Hi everyone! My name is Jennifer Ann Morrow and I am the program coordinator for the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement doctoral program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. I have been teaching novice evaluators for the past 18 years.
Reflective practice is an important part of what evaluators do. As evaluators we reflect for a variety of reasons: to summarize an experience, to enhance our learning, to explore our feelings, and to make sense of what we know. As an educator I try to impart the importance of reflective practice on my students, however I have struggle at times to get them to see the usefulness of reflecting. It is important to get novice evaluators reflecting on their learning early on in the evaluation process and not just after a project has been completed. So, this semester I decided to try something new in my Introduction to Program Evaluation two-semester course. I’ve incorporated required reflection journals throughout both courses as students are designing an evaluation proposal for a real client, conducting the evaluation, and summarizing and disseminating key findings.
- Provide structure and guidelines for reflection: To get students started on the path of consistent reflection, provide them with clear instructions and guidelines for their reflection journal assignment.
- Encourage creativity! Students are free to write in paragraph form, bulleted lists, designing or attaching visuals, or to include audio notes as they are reflecting.
- Prompt them with questions: I provide some suggested prompts to help guide them through this process (e.g., “What have you progressed on/been successful with regarding your evaluation activities this week?”, “What evaluation/class related struggles have you experienced this week?”, and “What skills have you learned/been enhanced for you this week?”).
- Set DEADLINES: I set specific deadlines (4 per semester) where they are required to upload their reflections online. I try to provide feedback within a week of submission, as I’ve found that being attentive enhances the reflection process for students.
Encourage your students to be creative when they are reflecting on their evaluation experiences. For example, there’s the Reflective Question Colouring Book!
I also recommend an article that provides a model and structure to reflection both alone and with others, entitled Demystifying Reflective Practice.
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