HSC 15311 DQ Self Reflection and Reference Materials

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HSC 15311 DQ Self Reflection and Reference Materials

HSC 15311 DQ Self Reflection and Reference Materials

At this
point in the course, you are becoming fairly proficient at recognizing and
using various word parts within medical terms. We have covered many of
“the basics” of medical terminology, but as with any new language,
you will continue to learn and use new words throughout your careers. You will
come across unfamiliar words, phrases, and abbreviations for many years to
come. In order to be prepared for this, it is important to identify valid and
reliable resources for medical information.

For your
initial post, please provide one example of a valid and reliable resource that
you would be able to use in your future career. Keep in mind that it’s probably
not feasible to carry around a physical book while performing your job. What
kind of resources would be available for you in your chosen career? Online,
mobile, and other versatile resources might be useful sources to consider. Make
sure to cite your reference appropriately (in APA format) and describe why you
believe it is a valid and reliable source of information.

For your
reply post, access the resource that your classmate identified. Use this source
to find 3 terms that are unfamiliar to you. List and define those medical terms
in your post. Also, do you agree that this reference is a valid and reliable
source of information? Why or why not?

The role of reflection in education has created an upsurge of interest amongst educators and researchers since Dewey’s () ground-breaking work, which emphasized the positive roles that reflection might play in fostering students’ self-reflection, critical thinking, and in the demonstrable development of professional values or skills. Self-reflection (or simply, reflection) has received numerous definitions from different sources in the literature. In his work, Dewey had defined reflection as “active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends” (p. 9). According to Mann et al. (), they suggest that Dewey’s definition of reflection shares similarities with our understanding of critical thinking. Boud et al. () aptly define reflection in the context of learning and focus more on one’s personal experience as the object of reflection, as referring to “those intellectual and affective activities that individuals engage into explore their experience, which leads to new understanding and appreciations” (p. 19). The definition of reflection by Moon (), on the other hand, focuses more on the role of reflection and learning, and embeds reflection into the learning process. She describes reflection as “a form of mental processing with a purpose and/or anticipated outcome that is applied to relatively complex or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution” (p. 23). All three definitions though focus on different contexts, share similarities in that they emphasize purposeful critical analysis of knowledge and experience so as to achieve deeper meaning and understanding.

The definitions of self-reflection, though heterogeneous, are united in their advocacy to improve student learning. In the present study, self-reflection is influenced by these interpretations. It refers to the processes that a learner undergoes to look back on his past learning experiences and what he did to enable learning to occur (i.e. self-reflection on how learning took place), and the exploration of connections between the knowledge that was taught and the learner’s own ideas about them (i.e. self-reflection on what was learned). It is contended that since processes such as these can lead to informed and thoughtful deliberations on one’s behaviours and actions, they are believed to assist learners to become better at self-reflection, which leads subsequently to better academic achievement.

Reflection and problem-based learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) tend to be characterized by students working collaboratively in small groups, with learning centred on problems relevant to the students’ domain of study and much time spent on self-directed learning. In PBL, students learn by solving problems and reflecting on their experiences (Hmelo-Silver ). Reflecting on the relationship between problem solving and learning is a critical component of PBL and is needed to support the construction of extensive and flexible knowledge (Salomon and Perkins ). According to Salomon and Perkins, self-reflection helps students to (a) review the group process and their own personal functioning in the group, (b) understand how their learning and problem-solving strategies might be reapplied, and (c) relate new knowledge to prior understanding (i.e. contents that were discussed and taught). PBL incorporates reflection several times throughout the learning process and when completing a problem. At the completion of a problem, students reflect on what they have learned, how well they collaborated with the group, and how effectively they directed their learning. As such, students learn self-reflection when they become proficient in assessing their own progression in learning.

In her work, Hmelo-Silver () highlighted that while a tutor can support self-reflection in PBL, other techniques may also be helpful. One approach to improving self-reflection is through the use of reflection journals.

