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The Effectiveness of Students’ Daily Reflections on Learning in an Engineering Context

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1451.1 - 22.1451.10



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Paper Authors


Muhsin Menekse Arizona State University

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Muhsin Menekse is pursuing a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in the Science Education program at Arizona State University concurrently with a M.A. degree in Measurement, Statistics and Methodological Studies. He had research experiences in the areas of conceptual change of naïve ideas about science, argumentation in computer supported learning environments, and video game design to support students’ understanding of Newtonian mechanics. Muhsin is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Michelene Chi to develop and implement a classroom-based methodology with instructional materials, activities, and assessments by using a cognitive framework of differentiated overt learning activities for designing effective classroom instruction in materials science and engineering.

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Glenda Stump Arizona State University

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Glenda Stump is a Post-doctoral Scholar in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Dr. Stump earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and a certificate in Educational Technology from Arizona State University in May of 2010.

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Stephen J. Krause Arizona State University

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Stephen J. Krause is Professor in the School of Materials in the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches in the areas of bridging engineering and education, capstone design, and introductory materials engineering. His research interests are evaluating conceptual knowledge, misconceptions and their repair, and conceptual change. He has co-developed a Materials Concept Inventory for assessing conceptual knowledge of students in introductory materials engineering classes. He is currently conducting research with NSF sponsored projects in the areas of: Modules to Promote Conceptual Change in an Introductory Materials Course, Tracking Student Learning Trajectories of Atomic Structure and Macroscopic Property Relationships, and Assessing the Effect of Learning Modes on Conceptual Change.

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Michelene T.H. Chi Arizona State University

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Micki Chi is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University.
She is a member of the National Academy of Education. She is also a fellow in Cognitive Science, American Psychological Association, and American Psychological Society. Her research focuses on how teachers can enhance students' learning by making them more constructive and interactive. She is also interested in developing interventions that can help students understand the interlevel causal relations between micro-level elements and macro-level patterns of many science processes.

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The Effectiveness of Students’ Daily Reflections on Learning in Engineering ContextReflection is a significant cognitive process to enhance students’ learning outcomes and/orperformance. Several studies have shown the value of learners reflecting on what they havedone, processed or engaged in so far. However, only a few of these studies investigated theimportance of reflecting on confusing points, and none of the studies were conducted in anengineering context.This study investigated the effects of engineering students’ daily reflections on their learning ofvarious introductory materials engineering science concepts. The materials science engineeringstudents were asked to reflect on the “muddiest points” at the end of each class for the entiresemester of spring 2010. The students individually answered the question of “what wasconfusing or needed more detail” after each class. We collected students’ daily reflections, preand post concept tests about the crystal structures and polymer structures, unit exams, andMaterials Science Concept Inventory (MCI) as data resources.Students’ daily reflections on “muddiest points” were coded based on the deepness of theirexplanations. Here, the deepness of explanations indicated the degree to which the reflectionswere relatively active or constructive . According to Chi’s framework, reflections can beclassified as active or constructive processes based on the details of the reflection and thecognitive processes that can be identified from it. For example, after the first lecture of a crystalstructures class, one student wrote “unit cells” as the muddiest point, whereas another studentfrom the same class wrote “how type of the crystal structure affects strength of a material” as themuddiest point. The first reflection is a brief and shallow statement compared to the secondreflection. Also, the first reflection is basically a restatement of one of the very broad conceptsthat was already presented in the lecture, which represents active learning, whereas the secondreflection is a unique statement that links a concept from the lecture (i.e. crystal structure) toanother concept that was not even presented in that lecture (i.e. strength of material), whichindicates more constructive learning. Accordingly, our coding schema for the reflections followsan ordinal scale of 0-3 to indicate the degree of deepness or quality of reflections.The statistical analysis showed a significant correlation between the quality of students’ dailyreflections and learning gains based on crystal structures pre and post concept tests. In otherwords, the students whose reflections on muddiest points involved more detailed explanations,also, performed better on concept tests than the students whose reflections were relativelyshallow. Also, there was a significant correlation between students’ average muddiest pointscores and their percentage correct of the polymer structures-related questions on the unit test.The students who were able to articulate their questions about course material in more detailwere also ones who scored higher on the unit exam in general. However, there was no significantcorrelation between students’ average muddiest point scores and their pre-post concept testdifference scores for polymer structures. Next steps for this study are to analyze students’responses on the MCI in order to explore how students’ understanding is changed based on adelayed concept test for the point confusing during the class.

Menekse, M., & Stump, G., & Krause, S. J., & Chi, M. T. (2011, June), The Effectiveness of Students’ Daily Reflections on Learning in an Engineering Context Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--19002

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