Students often enter professional training without a clear conceptualisation of the depth and scope of a field. Further, students often underestimate the importance of process skills, such as reflection. Some first year students struggle to identify a focus for their reflections, assuming that reflections are only about ‘things that went wrong’ or to understand the possible structures and language of written reflections. Other professional domains are faced with similar misconceptions by beginning students where perspectives are often drawn from popular culture and client-only experiences.
By constructing a portfolio with reflections, students can keep track of issues, responses and reformulations as they occur over a semester. Such tracking can not only serve as stimulus for further reflections, but is also a way for them to learn the ‘language’ of reflection as a means of interpreting experience. The portfolio also allows thematic issues and questions that range over the content of the unit to be addressed comprehensively.
- The assessment in this unit requires students to submit a portfolio of reflections on their experiences influencing their choice of discipline. “Launching” questions are provided for the assessment task and discussed in lectures:
- Why are you studying this discipline?
- What will be your greatest challenge in the workplace and why?
- How can you prepare for your greatest challenge?
- The 4Rs are introduced in a lecture and the class discusses the role of reflection in psychology
- After a ‘frustrating’ constructed experience in tutorials, a practice reflection is drafted by students. Peer review of this reflection is conducted in pairs.
- An example reflection is provided to students for discussion and redrafted collaboratively in a lecture. A revised example is placed on the unit wiki for further discussion and redrafting.
- Students submit a draft of their first reflection.
- Feedback is provided and, on the basis of recurring themes, a list of professional schemata for interpreting behaviour is provided.
- Students are invited to attend a video-conference (e.g. ElluminateLive! on Blackboard Collaborate) discussion before submission of their final reflective portfolios.
- Guest speakers provide their own professional reflections about their first experiences in psychology throughout the semester. Students learn the structure of how these reflections fit with their own work.
Exemplar of reflective writing
Criteria for professional reflections
Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R. (1975). Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. In C. Cooper (Ed.) Theories of Group Process. London: John Wiley. see http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/ah650e/AH650E05.htm
This pattern was initiated by Erin O’Connor (Health)