Reflections on Student SuccessWritten by Crystal Pierce, Biology

A few years ago I had the opportunity to join one of the Communities of Practice at Harper College. Our CoP was unique in that we were all adjunct faculty coming together to create a model for extended professional development. After a lot of discussion, and with help from the Academy, we chose to reflect on our own teaching practices. We perused current literature on college teaching, created teaching philosophies, and helped each other grow as educators.

Joining the Reflective Teaching Practice CoP enabled me to examine my own instructional methods. My experience using reflection inspired me to bring this practice back to my own classroom. I implemented a reflective writing assignment that built on the skills I had developed as a member of the CoP and challenged students to think of their learning journey the same way. I asked my students to reflect on their learning each week by adding entries to their own personal blog. They also read other student’s blogs and wrote comments, which created conversations about content outside of class. Over the course of a semester, I saw how their writing changed. I was astounded by the quality of their observations, their ability to take course content and make it meaningful, and the connections they made with their fellow classmates.

At the end of the semester, I surveyed my students to examine the effectiveness of the new methods. I asked them to assess the reflective writing assignment. More than 70% of students who participated in the assignment found it to help their overall understanding of course content. My favorite quote from a student was “At first I didn’t really get it. How do I think about my learning? My first blog entries were pretty bad, but the more I did it, the easier it was. And reading everyone else’s blog was cool too because I got to know people better than I would have if we didn’t do this assignment. So yeah, it totally helped me.”

I’m looking forward to continuing my own personal reflection on my teaching and encouraging my students to reflect on their own learning.

If you have a student success story that you would like to share with the Reflection on Student Success Community of Practice please contact Steven Titus, Liberal Arts, at the following email for more information: stitus@harpercollege.edu.