Critical reflection and discussion faciltitated by a virtual learning environment across two universities.
This source preferred by Jacqui Taylor
Authors: Mair, C. and Taylor, J.
Editors: Gómez Chova, L. and Candel Torres, I.
Start date: 7 March 2011
One of the key aims of Higher Education is to develop students' ability to become 'critical reflective thinkers'. This is typically private and ignores the benefits of collaboration. Our project extended innovative reflective techniques to students collaborating at two universities. At Southampton Solent University (SSU), reflective practice is focused on learning, structured in an adaptable spreadsheet via the virtual learning environment (VLE). At Bournemouth University (BU), the VLE Discussion Board facilitates asynchronous online discussion; during which students are encouraged to reflect on each other’s postings. This paper describes a project designed to enable users to learn from others' as well as their own reflections. Prior to the study, participants completed a 52-item Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI) and a semi-structured questionnaire on their current reflective practice. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups comprising students from a single university or both universities. Via the VLE, participants watched a 20-minute video and then engaged in critical discussion of the content, prompted by four discussion points over a 2-week period. Simultaneously, they recorded reflections within an individual electronic reflection sheet at least once every other day. At the end of this period, participants were asked to share and discuss their individual reflections for a further week. Finally, the MAI and a post study questionnaire on reflective practice were administered. The results described in this paper focus on the effects of the intervention on metacognition as indicated by the MAI and on changes in reflective practice as indicated by the pre and post questionnaires. Our findings showed that metacognitive awareness was statistically significantly enhanced. We suggest recommendations regarding the implementation of future systems to enable students to share reflections online.