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Designing and Enacting Weekly Micro-reflections as a Means of Professional Development of Early Career Educators: Voices from the Field

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NEE 2 - Strategies to Improve Teaching Effectiveness

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

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Paper Authors

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Taryn Shalini Bipat University of Washington


Jennifer A. Turns University of Washington

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Jennifer Turns is a Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. She is interested in all aspects of engineering education, including how to support engineering students in reflecting on experience, how to help engineering educators make effective teaching decisions, and the application of ideas from complexity science to the challenges of engineering education.

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Mitchell Fajardo

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Yuliana Flores University of Washington

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Background: Reflection activities, instructional activities that support student engagement in reflective thinking, are a powerful tool in the toolbox of educators wanting to support student learning. Because of reasons such as student attitudes toward reflection and the pace of instruction in engineering education contexts, designing reflection activities can be hard work. At the same time, because reflection activities in teaching can go “under the radar” (particularly micro-reflection activities that take only 3-5 minutes), it is possible for educators to have a great deal of creativity in the design of reflection activities. Because of the level of creativity and iteration possible, designing reflection activities has potential to be an activity that does more than simply result in reflection activities.

Purpose: In this project, we are exploring whether designing reflection activities functions as a form of professional development? In particular, we are interested in what early career educators learn about teaching and learning through efforts to design and enact reflection activities?

Approach: Three educators, of different levels of experience, had the chance to each implement 10-micro-reflection activities in a 150-student introductory human-centered design (UCD) course. This class has a pedagogy of project-based learning and students are encouraged to continuously interact with their environment and their peers. The educators gathered information in their own ways, and designed their activities with any purpose of their choosing. The educators then shared their experiences on a weekly basis with each other, debriefing on observations, thoughts on the observations and how we can connect these findings to moving forward. The iterative, constant comparison of the activities on a weekly basis, simultaneously with the experience of doing the activities and the reactions of the students in the activities led to themes that are the core of this paper.

Findings: Our findings fall into several categories: (1) trends in the activities being designed and (2) trends in the professional learning across the different design/enactment instances. For example, in terms of the activities being designed, we have been seeing a focus on helping students see what other students are thinking, creating ways for students to interact with each other, creating opportunities for future reflection (by creating a partial record of the experience), and creating opportunities for students to engage physically as well as mentally (through activities that involve moving around the room). In terms of professional learning, it seems the activity has been helping the early career educator think about issues of knowing and assessment (thinking triggered by the challenge of assessing reflection activities themselves) and also about space-time issues related to student learning (thinking triggered by realizing that some classroom reflection activities might give students thoughts that they explore beyond the classroom situation).

Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that designing micro-reflection activities helps early career educators become aware of the myriad issues that can go into their design, as well as leading to more general insights about students, content, etc. In the final paper, we will provide a more comprehensive account of the work. Our final paper will feature first person accounts from the early career educators as well as the synthetic findings.

Bipat, T. S., & Turns, J. A., & Fajardo, M., & Flores, Y. (2019, June), Designing and Enacting Weekly Micro-reflections as a Means of Professional Development of Early Career Educators: Voices from the Field Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32617

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