One form of reflection that is gaining currency in classroom settings is called “write to learn.”
In essence, students reflect on a recent class topic in a brief writing assignment, where they may express the main ideas in their own words and relate them to other concepts covered in class, or perhaps outside class. ”
An interesting recent study specifically examined “write to learn” as a learning tool.
Over eight hundred college students in several introductory psychology classes listened to lectures throughout the semester. Following the presentation of a key concept within a given lecture, the instructor asked students to write to learn.
Students generated their own written summaries of the key ideas, for example restating concepts in their own words and elaborating on the concepts by generating examples of them.
For other key concepts presented during the lecture, students were shown a set of slides summarizing the concepts and spent a few minutes copying down key ideas and examples verbatim from the slide. What was the result?
On exams administered during the semester, the students were asked questions that assessed their understanding of the key concepts that they had worked on learning. They scored significantly (approximately half a letter grade) better on the ones they had written about in their own words than on those they had copied, showing that it was not simply exposure to the concepts that produced the learning benefit.
In follow-up tests approximately two months later to measure retention, the benefits of writing to learn as a form of reflection had dropped but remained robust.
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