Reflective Learning

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Reflecting, or exploring the meaning of experiences and the consequences of the meanings for future action, has always been essential in the development of expertise. Reflection and the promotion of reflective techniques are becoming more important in engineering education because of the expanding need for diverse, adaptive, broad-thinking, and nimble engineering experts who can respond to the ever-increasing challenges that society faces.


Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education

To address this need for a broader understanding and use of reflective techniques in engineering education, the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) was established in March 2014 with funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Consortium is lead by Drs. Cindy Atman and Jennifer Turns at University of Washington. Partner schools include Stanford University, as well as Arizona State University, Bellevue College, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Clarkson University, Green River Community College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Highline College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Seattle Central College, Seattle University.

The Stanford CPREE effort is being lead by DEL scholars, Dr. Helen L. Chen and Dr. Peggy Boylan-Ashraf.

Major Milestones

Major milestones for the first year of this two-year project include identifying reflective practices already in use across the campus (with particular emphasis on engineering and the sciences), and engaging Stanford faculty, students and staff in conversation on “what is reflection?” In the second year, pilot projects will be initiated to expand the use of reflective practices, particularly in the freshmen and sophomore years.

Electronic Learning Portfolios (ePortfolios)

Chloe pondering.jpg
While portfolios have a long tradition in art, architecture, and teacher education, interest in ePortfolios has grown across higher education in the last decade for a variety of purposes and audiences.  This may include the typical "showcase" portfolio that is outward-facing and represents a curated collection of exemplary work to a "learning" portfolio that may include works-in-progress, personal goals, and documents growth and development over time for a more selective audience.  The added value of the "e" in ePortfolio is seen in the features of the platform that support multimedia artifacts, digital storytelling, richer student assessment and program evaluation, and the potential for new insights to be gained through data mining and analytics.

Led by Dr. Helen L. Chen, our research on reflective learning in ePortfolios  across undergraduate and graduate education is conducted in partnership with the Office of the University Registrar and additional colleagues in the offices of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Vice Provost for Graduate Education, and Vice Provost for Student Affairs. From exploring how ePortfolios can support greater student engagement for our undergraduate research interns to supporting the professional development for graduate students, we aim to foster a culture of "Folio Thinking," a reflective practice that situates and guides the effective use of learning portfolios by: 

• Encouraging students to integrate discrete learning experiences
• Enhancing students' self-understanding
• Promoting students' taking responsibility for their own learning
• Supporting students in developing an intellectual identity

Example portfolios from undergraduate research interns

Michelle Grau
This page is an interesting example of how she has used the Mechanical Engineering department learning outcomes as a framework for organizing significant experiences from her undergraduate education

Michelle Warner
Michelle connects her love of sewing to her ME major on this page

Additional ePortfolio Resources and Examples

Personal tools