2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Assessing Student Understanding of Reflection in Engineering Education

Presented at Research on Design Learning

The use of reflection in engineering education is often used but with little investigation to the utility or effectiveness in engineering education. Efforts made by the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) have drawn attention to how reflection is used in the engineering curriculum. What is unknown is whether students recognize why their courses embed reflection activities. The following paper assessed student conceptions of what it means to reflect and why they are asked to reflect in their project-based design courses. Our intended goal was to see if students understood what reflection is and appreciate reflection as a lifelong skill rather than assignments to be graded or a waste of time. Our findings suggest that most students see reflection as an opportunity to look back at what they have done. A subset of students also saw reflection as a process or something that will impact future actions. Students mostly associated reflection with positive actions rather than focusing on mistakes and failures. They saw the main intent of reflection as being learner-centered, with some seeing reflection as having impact on a design project, their profession, life, or the particular class in which they were asked to reflect. This explicit look at student conceptions of reflection within a design context provides faculty with an understanding of what students bring to their class and how they can frame reflection activities to better compliment their students learning.

  1. Dr. Kristine R. Csavina Arizona State University [biography]
  2. Ms. Cherrylynne Rochelle Nethken Arizona State University
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