Feed on

The following entry from the 2013-2014 Teaching Issues Writing Consortium: Teaching Tips was contributed by Emma Bourassa, Experiential Learning and Field Test Instructor
Vancouver Community College


Here are a few ideas for encouraging critical thinking and self-reflection on learning that can be used during the semester as feedback on learning for the instructor.

At the beginning of the semester,

  1. Do a silent discussion.
  • Prepare single pieces of paper with a provocative statement or question about the content/concepts/focus of the course- one per student plus 5 extra.
  • Students take one paper, and write a response- agree, disagree, add to the idea or ask a question
  • Students return their paper to the pile, pick up a different one, read and respond. Allow for 4-5 rounds.

Then ask: “Why did I ask you to do that?” The purpose could be to have students start considering the course, modeling giving each student time to process and consider answers (especially if there is group discussions or assignments), and that you want to know where they are at so you can plan for their learning.

  1. During or after a concept introduction use images to probe students’ articulation of understanding

e.g. 1. Using Escher’s two head mobius, ask how does this relate to….(e.g. intercultural communication)?

e.g. 2. Using a variety of abstract images, ask students to: choose one or two images and relate them to … (e.g. theme of the story, group theory, complexity theory etc.)

Midterm, pre-final review

e.g. 1. Have students write possible questions for the quiz based on Bloom’s analysis, synthesis and evaluation (may need to be pre-taught). I have done this and it has provided immediate feedback as to student’s level of knowledge. I can then review what’s necessary or reteach if it wasn’t the outcome I wanted.

e.g. 2. Have students draw a picture of their learning and then explain in writing or orally depending on preference.

The biggest challenge with this kind of student activity is waiting as they need to have process time!

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