Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Diary: Scaffolding Reflection

Scaffolding Sometimes, when you're so close to a problem for a long time, the only solution is to talk it though with a colleague who knows what the constraints are so that you can escape the echo chamber inside your head. That's exactly what happened yesterday when I talked though how to scaffold reflection on Friendfeed for our first year students in the coming term with Jo.

This term I want to move on from the staff-led reflection (topic suggestion) which worked last term to a more student-led structure where people decide what they want to write about for themselves. And yet, our previous experience says that scaffolding is of critical importance for most students to be able to achieve significant authentic reflection, and that a chronological structure is the most important and effective element of guidance we can give (without telling them what to write).

In a flash fit spurt of inspiration, we came up with Dear Diary, and associated light-touch assessment. Will this be an effective tool to scaffold self-initiated reflection on a social network? We'll see, but we can already guess that only a minority of these students will be able to come to grips with deep professional reflection as a regular part of their academic practice. This is a numbers game, maximizing the return in the ZPD.


  1. So glad that me just drinking tea in your office is enough for inspiration to strike. Perhaps I'll make a cardboard cut out for you to prop up in the corner?

    It will be interesting to see if this will work. I hope we can draw out some reflection from the diary entries in our discussions with them online. I predict that we will see:
    1. a drop off in overall participation in friendfeed due to the lower percentage of marks it will contribute to the overall module mark
    2. increased engagement and reflection by those that continue (leaning on an open door)
    3. some good quality reflection by the end of this term.

    You can write a post in March and give me marks out of 10 on my future predictions ;-)Of course the unknown element here is whether our term of previous use of friendfeed (compared to 2009/10) combined with events this term that we know promote reflection (first year exams,return from 'home' back to uni, exam results, increased workload and getting down to 'real' science) will promote more engagement and reflection anyway.

  2. I agree with your predictions.
    And that there are too many confounding factors between this year and last to draw many useful conclusions from this.

  3. How about a 'diary room' (via webcam) as well as 'dear diary' option. Or would that go the same way as Seesmic.

    Bring back Disqus!