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Scaffolding critical reflection for career self-efficacy using a micromodule

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Introduction
As part of its specialised Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP), Singapore Institute of Technology requires its undergraduate students to gain 6 to 12 months of relevant work experience before graduating. Central to this work experience is the act of critical reflection on the learning gained over the course of their internship. Such reflections, drawn from journal entries, are intended to provide students with a substantive record to consolidate their learning experience. However, mentors and tutors often comment on various deficiencies when they come to assess students’ reflective work. In particular, a general tendency to narrate processes and procedures encountered in the workplace rather than provide insights into practical learning has been highlighted. Connections between the learning experience itself and content drawn from their various courses, past learning, life experience and/or personal goals have tended not to be drawn. Therefore, a new approach using an originally developed micromodule was undertaken to prompt students to reflect critically. The ability to reflect critically is key to career self-efficacy (Lent, Brown & Hackett, 1994) and a growth mindset (Dweck & Leggett, 1988), a competency that undergraduates need to possess in a rapidly evolving working world (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2021).

Method
Five IWSP module leads responded to a learning needs analysis survey we sent. The analysis identified that the following were lacking in students’ reflections: (1) sufficient details in the depth and significance of the reflection, (2) unclear writing impeding readers’ understanding, and (3) poor logical development and coherence. To address the weaknesses noted above, three contemporary models of critical thinking and reflection were selected and consolidated into one approach to assist students in preparing a more instructive record of their progress on their internships. Each unit in the micromodule is designed to take learners through three levels of learning. First, Discovery quizzes at the commencement of each of the separate topics stimulate thought and activate core concepts. Developmental activities in middle of the micromodule provide useful tips and techniques connected with the process of reflecting critically. Reinforcement exercises as the end of the topic include summary quizzes to help consolidate key points and take-aways.

Results
Based upon this, an interactive, multimedia-themed micromodule was developed incorporating Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (Kolb, 1984), the STAR+RL framework used in competency-based interviews (Interview Skills Consulting Ltd, 2016), and the Paul-Elder framework for critical thinking (Paul & Elder, 2006). An easily remembered visual depiction of the new approach was also designed. Students revisit this integrated model via examples and interactive activities as they go through the 3 topics addressing the concerns raised from the learning needs analysis. As they complete the micromodule, students come to learn about the distinction between doing, reviewing, concluding and planning their learning in their internship experience, using critical thinking elements, standards and traits. Immediate feedback is provided upon completion of various activities in the micromodule, and e-resources are made available for further exploration. A badge is awarded upon completion of all sections in a topic and a certificate upon completion of all 3 topics.

Conclusion
In conclusion, in an era of global change and disruptive technologies, reflecting critically is a skill that can be of real benefit for those looking to advance their academic and professional careers. It is therefore hoped that this critical reflection e-module can assist in students efficiently and effectively realising that on their personal learning journey.

History

Journal/Conference/Book title

Applied Learning Conference 2022, 20-21 January 2022, Online

Publication date

2022-01