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Stimulating And Developing Reflective Thinking In Undergraduate Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Student Engagement and Motivation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1099.1 - 13.1099.9



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Howard Illinois Institute of Technology

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Elizabeth Howard is a second-year Ph.D. candidate in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006. She is working with the IPRO program as a research associate.

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Daniel Ferguson Illinois Institute of Technology

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Daniel M. Ferguson, MBA, MSIE, is a Senior Lecturer in the IIT Stuart School of Business, and Associate Director for Research and Operations of the Interprofessional (IPRO) program. He was brought in specifically to focus on IPRO courses, and has led over 50 IPRO project teams in the past four years. He has an undergraduate degree in liberal arts and mechnical engineering, and graduate degrees in Business and Industrial Engineering. For over 20 years he led consulting businesses specializing in financial and information process design and improvement, professional training/education for industry, market research and professional publications. He has been instrumental in implementing many of the assessment processes and interventions now used by the IPRO program. He also supervises the student employees providing operational and systems support for the IPRO program.

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Margaret Huyck Illinois Institute of Technology

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Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D., is Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, within the Institute of Psychology. Her graduate work at the University of Chicago focused on life span human development and the sociology of education. Her academic specialities are adult development and program evaluation. She has major responsibility for the evaluation of the IPRO Program at IIT.

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

Stimulating and Developing Reflective Thinking In Undergraduate Students Special Session, ASEE ERM, June 2008

Abstract – One of the most important goals of higher education is to teach students how to develop original solutions to complex problems, and to remain open to revising their decisions based upon future good evidence. The ability to do this has been referred to by researchers such as King and Kitchener1 as Reflective Judgment or Reflective Thinking. At Illinois Institute of Technology, a midsize, private Midwestern university, we are attempting to give the students on our undergraduate, multidisciplinary project teams a stronger base in good decision-making skills through the development of Reflective Thinking. During the Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 semesters, a subset of these students (N = 96 and 102, respectively) completed 3 written assignments per semester that each contained one or two Reflective Thinking questions. Responses to these questions were coded into 3 levels of Reflective Thinking based on the Reflective Judgment Model (RJM) developed by King and Kitchener.1 We also introduced several interventions during the Spring 2007 semester that were intended to promote Reflective Thinking in our students, and comparisons between Reflective Thinking scores from the Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 semesters suggest that these interventions may have made a difference, although the difference was statistically significant only for the third Reflection, for which there was an average Reflective Thinking level of 1.26 for the Fall of 2006, compared to an average Reflective Thinking level of 1.73 for Spring 2007 (p < .01). Possible factors contributing to the observed differences, as well as other implications of the results and directions for future changes, are discussed.


In higher education, one common, all-encompassing goal is to teach students the skills they will need to make good decisions in the real world. However, it is often unclear to educators whether they are meeting this goal for their students or not.

In line with this goal, King and Kitchener1 have defined and studied the concept of Reflective Judgment, which we refer to here by using the equivalent term “Reflective Thinking.” Reflective Thinking is defined as the ability to make good decisions about ill-structured problems, or problems that do not have simple, clear right answers. This is clearly a crucial skill, as many of the problems that students will encounter in the real world will indeed be ill-structured.

King and Kitchener 1 developed the Reflective Judgment Model (RJM), a seven-stage framework describing the development of Reflective Thinking. These seven stages were also grouped into three broader categories: pre-reflective thinking, quasi-reflective thinking, and reflective thinking. Within this framework, pre-reflective thinking generally reflects a belief that all problems are well-structured, and that the “correct” answer to every problem can be obtained from experts or authority figures. Quasi-reflective thinking reflects some advancement away from this belief and the beginning of the ability to recognize that some problems are ill- structured and that collecting and evaluating evidence is a part of the knowing process. Still, when confronted with an ill-structured problem, quasi-reflective thinkers tend to either claim that

Howard, E., & Ferguson, D., & Huyck, M. (2008, June), Stimulating And Developing Reflective Thinking In Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3845

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