The reading reflection assignment is meant to encourage students to reflect metacognitively on what they have read. It allows students to begin to internalize the information by summaring it in their own words. It also specifically begins to build bridges to the material based on what they already know in a constructivist apporach. Finally, the reading reflection assignment provides feedback to the instructor for just-in-time discussion topics that are confusing to students.
Context for Use
Assign for a chapter or reading assignment that is to be discussed in class. Have the assignment due before discussion so students come having already read the material. Assignments submitted to Moodle or other classroom management systems can be graded quickly.
Description and Teaching Materials
The attached file is the instructions for the assignment. I have it included in the course syllabus. As we begin a new chapter or new reading assignment, I assign a reading reflection for it to be completed before the first day we discuss the topic in class. I use the reflections to identify which topics are the most confusing and then use those as discussion topics during class time. It is important to give early feedback on the first reading reflections so that students undertand the process and expectations.
Reading Reflection (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 26kB Aug6 11)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Go through some examples of "good" reading reflections and some which are incomplete for the whole class. Make grading manageable by doing it online. I streamline the process by skimming the submissions looking specifically for what topics come up frequently as confusing to the students. These then inform the next few class discussion topics. Something to consider experimenting with: this year I have eliminated the summary option and require the reflection on "what's interesting & why?" and "what's confusing & why?"
To keep grading these manageable, they get 10 points (full credit) for doing a complete job (~250 words), turning it in on time, and demonstrating some actual reflection. Five points are awarded if the assignment is late, short, incomplete, or lacks reflection. Zero points are awarded if it is not turned in or is more than two class periods late.
References and Resources
Wirth, K. and F. Aziz. 2009. Reading Reflections: A Simple Activity for Promoting
Metacognitive Development and Learning? Poster Presentation at the Innovations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Liberal Arts Colleges, Wabash College, March 6-8, 2009.