min Ken,

I am trying to figure out your results from the fall. You say there is a "significant difference" -- but which way? Did the reflection group earn a grade higher or lower than they expected (was the expected grade assigned by the student or by GPA/SAT scores?)? How were they significantly different from the control?

That is my only concern, however. Otherwise this abstract reads well and I look forward to seeing how personal vs. group reflection compares!

If you are planning on submitting to ASM-CUES, you might want to check out their poster abstract format requirements at: http://www.asmcue.org/page05b.shtml. They limit the characters to 1850, including spaces, which means you will need to prune a little (you are currently at 2303 characters).
Posted 11:38, 15 Feb 2009
Hi Min-Ken,
Looks very nice. I had some comments similar to those already voiced, so will skip repeating them. If you are submitting this abstract I would delete the final 2 sentences and agree with Jenny that you need to have a sgtronger conclusion. You should adddress whether your data supports your hypothesis or refutes it.
Alix
Posted 15:55, 16 Feb 2009
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