Reflection journals, self-reflection and academic achievement

Self-reflection’s currency as a topic of educational importance has resulted in the incorporation of reflection journals as learning tools that promote reflection into many curricula, including PBL (Mann et al. ). Reflection journal writing is believed to enable students to critically review processes of their own learning and behaviours, and to understand their ability to transform their own learning strategies (Gleaves et al. ). Reflection journals are variously referred to as “reflective journals” (e.g. Chirema ), “reflective learning journals” (e.g. Thorpe ) or “learning journals” (e.g. Moon ). Although used in a variety of courses, reflection journals are essentially written records that students create as they think about various concepts learned, about critical incidents involving their learning, or about interactions between students and teachers, over a period of time for the purpose of gaining insights into their own learning (Thorpe ). The purposes of reflection journal writing include: to critically review the behaviours (e.g. strengths and weaknesses; learning styles and strategies) (Weinstein and Mayer ); learning of self and others; setting or tracking learning goals (i.e. how learning took place) (Lew and Schmidt ); and exploring connections between knowledge that was learned and students’ own ideas about them (Moon ). It is hoped that through reflecting and writing about new information or ideas, learners can better understand and remember them. In addition, the articulation of connections between new information, ideas, prior or existing knowledge also deepens learning (O’Rourke ).

The literature reports of a positive association between journal keeping and learners’ cognitive skills. In their study, McCrindle and Christensen () explored the impact of reflection journal writing on cognitive processes and academic performances of forty undergraduates in a first-year biology course. Students were randomly assigned to a learning journal (experimental) group or scientific report (control) group. Their findings demonstrate that students in the experimental group used more cognitive strategies during a learning task as compared to those in the control group. Students who kept learning journals also showed more sophisticated conceptions of learning, greater awareness of cognitive strategies, and demonstrated the construction of more complex and related knowledge structures when learning from text. They also performed significantly better on the final examination for the course. While the data from this study are suggestive, it is unclear as to the precise nature of the relationships between students’ conceptions of learning and their cognitive processes, and more research is required to explicate these links.

The literature offers evidence that students, regardless of their domains of study, show improvements in their learning, that is, students became better in self-reflection, through journal keeping, although students did not reportedly become better at earning higher test grades. For instance, Selfe et al. () investigated the use of reflection journals in a college-level mathematics course. Their findings suggest that while reflection journals did not necessarily assist students with earning high grades on achievement tests, they did assist students in developing abstract thinking thereby enabling them to better conceptualize the meaning of technical definitions. Students appeared to develop better strategies in problem solving through writing as compared to mere memorizing of calculations. In addition, students also showed improvements in their reflective writing skills, for instance, they were able to develop personal conceptual definitions that were more understandable than technical definitions of the texts. The findings by Selfe and colleagues were mirrored in the study by Moon (), where she summarized a number of studies which examined the effects of reflection journal writing on student academic achievement across a variety of disciplines. She reported that some studies showed effects, whilst others did not. Like Selfe and colleagues, Moon’s work also demonstrated the influence of journal keeping on student academic performance was subtle and did not seem to assist students with achieving better achievement test grades. However, this conclusion which they drew could be due to small sample sizes and poor measurement of the content of students’ journal responses in the studies reported.

The evidence to support and inform the curricular intervention of reflection journal writing as a means to improve students’ self-reflection and thus academic achievement remains largely theoretical. In addition, most of the present studies in the literature involved only a limited number of participants where students’ reflection journals were usually rated by teachers and hence any conclusions derived may be overly subjective. To maximize the validity of our findings, we did not rely on the reflection journals of a selected, small group of students.

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Instead, we collected data from 690 first-year students of a polytechnic, and used an objective analysis by subjecting students’ journal responses to an automated coding procedure using software (Lew and Schmidt ).

Aims of the study

The students in our study repeatedly had to reflect on how and what they have learned as the semester unfolded, and received continuous feedback from their teachers on their performances. The purposes of the present study were two-fold: first, to evaluate whether reflection journal writing was effective in promoting self-reflection and learning, and whether students become better at self-reflection if they engage continuously in reflection journal writing. It was hypothesized that self-reflection and academic achievement influenced each other interactively, i.e. students by looking back on how and what they have learned results in them having better self-reflection skills, which subsequently lead them to perform better in the classroom or on knowledge acquisition tests. Second, we were interested to investigate which type of reflection (i.e. self-reflection on how learning took place and/or what was learned) was more effective in promoting learning and thus academic achievement. To that end, students’ reflection journals were compared with their classroom performance and academic test grades for an academic year.



