The middle of December; for students in Innovation Engineering this time is filled with trying to finish up all the assignments they still have left. But more importantly is the semester reflection that all students will be completing. The last assignment for all four classes ends in a simple 500-word reflection where students are just asked to reflect on what they learned across the whole semester.
For students this is a moment where during the crazy times that is exam week they can just stop and think about what they’ve learned during the semester and realize what they’ve learned instead of just cramming for finals. Taking this time to reflect can also improve your ability to learn and enhance the learning that occurred. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development lists four main benefits from reflective learning.
- Helps you accept responsibility for your own personal growth.
- See a clear link between the effort you put into your development activity and the benefits you get out of it.
- Help see more value in each learning experience, by knowing why you’re doing it and what’s in it for you.
- Teach you to learn how to ‘learn’ and add new skills over time.
As a supervisor for all of the classes the end of semester reflections is a lifesaver. I have thousands of words from the students themselves saying what they liked, disliked, found confusing, or whatever had the largest impact on them during the semester. It’s the easiest way to find out what we’re doing well or poorly and enables us to focus our time on the important things when we go to make changes. Without them we’d never be able to keep track of how things are going in classrooms taught by different people in universities across North America.
To end, a simple challenge to you. Step into the students’ shoes and sit down and write 500 words reflecting on the past 4, 6, or 12 months answering the simple question,
What did you learn?