A comparison of students’ reflective thinking across different years in a problem-based learning environment
- 897 Downloads
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a constructivist approach to learning which is believed to promote reflective thinking in students. This study investigated how students in one particular institution developed in their reflective thinking habits—Habitual Action, Understanding, Reflection, and Critical Reflection—as they went through the daily practice of PBL. A 16-item questionnaire measuring the four levels of reflective thinking habits was administered to four cohorts of students: an incoming cohort, first-years, second-years, and third-years. First-year students rated themselves higher on Reflection and Critical Reflection, while third-years reported the highest levels of Habitual Action. Discriminatory and scatterplot analysis on the third year cohort revealed that while a proportion of students (47%) reported higher levels of Habitual Action with lower levels of Reflection, there was a small subgroup who also reported higher levels of both Habitual Action and Reflection. Overall, the results showed that PBL does promote the development of reflective thinking, particularly for first-year students, but that this development is not sustained consistently after that. This pointed to other possible factors that could hinder students’ development of reflective thinking in PBL.
KeywordsReflection Critical reflection Transformative learning Problem-based learning Higher education Reflection questionnaire
The author wishes to thank Kevin S. Carlson, Glen O’Grady, and Jerome Rotgans, as well as the three anonymous reviewers, for their helpful suggestions and comments in preparing this article for submission.
- Fogarty, R. (1994). The mindful school: How to teach for metacognitive reflection. Palatine, IL: Skylight Publishing.Google Scholar
- Harrison, M., Short, C., & Roberts, C. (2003). Reflecting on reflective learning: The case of geography, earth and environmental sciences. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 27(2), 133.Google Scholar
- Hatton, N., & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: Towards definition and implementation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11(1), 33–49.Google Scholar
- Kitchener, K. S., & King, P. M. (1990). The reflective judgment model: Transforming assumptions about knowing. In J. Mezirow & Associates (Ed.), Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: A guide to transformative and emancipatory learning (pp. 159–176). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Engle-wood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- O’Grady, G., & Alwis, W. A. M. (2002). One day, one problem: PBL at the Republic Polytechnic. Paper presented at the 4th Asia Pacific Conference in PBL, Thailand, December 2002.Google Scholar
- Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational Technology, 35(5), 31–38.Google Scholar
- Stein, D. (2000). Teaching critical reflection. Eric Clearinghouse on adult, career, and vocational education, myths and realities (No. 7). ERIC document number ED445256.Google Scholar