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Reflection As An Assessment Measure

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.522.1 - 5.522.9



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Barbara Olds

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2261

Reflection as an Assessment Measure

Barbara M. Olds Colorado School of Mines Golden, CO 80401

I. Introduction

As I teach and advise engineering students, I am constantly amazed at their motivation, their capacity for hard work, their intelligence. But I am also often amazed at their lack of self- awareness, at their “can’t see the forest for the trees” approach to getting through each hour, each day, each semester, a college education. They refer, often jokingly, to “getting out,” instead of graduating, and they seem sometimes to see their college years as a kind of initiation, something that must be survived before they can enter the “real world.”

In thinking about this common view among engineering students, my colleagues on the Tutorial Committee of the McBride Honors Program and I began to discuss ways in which the program might be able to help engineering students become more reflective. We ultimately decided upon a reflective portfolio assessment program. Students in the McBride Program are now required to maintain a longitudinal portfolio over their three and one-half years in the program. Each semester both the student and his/her McBride professors write a brief reflection on the student’s progress towards meeting the program’s goals. Each student also submits a representative sample of his/her work from that seminar. The portfolios are then evaluated to assess both the program and the individual student. In addition, when they complete the program students write an essay reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the program as a whole and on their contributions and growth over the previous 3 ½ years. This essay is the basis for an exit interview/summative assessment.

II. What is Reflection?

The use of reflection as a learning tool is nothing new; for example, it has been used in writing classes for some time 1,2,3. Basically, it consists of asking people to write about their goals, the strategies they use for reaching their goals, and their progress towards reaching those goals or others. Kathleen Yancey describes reflection in the following way:

In method, reflection is dialectical, putting multiple perspectives into play with each other in order to produce insight. Procedurally, reflection entails a looking forward to goals we might attain, as well as a casting backward to see where we have been. When we reflect, we thus project and review, often putting the projections and the reviews in dialogue with each other, working dialectically as we seek to discover what we know, what we have learned, and what we might understand. When we reflect, we call upon the cognitive, the affective, the intuitive, putting these into play with each other: to help us understand how

Olds, B. (2000, June), Reflection As An Assessment Measure Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8865

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