Low Tech Ways to Make Students Reflective Learners

thinkingStudies show that students learn more, and are more likely to become self-motivated learners, if they are made explicitly aware of their learning.  A recent post in Faculty Focus reports on a study of a set of four prompts designed to require students to analyze, reflect, relate and question.  Originally used in a Psychology course to get students to reflect on a a group activity, the questions are:


  1. Identify one important concept, research finding, theory or idea . . . that you learned while completing this activity.
  2. Why do you believe that this concept, finding, theory, or idea is important?
  3. Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.
  4. What questions has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about? [Prohibited answer: ‘nothing’]

As the blog points out, this set of questions is quite versatile — for example, you could use it at the end of class to summarize class discussion, reflect before class on a reading assignment, guide peer feedback on other students’ papers, or consider course learning at the end of the semester.  The Psychology professors who used the prompts prior to a quiz reported that those who did the prompts before taking the quiz did significantly better than those students using the prompts after the quiz.  Another group of researchers found improvements in critical thinking.

For more on this kind of metacognition, check out these resources.

About Beth Thornburg

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