Fostering Self-Reflection at Mid-Term

Reinert Center RIT_circle_2014_solid_082214by Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

Mid-term can be a powerful time for reflection – reflection for you on how you’re experiencing your teaching, reflection for students on how they’re experiencing their learning.

For students who have found course content challenging during the first half of the semester, it can be a time when the proverbial lightbulb turns on, when connections begin to be made, when things start to “click.”  For students who have found the first half of the term fairly easy, it can be the calm-before-the-storm, the quiet before final projects rev up, before course content becomes more challenging.  For most students, mid-term is a time to get through as quickly as possible, more focused on passing exams than on deepening learning.

We can help students experience mid-term as more than just a high-stress exam period by asking them to engage in a mid-term reflection.  The importance of self-reflection is underscored in the research on motivation, self-regulation, and meta-cognition, among other important areas of study. The following questions may serve as a starting point for mid-semester reflection:

What has surprised you about your learning so far this semester?

Where have you felt most drawn in or energized in this course so far?  (This could be topics, readings, problems studied, cases examined, and so on.)

What in the course content has challenged you this semester?

Where in this course have you seen connections to other courses, other learning, other experiences you are having this semester?

What could you do to deepen your own learning for the rest of the semester?  Identify one concrete action you can take to engage more deeply in this course for the rest of the term.

Ask students to jot down their responses to these questions (or others like them), either in-class or at home.  If students are comfortable sharing their responses with you (particularly for the first three questions), you’ll gain important insight into how they are experiencing the semester.  You might even consider jotting down your own responses to the questions and sharing them with the class as a way to model self-reflectiveness.

Have other ideas for mid-term reflections?  Share them in the comments section.