Enhancing students’ reflections in performance planning and review subjects

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Structured abstract: Performance Planning and Review (PPR) subjects are a series of one-year subjects that cadet engineers take at CSU Engineering to engage in the management of their learning and professional performance both at university and in the engineering industry. They are assisted in this process by an academic mentor and their workplace supervisor whilst on placement. Reflection on student learning plays an important role in PPR subjects, which require a high degree of personal evaluation and analysis. For instance, students complete weekly structured reflections as part of an e-portfolio in connection with the subject learning outcomes.
Purpose: Reflective practice has been shown to be a strong learning methodology in developing capacity for self-assessment and to promote lifelong learning. However, there are some obstacles in applying it in a course with project based learning (PBL) and work place learning (WPL) subjects over an extended period of time. Therefore, changes are required to the reflections in order to be more efficient as a means of assisting student development and learning.
Approach: Student’s feedback during online meetings, face-to-face informal interviews and subject debriefings highlighted the pros and cons of the current approach. In addition, students were encouraged to participate in subject discussion forums to give feedback and suggestions for improvement of the reflection process. This feedback resulted in increased structure to the reflections in PBL subjects to include a weekly theme for students to reflect upon. In the WPL subject, a guideline demonstrating best practice techniques for reflections was introduced to the students and the number of reflection pages was reduced. WPL students were also given complete flexibility in the choice of the theme of their reflection for each week.
Results: As a result of the changes outlined above students across all PPR subjects demonstrated greater engagement with the reflections in their e-portfolios. Students in the PBL subject consistently completed each of the weekly reflections as they were progressively released. This helped establish a routine of reflective practice as a part of lifelong learning. In the WPL subject, around 85% of the reflections were on the pre-defined structured questions and the rest on the flexible questions. The availability of all structured questions at the start of the semester provided students with the opportunity to align the weekly themes to their workplace activities.
Conclusions: This study has emphasised both the frequency and quality of students’ reflections as a means of developing reflective practice into a habit of life-long learning. To engage a greater number of students, reflections should be offered covering a range of themes, aligned with the diverse range of situations which students may encounter during their PBL or WPL activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication29th Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference 2018
Place of PublicationHamilton, New Zealand
PublisherAustralasian Association for Engineering Education
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Event29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference: AAEE 2018 - Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand
Duration: 09 Dec 201813 Dec 2018
https://web.archive.org/web/20180925195958/http://www.aaee2018.com/mihi-welcome/ (Conference website)
https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/18aaee/proceedings/AAEE18_Proceedings_5Dec.pdf (conference proceedings)
https://az659834.vo.msecnd.net/eventsairaueprod/production-forumpoint2-public/2248b52079e443c7baa38aabdd5a70dc (conference program)
https://www.readkong.com/tmp/conference-handbook-8811817.pdf (Conference handbook)


Conference29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleThe future engineer: Accounting for diversity
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
OtherAAEE is the premier engineering education conference for the southern hemisphere and involves a gathering of 250-300 tertiary engineering educators and stakeholders to discuss recent research, issues and trends in educating the current generation of engineers.  Primarily held in Australia, the last time this conference was in New Zealand was in 2014.  This year AAEE is co-hosted by the University of Waikato and the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec).
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