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  1. 1. 98 SANTALKA: Filologija, Edukologija 2012, t. 20, nr. 1. ISSN 1822-430X print/1822-4318 online STUDENTS’ REFLECTION ANALYSIS IN PORTFOLIO – BASED LEARNING Jolita Šliogerienė Mykolas Romeris University, Ateities g. 20, LT-08303 Vilnius, Lithuania E-mail: j.sliogeriene@gmail.comThe article presents the results of students’ reflection questionnaire which was the evaluation of portfolio- basedlearning at Mykolas Romeris University used in the course of Legal English. A reflection page as a structuralelement of a portfolio was implemented in students’ assessment of the covered material their feedback andevaluation of learning achievements as well as the methods applied in Legal English classes. The paper alsodescribes the advantages of writing reflection pages and students’ attitude towards this kind of method. Theconclusion is drawn that writing reflection pages gives students the opportunity to present their point of viewto what they are doing, how they are learning and how they would like to learn.Students find it useful to write comprehensive reflection pages to evaluate their studies. The results of the studyshow that writing reflection pages in a learning portfolio helps students to register their learning progressand improve their legal English.Keywords: reflection, portfolio-based learning.http://dx.doi.org/10.3846/cpe.2012.10IntroductionNowadays there are many ways to ascertain stu- theories about what reflection is and why it isdents’ evaluation of the course, the methods that so important especially for learning from ex-have been used to develop learners’ competencies perience, developing the skills of professionalin order to reach the aims of the study subject practice and for the development of metacogni-syllabus. Whatever method is used, the questions tive skills which are said to enhance learning.“Why do we use it?” and “What do we evaluate?” Reflection, in the sense defined by the Oxfordare to be answered by both the syllabus designer English Dictionary as ‘thinking deeply or care-and the students. Over the last decades, the fully about’, is a term used frequently in everydayshift from teacher-centred approach to learner- language. We usually think it will involve look-centred approach at the university has been wi- ing back over ideas or experiences, and considerdely discussed and researched which means that ourselves ‘reflecting’ rather than just thinking’traditional teaching/learning methods have also in situations where the material is complicatedbeen reconsidered and replaced by innovative and we don’t really know what the outcome willteaching/learning techniques fostering learners’ be. In the field of reflective practice, reflectioncreativity, autonomy and reflection. is described as a type of “thinking about” which Reflection is considered to be an important enables a problem solving. It involves the con-part of the learning process and there are many struction of an understanding and reframing
  2. 2. SANTALKA: Filologija, Edukologija 2012, 20(1): 98–105 99of the situation to allow professionals to apply Reflection in a new learning environmentand develop the knowledge and skills of theirprofession. Reflection is also considered to play Over the last decades the learning environmentan integral role in learning from experience and at the university has considerably changed. Thea number of researchers have developed learning changes were caused by the implementation ofcycles where the learners have a ‘learning experi- new educational theories which were followedence and then reflect on this’. Kolb (1984: 18) for by continuous introduction of new processesexample suggests that the reflection allows the in teaching and learning as well as adoptionlearners to form abstract concepts from their of lifelong learning strategies. N. Burksaitieneexperience in order to guide active experimenta- (Burkšaitienė, Teresevičienė 2008: 155–166)tion and further learning experiences. It is said names one more important reason for this shiftthat reflection helps to turn the experience into which is the rise of new attitudes towards lear-learning. R. Bubnys (2007: 2) states that reflec- ning at the tertiary level, i.e. learning throughtion is important and valuable both at the begin- understanding, critical thinking and reflectionning of accumulation of experience and later, or so called deep learning as opposed to surfacewhile systematising obtained information and learning. Portfolio -based learning is one of theanalysing feelings and experiences that arouse methods which has been widely used by manyduring learning. Reconstruction of experience tertiary level teachers to serve both encouragingis a central and continuous, overall aim. If the feedback through reflection pages as well as hel-learners want to achieve this aim, they have to ping students to register their learning progress.reflect while analysing their values, attitudes, Portfolio- based learning is considered to beemotions which, in their turn, transform un- an effective tool for enabling students to gainderstanding and provide a new sense to ideas, insights into the dynamics of their knowledgewhile relating them with previous knowledge and competence growth in an area or someand obtained information. There could be many areas over time, providing various opportunitiespractices and methods to implement reflection for feedback, developing reflective practicesin teaching/learning process: project- based that