Using Reflection Activities to Deepen Student Engagement
We developed this series of Reflection Activities in our learning community class "Exploring Natural History in Word and Field." Specifically, we require our students to participate in a service learning project with a non-profit organization engaged in environmental restoration. We've found that students are more likely to experience deeper engagement when we build reflection activities into the quarter-long experience. These are articulated in this two-part assignment.
- Identify and describe the functions of the environmental non-profit you have selected (group interaction).
- Work collaboratively with a small group of students towards a common goal (group interaction).
- Make connections between course material and the work of environmental organizations (critical thinking)
- Conduct primary and secondary research on an environmental organization and an issue that is important to it (oral and written communication, critical thinking).
- Present your findings as a team in an Oral Presentation (oral communication).
- Gain experience as a volunteer and realize benefits from it (critical thinking, group interaction).
- Reflect on service-learning experiences by writing an essay on your experience and your group's collaborative experience in working together (critical thinking; oral and written communication).
Note: These incorporate our college's College-Wide Abilities, which are listed in parenthesis at the end).
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Introduction/Context–provides background on the class and the assignment
SL Projectinstructions –provides instructions for the quarter-long Service Learning Project working with a non-profit organization engaged in environmental restoration
SL Reflection–provides the instructions for the two reflection activities, including specific questions for the students
Introduction/Context for Reflection Activities (Microsoft Word 37kB Feb29 12)
SL Projectinstructions (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 27kB Jan2 12)
SL Reflection (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 122kB Jan2 12)
Sample Student Reflections (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 142kB Jan2 12)
Teaching Notes and Tips
They receive points for meeting the weekly deadlines
They receive points for their pre- and post Reflection activities
They receive a grade from the instructors on their final Group Presentation
They fill out a Peer and Self Assessment to assess their own contributions to the group, as well as their peers.