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The Reflection Technique: Increasing Classroom Involvement & Learning

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

NEE Potpourri

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1285.1 - 9.1285.7

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Paper Authors

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Mark Dean

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


The Reflection Technique: Increasing Classroom Involvement & Learning

Mark L. Dean

Purdue University School of Technology


Lecture-based teaching is the traditional didactic format. Some subject materials, for example mathematics, may lend themselves particularly well to such a format. However, other subject matter may be best mastered in an environment of interactive discovery, where issues can be discussed, debated, thought about, and struggled with in an open and relatively free flowing format. This paper presents such an interactive technique, termed the method of “reflection” by its founder, Dr. Stan Murrell, at the University of Louisville. The technique is particularly effective in smaller classes with fewer than 10-12 students. Simple to understand and utilize, the reflection technique provides a powerful tool for encouraging interaction and thoughtful discussion. In a nutshell, students are assigned responsibility for leading a class discussion based on an assigned reading. Rather than provide a summary of the material, the student is to provide his or her Reflections to that material. That is, what did they find interesting? What seemed to make sense? What didn’t they agree with? What thoughts did the reading trigger? In general, what were their cognitive and affective reactions as they worked their way through the material? The student assigned responsibility for the Reflection leads the discussion by providing his or her reflections, but is also responsible for soliciting the input of others and their reflections. In addition to discussing the technique itself, this paper presents methods learned over time aimed at increasing the likelihood that students adequately prepare for class by thoughtfully reading the assigned material, grading reflections, and stimulating active and interactive discussion.


Purdue New Albany’s Organizational Leadership and Supervision (OLS) program is a relatively new, but growing, program. Consequently, some of our classes remain relatively small. We are also often required to teach at least three preps a semester, sometimes 6 different preps over the course of a year. Achieving expertise in one area is challenging. Achieving expertise in six is overwhelming. Such was the case my first semester. I was assigned to teach three classes. Two were on topics on which I had some expertise. The third, on the topic of change, had only 5 students in it, and I was no expert on the topic. Because of the size of the class, and because I lacked expertise in the topic, the idea of lecturing on the material did not appeal to me. In envisioning what the classroom experience might be like, perhaps even catastrophizing a little bit, I saw myself reading off of viewgraphs to a relatively disinterested – yea, even bored - group of students. It was not a pretty sight.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Dean, M. (2004, June), The Reflection Technique: Increasing Classroom Involvement & Learning Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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