enable him or her to project their ownlearning/teaching, case study, problem based learning towards a required academic level orlearning/teaching, portfolio – based learning/ standard, allowing students to attempt moreteaching and etc. The object of our research is sophisticated and challenging assignments (cit.students’ reflection in portfolio- based learning. in Burkšaitienė, Teresevičienė 2008: 155–166).Having chosen this object, the aim of the re- While analysing issues of teaching andsearch is to analyse students’ reflection as feed- learning, attention is paid to the fact that theback and evaluation of learning in the course of learners are little oriented towards gaining suchLegal English. The methods of the research in- abilities which would allow them to achieve,clude the analysis of methodological references, select and assess knowledge and abilities and toa quantitative research, statistical data analysis independently use knowledge and skills gained(SPSS statistical package for social sciences). (Baranauskiene 2000: 60–67, 2002: 16–48;The paper explores the problem of the students’ Jarvis et al. 2004: 22–36; Ramsden 2000: 2–18;attitude towards writing reflection pages in a Zuzeviciute 2005: 35–68; Zydziunaite 2001:learning portfolio in order to give feedback and 25–52, cit. in Bubnys 2007: 1–4).evaluation of their studies. Therefore, the main Reflective thinking is central to student’shypotheses of this articleare: 1) students find it self-evaluation. In his book, Experience anduseful to write comprehensive reflection pages to Education, John Dewey (Dewey 1910: 9–12) de-evaluate their studies; 2) writing reflection pages scribes reflective thinking as the necessary stepin a learning portfolio helps students to register that must come between impulse and actiontheir learning progress. if intended purposes are to be achieved. Here
  3. 3. 100 Jolita Šliogerienė Students’ reflection analysis in portfolio – based learningwe look more closely at the process of working application of rational, higher order thinkingwith others (or ourselves) to deepen learning. skills, such as analysis, synthesis, problem re-In particular, we explore emancipating and en- cognition and problem solving, inference, andlarging experience. Experience entails thought. evaluation”. Others take the position that criticalIt includes reflection. In order to emancipate thinking is metacognition, awareness of one’sand enlarge experience, we must attend to both own thinking. To do this, Beyer (1995: 2–8)having and knowing the nature of reflection – says that the thinker must have the followinghere we look at remembering, attending to our skills: critical thinkers are skeptical, open-min-feelings, and building new understandings. ded, value fair-mindedness, respect evidenceThis is a process central to our work – learning and reasoning, respect clarity and precision,from experience according to a famous circle of look at different points of view, and changeexperiential learning according to Kolb (1984: positions when reason leads them to do so. To21) (see Fig. 1). think critically, some criteria or some standards In the pedagogical process different kinds must be applied. Critical thinking involves iden-of experiences (life experience, socio-cultural tifying, evaluating, and constructing arguments.experience, and linguistic experience) are often Critical thinkers view phenomena from manymissed and not taken into account. At the same different points of view. It should be said thattime we can admit that quite many teaching critical thinking uses many procedures, suchsituations avoid paying much attention to feel- as asking questions, making judgments, andings learners have in the process of learning. identifying assumptions. These proceduresFor these reasons, the whole system should are needed in the application of new teaching/be observed, analyzed and taken for granted. learning methods fostering reflection.Four main categories – steps are discussed in There are some learners who reflect onlythe circle of experiential learning: concrete when there is an incentive to do it or whenexperience; observation and reflection; form- guidance or conditions in their environmenting abstract concepts; testing in new situations. are conducive to reflecting. What are the main reasons for writing refection pages? There could be as many answers as tasks. In terms of pur- poses for reflection, a perusal of the literature might suggest that every time a learner chooses to write or is asked to write a reflection page or a learning journal, a different purpose for the process is given. In a review of over a hundred papers on journal writing Moon (1999: 10–36) found around eighteen purposes for journal writing. It is important to note that most jour- nals, reflection pages will fulfil more than one purpose, and that the purposes set by a tutorFig. 1. Experiential learning (after Lewin and Kolb) are not necessarily the same as those that will be fulfilled or perceived by a student. Students learn because writing a reflection page in aCategorizing critical thinking by common portfolio or a journal is a process that accentu-features at least two general views can be ates favourable conditions for learning: 1) itpresented: (1) intentional use of higher order produces intellectual space in which they canthinking skills and (2) metacognition. Angelo think; 2) it also encourages independent learn-(1995: 6) concluded, “Most formal definitions ing - learners have to write their own journalcharacterize critical thinking as the intentional and they can monitor the process and do it at