Participants included 690 applied science students in their first year of studies at a polytechnic in Singapore in the academic year 2007–2008. They were enrolled in three-year science diploma courses such as Biomedical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biotechnology. Of these students, 426 (62%) were females and 264 (38%) were males, and their mean age was 17.21 years (SD = 1.28).

Educational context


Problem-based learning

The polytechnic at which the research was carried out organizes its curriculum according principles of problem-based learning (Schmidt and Moust ). Students work collaboratively in teams of four to five, with learning centred on problems relevant to their domain of study. They work on one problem each day. The problem is initially discussed in the morning, followed by individual study. At the end of the day, information gathered is shared and elaborated upon. No didactic teaching takes place nor is there any form of direct instruction. One tutor supervises the student teams in a larger classroom. His or her role is to facilitate student learning (Alwis ). There are two semesters in an academic year, with each semester lasting 16 weeks. All the courses offered are part of a three-year curriculum.


Data collection versus assessment in the curriculum

The daily assessment approach consists of four elements: (1) a classroom performance grade awarded by the tutor based on how well a student has performed during the day (2) an activity in which a student assessed his or her own performance for the day, and (3) an activity in which a student assessed his or her team mates’ performances for the day, and (4) a reflection journal to be written by each student. The classroom performance grade is measured based on tutors’ observations of students’ processes of daily learning. The observations by the tutors include students’ self-directedness, level of participation inclusive of teamwork; students’ ability to reason, justify and defend opinions and ideas formulated in respond to problems, as well as their problem solving skills. Tutors will then award grades ranging from “A” to “F”, which are derived based on what they observe and the impression they have on each student during the duration of time they had with him/her. Tutors also take into consideration students’ individual reflection journals (short essays which document students’ reflections on daily learning) and their self and peer assessments when awarding grades. Furthermore, tutors will provide feedback to students on their learning outcomes and processes of daily learning.

The reflection journal records a student’s reflections of daily learning in response to a reflection journal question provided by the tutor. Each student is required to respond to one journal question per day. The student submits his/her reflection journal electronically by means of an online platform by the end of the day. Tutor-asked journal questions required students to be reflective about their learning and development. Some examples of reflection journal questions include “Discuss your effectiveness as a team player/leader in solving the problem today.”, “What insights did I gain today?”, “How can you apply some of the skills and knowledge that you have learned?”, “What strategies have I used to help me in my learning?” and so on. Students respond to a different reflection journal question each day during a 5-day workweek. The purpose of writing the reflection journal is to encourage and record self-reflection about how learning took place and what was learned. Some examples of students’ journal responses are contained in the appendix section.

Students also need to take four knowledge acquisition tests per module, which are taken at different points (i.e. after every 3–4 weeks) during the semester. The tests are conducted in a supervised environment, similar to an end-of-course examination and require students to answer at least three open-structured questions. Students are tested on their ability to understand and apply what they have learned. The knowledge acquisition test grades range from “A” to “F”.


The classroom performance and knowledge acquisition grades were first converted to scaled numerical values on a five-point scale. The averages of the knowledge acquisition grades for that of semesters 1 and 2 were computed and used for the analyses.


The tutor grades were first converted to scaled numerical values on a five-point scale. In seeking evidence of reflective activities through reflection journal writing, student journals were analyzed using the SPSS Text Analysis for SurveyTM software (SPSS ). The software uses advanced linguistic theory technologies that extract and classify key concepts from student journal responses. These technologies analyze content as a set of phrases and sentences whose grammatical structure provides a context for the meaning of a response. The software enables the coding and categorization of journal responses in a fraction of the time required to do the job manually. Another benefit is that the categorization of responses is done consistently and reliably; the responses are analyzed in an iterative manner. Unlike human coders, the software classifies the same response in the same categories every time.

The first step in content analysis is to extract key terms and ideas from the journal responses. The engine uses linguistic algorithms and resources to identify relevant concepts. This means that extraction does not treat a response as a set of unrelated words, but it identifies key words, compound words, and patterns in the text. Pre-coded definitions were the linguistic resources used to extract terms from the journal responses.

