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A Time for Student Reflection

The final weeks of the course present an opportunity for students to look back on the semester. They can reflect on their learning, their successes, and the challenges they faced. To do this requires dedicating class time (or for online courses, a separate discussion thread), but the students and you will profit from it. In addition to reviewing what they worked on, students may gain insight into how they worked. Based on their responses, you can learn what was most useful, as well as what could be improved for the next semester.

Addressing the whole class in an impromptu discussion may not be the best approach for a thorough review and reflection. Ideally, facilitate one or more activities that will elicit this information.

For a course review, students can work in teams to create a visualization of the key points learned, in any way they choose. Visual-literacy.org's The Periodic Table of Visual Methods is a good resource for approaches to showing information.

For a reflection activity, students may need a few quiet moments. Here are some sample questions you can ask:

  • What skills or ideas that you learned in this class were your favorites? 
     
  • What skills or ideas would you like more exposure to? 
     
  • What skills or ideas were the most difficult at the time? (Are they still?) 
     
  • Was there an activity that made learning easier, or enhanced your creativity or design process? 
     
  • What advice would you give to a future student taking this course?

If you create your own questions, they can target specific parts of the course that you want to improve. For example, students may have had problems collaborating, so you can ask questions such as: What helped you work together most effectively? What were the difficulties you encountered in group work?

If you feel that the last week is already too busy to spend time on a review/reflection activity, you can speed up the process with a pre-made list. Hand out the list of criteria and/or key concepts with directions such as:

  • Circle the areas in which you made the most improvement. 
     
  • Underline the areas in which you had the most trouble.

If you use this approach, leave space on the bottom or the back for students to write comments. (The comment section is where you get some of the most useful feedback.)

There are many other ideas for this last week of class, so here is a list of resources:

Reviewing and Reflecting on Course Content

Asking Students for Feedback: Teacher-Made Course Evaluations

Connecting Learning to Professional Goals