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Reflective Learning Journals in Computer Science: The Student Experience

Author Graham Glanville, Brett A. Becker
Abstract This paper is centred on undergraduate students enrolled on a BSc in IT programme in Dublin, Ireland, with a view to enhancing student engagement in learning through reflexivity. Reflective learning places the emphasis on the self as the source of learning and is inherently an individual and interactive process. Boud et al. (1985) state that reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning. The authors developed and evaluated a reflective learning journal tool that was used to capture the reflective learning processes within students studying computer programming, a subject known to present significant learning barriers for 1st year BSc computing students. In addition, existing student study habit behaviours were investigated to determine which approaches, materials and sources they had a preference for, to further shape the delivery of module content in the future. The conclusions from this study indicate that the use of a reflective learning journal can lead to frustration for some students. While some students did indicate benefits in using the journal, the negative comments outweighed the positive overall, and therefore reflective learning journals should no be recommended to all students, at least for environments such as that studied in this paper. The possible benefits of using a reflective learning journal can be discussed with future cohorts, but in our case it will be up to the individual student if he or she chooses to use one. Reflecting on learning is complicated and is not a simple activity for all to engage in, and this research highlights the challenges. The approach and tool used in this empirical research must be factored into the conclusion, as other approaches and tools may yield a more encouraging result. Any further research in reflective learning should include other tools and approaches that have proven successful in higher education, and perhaps, an appropriate method might be evaluated.
Keywords Reflective learning journal, Reflexivity
Published In ICEP Proceedings 2016
Date 2016
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