Report vs Reflection CS 1150 (PEEE)
J. Philip East
I often have students write about their class activity and learning. Usually, I request that the writing be reflective, or at least include some reflection. There is usually some confusion as to my expectations. It is my hope that this document adds clarity to what I would like to receive.
Reflection often begins with a report of fact or opinion. The "report" communicates what was done, observed, thought, etc. Some possible facts and opinions to report are:
- programming language features (blocks/statements) used
- programming basics encountered
- thinking or problem solving skills used
- some difficulty encountered and/or overcome
- something that was easy (or easier than anticipated)
- challenging aspects of the task or activity
- something liked or disliked about the activity
- whether the activity is appropriate for elementary students
- amount of time spent
- enjoyment (or the lack of it) during the activity
- overall difficulty of a task
Elements of reporting can be as short as a single sentence or even a phrase. They could also be longer, perhaps a paragraph or even two when some explanation of the element seems necessary.
As noted above, reflection starts with a report of something but it does not end there. Reflection involves mental activity such as:
- Connecting reported information to personal experience (and explaining the connection)
- Considering consequences, pursuing "what if ...?" questions
- Placing experience in a larger context (and discussing implications)
- Analogizing (and explaining the analogy)
- Explicating your feelings/reaction (and communicating attempts to understand them/it or the implications of the reaction)
You might examine Reflection (a .pdf from Queen Margaret University's effective learning service) to get some additional sense of reflection and its utility.
You start with a fact, observation, or opinion, then go further. The "further" could be an explanation of an opinion (the basis for the opinion—why/how you think you arrived at it). The "further" could also be an idea for an extension of the activity and a rationale for it (why you think the extension would be useful). Some other possibilities are:
- Would the students you hope to teach benefit from this activity? Why or why not?
- How might you extend/adapt/improve this activity? Why you think the change is an improvement?
- What do you think made some reported difficulty difficult? Might your students experience the same difficulty? What would you recommend for overcoming it?
- An explanation of insights gained into the coding elements and thinking skills