Reflective Journals Drive Centennial College’s 3Es

By Sandy Di Felice

Assessing critical thinking takes more than chasing a rubric. Students are often so focused on meeting the requirements for the mark that they miss the opportunity to own their learning. Suggest that there is no right or wrong answer and it often creates confusion and fear.  

To advance Centennial College’s 3Es of enrolment, education and employability (Academic Plan, 2021-2025), we have a role in offering assessments that create space for students to demonstrate in the classroom, the types of skills required in the workplace. 

What if we allow students to own their learning and account for it in an assessment that guides, encourages and course corrects outside of a traditional construct? 

I was first introduced to reflective journals in an OntarioLearn administered Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (TLHE) course. As a mature student, I embraced the opportunity to provide a lens to the weekly lesson that brought all of me into the classroom. It was liberating to break free of the traditional parroting to achieve 10/10.  

Reflective journals require more from both educator and student. Journals move beyond show me what you learned this week into a focused exploration. Reflective journals can be observations, questions, speculation, self-awareness, theory, idea integration and critique. 

Here’s a “Top 10” for why I’m opting for more reflective journaling: 

  1. Framing the journal topic allows students to relate, consider and apply themes, trends and results.
  2. Guiding the length of the journal supports concise thinking and keeps it doable for full-time and part-time students.   
  3. Recalling content allows for linking of concepts from week to week. 
  4. Submitting in alternate formats respects UDL and students.   
  5. Boosting critical thinking skills expands meta-cognition and preparation for other class (and workplace) requirements. 
  6. Marking engages the instructor to move beyond rubrics to recognize the whole student in the assessment. 
  7. Building trust in insights is cyclical and progressive.  
  8. Inspiring confidence is core to curriculum outcomes. 
  9. Permitting a less traditional construct activates entrepreneurial skills.
  10. Engaging is fun and rewarding. 

By taking student assessment further up in Bloom’s taxonomy, we’re focusing on the 3Es. We mirror the behaviours that are reflective of ever evolving workplaces. Creating success for students within and beyond the classroom. 

About Sandy Di Felice

Sandy is a part-time professor in the Marketing and Entrepreneurship program at The Business School at Centennial College in Toronto, Ontario.