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Thursday, June 23 • 13:45 - 14:45
CON07.03a - Fostering Effective Learning: The Use of Reflective Learning Journals in a Statistics Class

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Reflective learning entails a thoughtful and meaningful learning process, through which one not only learns a particular piece of knowledge or skill, but better understands how they learned it – knowledge that can then be transferred well beyond the scope of the specific learning experience (see Brockbank & McGill, 1998). Reflective learning empowers learners by making them more active participants in the learning process, encouraging them to think about their learning in a deeper and more critical way. Statistics courses are often dreaded by (non-statistics) students, and instructors teaching these courses face unique challenges, with student anxiety being chief among them (Conners, Mccown, Roskos-Ewoldsen, 1998). A pre-class survey of my own introductory statistics course revealed that over half of the students felt “very anxious” about taking the class, though notably almost everyone also reported feeling “very motivated” to do well. For these reasons, I believed that a reflective learning journal might be particularly well-suited for this class. Based on previous research (e.g., McGrath, 2014; Salinas, 2004), my hope was that the journals would allow students to better cope with their anxiety, by increasing their self-efficacy and encouraging them to take control of the situation. Informal comments that I have received from the students, as well as survey data collected during the semester, suggests that the journals were a success, at least for a portion of the students (e.g., “reflecting on my own learning has been fundamental in my improvement in this course”). Attendees will be able to describe the potential benefits of reflective learning practices, explain how one specific practice (online journal entries) was adopted in a large statistics course, discuss evidence regarding its effectiveness and ways in which it could be improved, and hopefully leave with some ideas of how to adopt similar practices into their own courses.


Ashley Waggoner Denton

Ashley Waggoner Denton is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD in Social Psychology from Indiana University in 2012. She teaches courses in Social Psychology, as well as Introductory Psychology and... Read More →

Thursday June 23, 2016 13:45 - 14:45 EDT