  4. 4. SANTALKA: Filologija, Edukologija 2012, 20(1): 98–105 101their own pace; 3) writing a reflection page in a ment. In some cases portfolio is used as for aportfolio or a journal also provides a focusing summative assessment in order to assess stu-point, an opportunity to gather thoughts and to dents’ made progress. Portfolio could be a reg-see the whole system of the gathered informa- ister of the subject knowledge as a file compiledtion; 4) learning from a portfolio or a journal by an individual for the particular subject but itenhances learning skills because it forces the could have the form of registering the experi-learner to cope with piles of information or ence, knowledge and assessment of all subjects,material (Sliogeriene 2005: 199–207). if this form is acknowledged at an institution. There are a lot of techniques used to de- On the other hand, portfolio as self-reportsscribe the implementation of learning journals could include all the forms of progress registers:or portfolios to facilitate reflection. There could learning journals, logs, learning contracts andbe different purposes of using reflection, includ- reflective diaries. Writing reflection pages in aing ideas such as: portfolio stimulates critical thinking and helps −− to record experience; students clarify ideas through discussion and −− to develop learning in ways that enhances debate. The level of discussion and debate with- other learning; in groups of three or more and between pairs is −− to deepen the quality of learning, in the substantially greater than when an entire class form of critical thinking or developing a participates in a teacher led discussion. Students questioning attitude; receive immediate feedback or questions about −− to enable the learners to understand their their ideas and formulate responses without own learning process; having to wait for long intervals to participate −− to facilitate learning from experience; in the discussion. This aspect of collaborative −− to increase active involvement in learning learning does not preclude whole class discus- and personal ownership of learning; sion. In fact whole class discussion is enhanced −− to increase the ability to reflect and im- by having students think out and discuss ideas prove the quality of learning; thoroughly before the entire class discusses an −− to enhance problem-solving skills; idea or concept. The level of discussion becomes −− as a means of assessment in formal edu- much more sophisticated. cation; Entries in a portfolio can be made on a −− to enhance professional practice or the regular basis and the length of an entry doesn’t professional self in practice; mean the significance or quality. There could −− to explore the self, personal constructs of be various questions that help you to start a meaning and one’s view of the world; portfolio and reflect on your learning process −− to enhance the personal valuing of the self or the progress that has been made. towards self-empowerment as a means of slowing down learning, taking more thorough account of a situation(s); Research findings −− to enhance creativity by making better use of intuitive understanding; The results of the Students reflection question- −− to provide an alternative ‘voice’ for those naire provided to learners were analysed after not good at expressing themselves; the completion of the Legal English course. The −− to foster reflective and creative interaction questionnaire was divided into two sections: in a group. the evaluation of project based learning and Usually reflective journaling (Peery 2005: the feedback on the usage of reflection pages101) or reflection pages in a portfolio are used in portfolio - based learning. The main focusfor the purpose of the improvement of learning in this article was the analysis of the secondwhich is often considered a formative assess- part of the questionnaire, concentrating on the
  5. 5. 102 Jolita Šliogerienė Students’ reflection analysis in portfolio – based learningquestions related to reflection. Distribution see whether they are making any progress, self-frequencies analysis was used to measure the evaluate and project their future studies. Thestudents’ attitude towards the implementation variable “Participating in this activity helped meof portfolio-based method in their studies; the to register my learning progress” was measured.usefulness of the reflection pages and effective- It is interesting to note that 35% of respondentsness and usefulness of writing portfolio in order strongly agreed and 28% agreed that using theto register their own progress. The findings learning portfolio helped students to registershowed that the students’ attitude towards port- their learning progress (Fig. 3). Only 6% offolio - based learning was highly positive. The the respondents strongly disagreed and 7%following responses show that 84% of students disagreed with the statement.strongly disagreed or disagreed that they wouldlearn better when the teacher explained theconcepts in class, 68% of the respondents agreedand 16% of them somewhat agreed that theportfolio will be useful for their future studies. Strongly agree AgreeData also revealed the students’ positive evalua- 1 Somewhat agreetion of portfolio – based learning as it helped Disagreethem to revise and memorise legal English Strongly disagreevocabulary. More than half of the respondentsagreed with the statement “Doing various 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%exercises in the portfolio helped me to reviselegal English vocabulary”. The variable of the Fig. 2. The usefulness of reflection pagesusefulness of reflection pages in learning a for-eign language was measured from the point ofview of the portfolio- based learning/teaching.It was interesting to notice that only 5% of res-pondents disagreed with the statement “I found Strongly agreethe reflection pages useful” while 42% strongly Agreeagreed and 27% of students found the reflection Somewhat agreepages useful in their studies (Fig. 2). Students Disagree Strongly disagreeself-assess their learning progress and writethe reflection pages identifying their strengths,weaknesses and needs. Self-assessments ask 0% 10% 20% 30% 40%students to create an active relationship withcourse material. Students may discover what Fig. 3. The influence of portfolio – based learning onthey have learned, develop questions for further learning progressstudy, identify learning needs, and more activelydirect their education. Students’ self-evaluations give the possibility Students’ feedback integrates learning — to look at their studies deeper; learners don’twe hope students will carry what they learn collect the data at random. When students ex-into their lives. The act of reflecting on one’s plore the meaning of what they have learned,learning, looking back on it and describing they often discover its usefulness, especiallyit to another person, embeds it more deeply if the learning portfolio is structured; learnersin memory. Filling in the learning portfolio follow the structure, have all the informationhelps students to gather all the information, in separate files but at the same time all learn-the course material, the written assignments, ing material is in one place. Though there aretests corrected by the teacher in one place and some students who prefer writing everything in
  6. 6. SANTALKA: Filologija, Edukologija 2012, 20(1): 98–105 103their notebooks (Fig. 4). 5% of the respondents tion of the Bonferroni criterion in Post Hoc teststrongly agreed and 12% agreed that they would tabulated the gender the results of which lead toprefer writing everything in their notebook. the conclusion that the female respondents are more willing to write reflection pages in a port- folio than males. Female respondents (61.9 %) were more positive than male respondents, i.e. they expressed a higher degree of willingness Strongly agree to write reflection pages in the portfolio than Agree male respondents even though the number of Somewhat agree Disagree male respondents dissatisfied with the overload Strongly disagree brought by filling in the portfolio was smaller than that of female (56.6 %) respondents F (5, 1247) = 22,664; p < 0.001. Respondents who 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% acknowledged that filling in the portfolio was useful to improve their legal English were moreFig. 4. Students‘ preference for notebooks positive expressing their attitude towards writ- ing reflection pages; therefore, they expressed a Correlational statistics for the variables are higher level of willingness to fill in a languagegiven in Table 1. Correlational statistics for the learning portfolio. A conclusion can be drawnusefulness of reflection pages and the usefulness that the females are more diligent and find itof portfolio to register the students’ progress more useful to write reflection pages in a lan-revealed that the Pearson coefficient was high: guage learning portfolio than men.r = 0.628**, p = 0.000. The statistical significance of filling in the Respondents’ view to the usefulness of re- language learning portfolio in order to regis-flection was positive. The usefulness of this kind ter learning progress was counted using theof activity varies among the males and females analysis of variance ANOVA. ANOVA revealedand the revealed difference is statistically signifi- statistically significant difference between thecant. F (5, 1247) = 9.843; p < 0.001. The applica- gender groups F (5, 1247) = 3,574; p < 0.005.Table 1. Correlational subordination of usefulness and efficiency of portfolio- based learning Reflection Portfolio for Portfolio for Portfolio for Portfolio for legal pages registering legal English future studies English vocabulary Reflection pages 1,000 Portfolio for regis- ,628** 1,000 tering Portfolio for legal ,535** ,422** 1,000 English Portfolio for future ,398** ,761** ,610** 1,000 studies Portfolio for legal ,162* ,116 ,375** ,488** 1,000 English vocabulary** correlation is significant at 0,01 level* correlation is significant at 0,05 level
  7. 7. 104 Jolita Šliogerienė Students’ reflection analysis in portfolio – based learningPearson correlation coefficient revealed a sig- they often discover its relevance—how ideasnificant correlation between two variables “par- apply to real life or explanations for their ownticipating in this activity helped me to register experiences.my learning progress” and “I think the portfolio Students self-assess their learning progresswill be useful for my future studies” (r = 0.76; and write the reflection pages identifying theirp < 0.01), as well as “filling in the portfolio was strengths, weaknesses and needs. While writinguseful to improve my legal English” and “I think reflection pages students express their attitudethe portfolio will be useful for my future stud- towards the material studied, the methods usedies” (r = 0.61; p < 0.01). It