Write your own reference: An innovative assessment strategy for quality self-reflections in engineering education

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Abstract

Quality self-reflections form the core of quality teaching (Lorson, Goodway, & Hovatter, 2007). Traditionally designed reflection activities in engineering classrooms do not sufficiently prompt thoughtful self-awareness or foster future learning (Rodríguez-Triana et al., 2017). Students only describe their learning activities and fail to connect cognition of their learning behaviour with expectedprofessional growth. Lorson et al. (2007) voiced that students’ self-reflection needs to be directed and structured to be meaningful.PURPOSEThis assessment pair is intended to direct the students’ reflections towards how they want to be perceived by the stakeholders of their work, while requiring them to consider both the present and future versions of themselves and others to achieve these goals.APPROACH At the start of a semester-long project, students are asked to imagine themselves as the clients of (successful) projects at the end of the semester and write the reference letter they wish to receive at the end of the project. At the end of the semester, students revisit this reference letter and reflect on whether this reference letter is how their clients actually now perceive them as a result of their conduct and achievements in the project. In this way, students self-identify tangible competency gaps for their ongoing professional development.RESULTS The reference letters produced by the students are largely of sufficient quality that they could be endorsed by their clients. Students are able to adopt the perspectives of their future clients, and identify the clients’ future expectations of themselves and consequently raise their self-expectations in planning for their semester-long projects.CONCLUSIONS By using a reference letter and a corresponding reflection, the assessment pair replaces conventional reflection models in engineering classrooms. Requiring students to consider perspectives other than their own, at points in time other than today, causes students to set aspirational goals that anchor in work placement values and criteria and that they take full ownership of, to anticipate their learning needs, and improves the quality of their reflections on their progress towards their goals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference 2018
Place of PublicationHamilton, New Zealand
PublisherUniversity of Waikato
Pages1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference: AAEE 2018 - Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand
Duration: 09 Dec 201813 Dec 2018
https://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)

Conference

Conference29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleThe future engineer: Accounting for diversity
CountryNew Zealand
CityHamilton
Period09/12/1813/12/18
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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