A lot of teaching methods that we use are imbedded in our academic field, our institutions, or they are practises that we have learnt through our own experiences as course participants. Some of these ways of teaching have not been thought much about, meaning that not all teaching practises derives from conscious choices. However, during this ONL topic I have come to understand that, when we do reflect over our teaching practises, the choices we make are highly related our own philosophical orientation to learning. One such orientation is to take on a constructivist approach to learning. A constructivist approach is student centred, starting with the student’s prior knowledge. New knowledge is then added while reflecting on how it relates to what the learner already knew (Sandhya 2009). I find this constructivist approach to relate very much to my own experiences both as a learner and teacher. I have always found that I need to link new information to something I find interesting, keeping a curious mind and making connections in order to learn. I also guess that when we meet students that are lost, it might many times be due to that they haven´t found their connection to the topic. This is why I find the one-to-one teaching situation that thesis supervision creates so rewarding as you so easily can meet the students where they are in their learning process. Also group supervisions or seminars where we get the opportunity to discuss individual students work tend to give me the same feeling of meeting the students on their terms. However, these types of individual or small group settings are not that common in my higher education setting. Often there are groups of 30 or more students. So how do we take these lessons with us into these situations, especially in online or blended courses? One thing that I would like to try to implement is this type of reflective writing. That would be one way of making students reflect on the course activities, and the course literature, in relation to their own prior knowledge. As it takes some time to learn how to reflect, it needs to be a continuous activity throughout the course with timely feedback from me as a teacher (Pennbrant 2019). Possibly also integrating a peer review system, so that students can learn from each other, but also lessen the feedback burden on me as a teacher. Whether reflective writing should be graded or not seems to be an ongoing discussion, but if graded students should be given a grading rubric or equivalent so that they get a clear understanding of the requirements (McGuire 2012, Dukewich 2015). For my course planning I would like to make the recurring reflective writing assignments be part of the final grade, so that students when they reach the end of the course have done most of their course work. This would likely make a good design for those non-compulsory courses that tend to de-prioritized if other obligatory course work takes up too much time at the end of term.
Dukewich, K. & Vossen, D. (2015). “Toward Accuracy, Depth and Insight: How Reflective Writing Assignments Can Be Used to Address Multiple Learning Objectives in Small and Large Courses”, CELT Vol. VIII, 97-110.
McGuire, L., Lay, K., & Peters, J. (2012). Pedagogy of Reflective Writing in Professional Education. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 93–107. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/1718
Pennbrant, H. Nunstedt, L. Bernhardsson (2019) LEARNING THROUGH REFLECTION –THE PORTFOLIO METHOD AS A TOOL TO PROMOTE WORK-INTEGRATED LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION, INTED2019 Proceedings, pp. 729-739.
Sandhya N. Baviskar 1, R. Todd Hartle & Tiffany Whitney (2009) Essential Criteria to Characterize Constructivist Teaching: Derived from a review of the literature and applied to five constructivist‐teaching method articles, International Journal of Science Education, 31:4, 541-550, DOI: 10.1080/09500690701731121