could be assumed in the learning/teaching process. Learners dis-that the respondents found the portfolio - based cover what they have learned, develop questionsmethod useful and efficient in registering their for further study, identify learning needs, andlearning progress. self –project their further education.Conclusions and discussion ReferencesThe results of the study indicate that the Angelo, T. A. 1995. Beginning the dialogue: Thoughts on promoting critical thinking: classroomlanguage learning portfolio implemented in assessment for critical thinking, Teaching of Psycho-legal English classes was positively evaluated logy 22(1): 6–7.by learners and acknowledged that learning http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top2201_1English for Specific Purposes in such an envi-ronment was effective. The respondents found Baranauskiene, R. 2000. Peculiarities of a Reflective Study Model in the Context of Learning, Social Sci-the portfolio - based method useful and efficient ences: Education 5(26): 60–67.in registering their learning progress. The fin-dings of the investigation clearly showed that Baranauskiene, R. 2002. The Turn of Higher Edu-the females being more diligent found it more cation Paradigm and Its Expression while Applyinguseful to write reflection pages in a language Reflective Practice in Studies (in the Context of Trai- ning Teachers of English). PhD dissertation (Sociallearning portfolio than men. When students Sciences, Education Science, 07S). Siauliai: Siauliaiexplore the meaning of what they have learned, University.they often discover its usefulness, especially ifthe learning portfolio is structured; learners Beyer, B. K. 1995. Critical thinking. Bloomington,follow the structure, have all the information in IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.separate files but everything in one place. The Bubnys, R. 2007. Constructing the Professional “I”language learning portfolio used in the course through Practical Experience and Reflecting on inwas structured to help students register their Higher Education. [Accessed on 24 February, 2012].learning progress. Available from Internet: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ educol/documents/167147.htm The major findings of correlational statisticsrevealed that the implementation of project Burkšaitienė, N.; Teresevičienė, M. 2008. Inte-based learning was successful. Having anal- grating alternative learning and assessment in aysed the results of the questionnaire “Students course of English for law students, Assessment &Reflection Questionnaire”, the following conclu- Evaluation in Higher Education 33(2): 155–166. London: Routledge.sions can be drawn: 1) students find it useful to http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930601125699write comprehensive reflection pages to evalu-ate their studies; 2) writing reflection pages in Dewey, J. 1910. How we think. Boston: D.C. Heatha learning portfolio helps students to register & Co. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/10903-000their learning progress; 3) when students ex- Jarvis, P.; Holford, J.; Griffin, C. 2004. The Theoryplore the meaning of what they have learned, and Practice of Learning. London: Routledge Falmer.
  8. 8. SANTALKA: Filologija, Edukologija 2012, 20(1): 98–105 105Kolb, D. A. 1984. Experiential Learning experience Šliogerienė, J. 2005. Promoting reflective thinkingas a source of learning and development. New Jersey: in ESP teaching, Acta paedagogica Vilnensia: moksloPrentice Hall. darbai 14: 199–207. Vilnius: Vilniaus universiteto leidykla.Moon, J. 1999. Reflection in Learning and Professio-nal Development. London: Kogan Page. Zuzeviciute, V. 2005. Modelling of Meta-cognitive Strategies in University Studies. Doctoral disserta-Peery, B. A. 2005. Improving Instruction Through tion defended, published. Kaunas: Vytautas MagnusReflective Journaling. CO: Advanced Learning University.Press. Zydziunaite, V. 2001. How to empower studentsRamsden, P. 2000. Learning to Teach in Higher Edu- pharmacy assistants to study with motivation usingcation. Vilnius: Aidai. problem solving and reflections: A study. Kaunas: Kaunas Medical School. STUDENTŲ REFLEKSIJOS ANALIZĖ MOKANTIS APLANKO METODU Jolita ŠliogerienėStraipsnyje nagrinėjamas mokymosi aplanko metodo struktūrinio elemento – refleksijos puslapių taikymoefektyvumas mokymosi procese. Refleksijos analizė atlikta panaudojus anketinį tyrimą, kurį sudarė dvi dalys:projekto metodo taikymo grįžtamojo ryšio analizė ir aplanko metodo taikymo analizė. Kaip parodė tyrimorezultatai, studentams nebuvo lengva rašyti refleksijos puslapius, bet respondentai pažymėjo, jog tai buvo labainaudinga, nes refleksija leido jiems patiems suprasti, kas jiems sunkiausiai sekėsi, kokie išlieka trūkumai, kokieyra jų poreikiai ir kaip jie norėtų projektuoti tolesnę savo veiklą. Atliktas tyrimas leidžia teigti, kad studentųmokymosi pažanga turėtų būti fiksuojama, registruojama ir vienas iš efektyviausių būdų, skatinančių studentusvesti mokymosi rezultatų registrą, yra mokymosi aplanko metodo taikymas studijoms. Respondentų atsakymairodo, kad naujo metodo, tokio kaip aplanko metodas, naudojimas svetimosios kalbos studijų kontekste skatinastudentus registruoti daromą pažangą ir ugdo saviprojekcijos kompetenciją, kas suteikia studentams galimybępradėti planuoti savo tolesnę veiklą ne tik aukštojoje mokykloje, bet ir darbo rinkoje.Reikšminiai žodžiai: refleksija, mokymosi aplanko metodas.Įteikta 2012-02-20; priimta 2012-03-12