Assignments: Reflective Learning Papers
Throughout this course you will be challenged to expand your skills and knowledge in educational psychology as well as develop your teaching beliefs and values. The reflective learning papers allow you to reflect on content in the course.
- You will write three (3) reflective learning papers.
- In each paper you will include three (3) sections, one for each unit/chapter that you selected from the units available for that paper. For each unit/chapter you will select one topic from the unit/chapter to summarize and reflect on. You may choose anything, but you should select a topic that is covered in some detail in the text so that there is something substantial to discuss.
- For example, Assignment 2 covers Units/Chapters 5-9. You will choose three of these four units/chapters to include in the reflective paper. If you choose Units/Chapters 5, 7, and 9 then your paper would have a section for each of these, and each section would be about just one topic.
In each section of the paper you will
- summarize the chosen topic.
- reflect on what’s interesting to you about that topic.
- discuss how you would incorporate the topic into your teaching.
- discusss your personal strengths and weaknesses with respect to the topic.
- explain how this topic has affected (or not affected) your beliefs about teaching.
As such, we suggest that you write each section of your paper using a five-paragraph structure.
Length: Each paper should be no more than five (5) pages in length; each section should therefore be about one and a half pages long and not more than two pages.
Format: Double-spaced, 12-point font size (Times New Roman or similar).
Headings: Please use section headings to indicate which unit you are writing about (e.g., Unit 1: [description of the topic chosen]).
Citations and References: When citing the authors of theories or studies, do so by name, and indicate the page number [format: (Author’s last name, p. 12) or (Author’s last name, pp. 12-15)]. Providing the page number is particularly important if you use direct quotations from the textbook (but try to avoid this) or refer to something specific in the text (e.g., a table or graph).
A list of references is not required for these papers.
For each section of the paper, which corresponds with a unit in the course (e.g. Unit 1/Chapter 1 of the textbook), you will do the following.
- Identify a theory, research finding, or practice that you wish to reflect on.
- Briefly summarize that topic in your own words. Avoid direct quotations of the text.
- Use at least one original example (i.e., not from the textbook) to clarify technical terms and demonstrate your understanding.
- Cite theorists or study authors by name and with a page reference when introducing theoretical terms or research findings.
- Describe what was interesting to you, and explain why.
- Include one or more of the following:
- Discuss how something you read was new to you and perhaps surprised you.
- Describe and discuss any connections you see between your experiences and what you are learning.
- Pose interesting questions you have about what you are learning.
- Clearly describe how will you use what you have learned as a teacher in the classroom; the proposal should be realistic and practical.
Personal Strengths and Weaknesses
- Identify any strengths and weaknesses you might have in relation to the topic, and discuss how you might address the weaknesses.
Beliefs about Teaching
- Describe how your learning has affected your beliefs about teaching and learning (or not).
Some Advice about Writing Reflective Learning Papers
Your first paragraph should take you the longest to write and will probably be the longest one. It should clearly state and explain your choice of theory, research, or practice using specific and concrete language. For complex theories or practices, select just one or two aspects that you will focus on. For example, you might select just one stage of a stage theory. You must demonstrate that you understand the topic in this paragraph through your descriptions and explanations and by including an original example (not an example from the text). If a particular researcher’s ideas are being discussed please cite him or her.
Ensure that every section thereafter makes a clear and explicit link back to the topic you chose; it is not sufficient for your “reflections” to be about the same general area or theme. For example, your classroom implementation must make an explicit attempt to use the theory, research finding, or practice to improve your teaching. Explain why the specific actions you will take make sense with respect to that topic (unless the connection is very obvious).
Try to make your thinking clear by using logical connectives: therefore, however, for instance, in contrast, similarly, also, such as, etc. Avoid using colloquialisms (i.e., everyday speech, especially idioms); use these sparingly, to get the reader’s attention, or not at all.
Your papers will be graded using a Marking Rubric. Please download the rubric, and ensure that your paper is well written and includes all of the required components