The University of North Texas is helping students make meaning from their college experiences by reflecting in the ePortfolio. Reflection is a meta-cognitive skill found to have critical utility in higher education context based on learning outcomes positively associated with the practice (Eyler, 2002). John Dewey (1910) defined reflection as an “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tend.” Donald Schon later expanded Dewey’s conceptualization by emphasizing “reflection in action” or “learning by doing” which inspired a way of educational research implementing reflection (Carol, 2002).
If students are participating in activities without any awareness of the experience's value (other than it was mandated or part of a course) then the potential intrinsic value can be lost. College is a traditionally transformative time in a student’s life where autonomy is gained and decisions about the future lie predominately within students’ own responsibility. Unfortunately, there may be a missed learning and application opportunity if a student is unable to reflect on a project, activity, or volunteer experience. Research shows that students are unlikely to reflect on their educational experiences without being prompted (Eyler, 2002) or without clear guidelines, structure, and regular opportunities (Hatcher, Bringle, & Muthia, 2004). Career Connect fosters reflection on their experiences by integrating reflection questions in the ePortfolio.
These reflections encourage students to collect their experiences in an electronic platform and reflect on the impact of these experience in their lives, for now and in the future. Reflection encourages deeper learning that students can refer to throughout their college years and beyond.
The goal is to engage students in reflection across their time at UNT and to make their collegiate career intentional and meaningful. Students should have purpose when they enter the workforce, feeling equipped academically and personally, and have confidence in their skills. Additionally, this initiative involves data collection on the reflective process to enhance the usefulness of university educations for educators and students alike.