The extracted terms were grouped into categories by the software. As used in content analysis, a category refers to a group of closely related concepts, opinions or attitudes. The software relies upon three linguistic-based techniques that take into account the root meanings of the extracted terms and their relationship between sets of similar objects or opinions: term derivationterm inclusion and semantic networks (SPSS , p. 101). Because these techniques are complementary to one another, all of them are used for categorizing the extracted terms.

The term derivation technique creates categories by taking a term and finding other terms that are related to it by analyzing whether any of the terms components are morphologically related. For instance, the term “opportunities for self-reflection” would be grouped with the term “self-reflection opportunities”. The term inclusion technique uses algorithms to create categories by taking a term and finding other terms that include it. When determining inclusion, word order and the presence of such words as “in” or “of” are ignored. As illustration, given the term “skill”, term inclusion will group terms such as “programming skills” and “a set of skills” in a skill category. The root term used to create the category (skill) can have words before it, after it, or both before and after (“programming skill set”).

The semantic networks technique creates categories using a semantic/lexical network based on WordNet®, a linguistic project based in Princeton University (Miller ). WordNet® is a reference system of “Nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms, each representing one underlying lexical concept.” This method begins by identifying extracted terms that are known synonyms and hyponyms (i.e. a word that is more specific than the category represented by a term, e.g. student, tutor and peer are hyponyms of the term “person”).

In order to analyze the journal responses in a more meaningful fashion, a custom library was created. This library contained domain-specific words and terms (with synonyms) that arose from the modules taken by all first-year students. In this particular institution, all students were required to take two mathematics and computer applications modules in their first year of studies. These modules consisted of several tasks which asked students to create spreadsheets and basic computer programs to perform simple numerical functions. Using these modules as an example, domain-specific words would include “visual basics programming”, “Microsoft excel graphs”, “spreadsheets” etc.

The categories that were automatically generated were also renamed to capture their essential meanings. The descriptions of the categories obtained are contained in Table 1 (see also Lew and Schmidt ).

Table 1

Description of categories generated by means of text analysis software

Category Sub-category Description Examples of reference studies
Critical review of past learning experiences Self

To look over or examine self-performance. This includes:

Learning strengths and weaknesses

Setting or tracking learning goals

Learning styles such as visual, auditory, and tactile

Lew and Schmidt (); Moon ()

To look over or examine peers’ performance. This includes:

Team work, and team dynamics, i.e. cooperativeness and level of contributions, and

Helping peers with their learning, or seeking help from peers


To look over or study the products of learning, which emerged as a result of relating knowledge structures from text. This includes:

Domain-specific skills, e.g.: graph-plotting using Microsoft Excel, Visual Basics programming, Microsoft PowerPoint etc.

Presentation slides, self-created computer programs, self-creating Excel accounting spreadsheets, classroom performance grades etc.

Learning strategies Rehearsal Oral repetition, copying, making selective verbatim responses and underlining the important parts of the material McCombs and Whistler (); Weinstein and Mayer ()
Organization Categorizing information, creating knowledge networks and hierarchies (e.g. mind maps)
Elaboration Creating analogies or mental images, generative note taking and self-questioning
Summaries of what was learned To relate new information to prior or existing knowledge; applicability of knowledge gained to other situations Moon (); O’Rourke (); Selfe et al. ()

The outcomes of the text analyses suggest that students appeared to reflect on three general categories related to their learning in their reflection journals: critical review, learning strategies, and summaries of what was learned (see Table 1 for description).

Data used were for the analyses were student reflection journals for an entire week during Week 3 of the first semester and again during Week 14 of the second semester of the academic year 2007–2008. Data from Week 1 was not considered as it being the start of a new academic year, a steady state in the student enrolment had yet to be reached as students were still appealing to enter or change polytechnics. The student enrolment figures reached a steady state by the second week. Data from weeks 15 and 16 were not considered because the attendance of students in classes was poor for the last 2 weeks of the academic year; the number of reflection journals submitted in the last 2 weeks was significantly lower as compared to that for week 14.

Identical categories were generated for both sets of data. The number of instances which each category appeared in each student’s journal response was recorded and used for comparison against students’ performance in class (i.e. classroom performance grades) and on knowledge acquisition tests.

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