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Utilizing Reflective Practice to Develop Agency in Goal Setting and Achievement in Workplace Learning Environments

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Fostering Business and Professional Skills in the Engineering Classroom

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Andrea Goncher Charles Sturt University

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Andrea Goncher is a lecturer in Civil System Engineering at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia. Her research interests include text analytics, international higher education, and engineering design education.

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Misalignment with university and industry can present challenges to the professional formation of engineers within the profession (Stevens, Johri, O’Connor, 2014). Integrating workplace learning experiences throughout university study, and working with industries can help students meet the requirements of accreditation bodies, and develop their professional identity (Trede, 2012). Reflective practice contributes to preparing graduates to be employable as it relates to life-long learning.

Reflective activity allows students to actively engage in identifying and developing the goals that they would like to achieve during their first placements. This paper presents a case study of engineering students on their first industry placements. Students participated in a parallel reflective planning and review-focused course that helped students to structure setting goals and objectives, as well as reflect on workplace practices. The purpose of this study was to investigate, What is the impact of reflective practice on student goal achievement in workplace learning experiences?

We conducted qualitative interviews with four students currently on industry placements in public and private civil engineering organizations. We used document analysis to anlyaze students’ written reflections and documentation of their goals and progress toward their goals. This format provides several forms of question delivery, and prompts for students to reflect on their goal setting and achievement approach.

Reflecting on previous experiences helped to inform their goal setting approach and promoted the students’ capacity to be thoughtful in what and how they want to achieve their goals. Goal identification, as a workplace learning activity, is important to students’ professional development. The nature of refection, where self-paced learning activity and reflective thinking is important for preparing students for the workplace. The learning activities, e.g. written reflections and prompts, were self-paced resources for students to prepare for and engage in their placements.

Actively engaging in reflective practice is not only important for the workplace learning experiences, but also for students’ future practices (Trede & Smith, 2012; Reidesma, Goldsmith, Mort, 2010). Engaging with the reflective activities is beneficial for the students to have agency in setting their own goals. Workplace learning is not only about apply skills in work contexts, but reflecting on the experiences to advance learning.

Goncher, A. (2018, June), Utilizing Reflective Practice to Develop Agency in Goal Setting and Achievement in Workplace Learning Environments Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31219

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