Thursday, December 5, 2013

SLLO In Action: Reflecting on Student Learning

Do you want to know how students feel about their involvement experience?  Do you wonder if students’ experiences are similar in different organizations?  We wondered the same things about involved students at Texas A&M.  But how do you go about answering these questions on a campus of 50,000 students with almost 900 student organizations?

We decided to take an approach combining reflection and one minute papers.  We asked advisors to participate with their student groups to have them complete a series of one minute papers throughout the academic year.  Students would reflect through these one minute papers each month from September through April.  After advisors administered the one minute paper, a group of staff members would read each reflection and score it based on an AAC&U rubric for integrative learning or lifelong learning.

So, how did it work?

We had almost 1,400 students involved in the project as it started, and about 1,100 during the spring semester from about 70 different student organizations throughout the Division of Student Affairs.  We were able to capture information from students in a variety of different roles and groups to learn about our students.  However, it was a lot of work to get forms back from all advisors each month and we did drop a few groups early on because they had gotten so far behind in the monthly reflections.

The reflection prompts we gave students each month were:

  •          What brought you to this particular student organization and why is it a good fit for you? (September)
  •          Beyond building friendships and networking, what do you personally hope to learn through this student involvement experience? (October)
  •          What connections, if any, can you make between this student involvement experience and your classroom experience?  What connections, if any, can you make between this student involvement experience and your career path? (November)
  •          Based on this student involvement experience, please give an example of a time when you expressed your views, solutions, or opinions on an issue.  If you have not expressed your views, solutions, or opinions on an issue, please share your thoughts on why not. (December/January)
  •          How does this student involvement impact your life experience? (February)
  •          How have you applied skills or abilities gained from previous experiences to solve problems or explore issues in this student involvement? (March)
  •          How do you see yourself now compared to who you were at the beginning of this student involvement experience? (April)

Would we do anything differently?

While this project was a great initiative looking at a large number of involved students from across the division, we did learned a LOT.  We would spread out the reflections to a couple times a year, but ask that students spend more than “a minute” on them to get at some deeper concepts.  The monthly pace was challenging for advisors in administering the one minute papers and students reflecting on the question asked.  We would also plan more staff time for reading and scoring the reflections and only ask one question per time.

The concept from this project could easily be applied to individual groups or even during one-one-one meetings with students.  There are easy ways to build in reflection with your students and help them develop the skill to look back at what has happened in order to look ahead with better clarity and direction. 

- Kelly Cox

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