Student Reflections and Self-Assessments in Vocational Training Supported by a Mobile Learning Hub

Student Reflections and Self-Assessments in Vocational Training Supported by a Mobile Learning Hub

Lisbeth Amhag (Malmo University, Malmö, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2020010101

Abstract

The aim of this study is to contribute knowledge about what characterizes students' capabilities to reflect on and self-assess their professional development during four school based vocational training courses in distance higher education. What abilities and challenges appear in their written reflections and self-assessments with critical incidents about a situation, incident, or issue in their log journals, as well as in their discussions online. face-to-face (F2F), supported by a mobile learning hub (MLH) with both mobile and blended activities? Theoretically, the study is based on five major levels of reflection: reporting, responding, relating, reasoning and reconstructing. The results from a group of students' representative excerpts demonstrates the importance of letting student teachers have agency and mediate their subjective experiences during practical vocational training in progression, supported by mobile and blended tools, to understand and make sense of experience in relation to self, others, and contextual conditions for personal and professional learning.
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1. Introduction

The goal of academic and professional reflection, as well as of self-assessment, is to develop students’ learning, enabling them to move between theory and practice and to achieve the highest level of reflection. In the context of higher education professions, frequently, reflection and self-assessment are used in both theoretical and practical courses (McIntosh, 2010). Reflection and self-assessment represent a kind of ‘higher order thinking’ to promote critical and creative ‘meta-reflexivity’ (Archer, 2010; Dickhut, 2003; Hatton & Smith, 1995; Shaheen, 2010). Inquiry and dialogic argumentation are key dimensions in critical thinking and have been identified as pathways to argumentative competence (Kuhn, 2016). Reflection and self-assessment allow students to progress to argumentative competence and to act and think critically and professionally. Practical implementations of reflection and self-assessment include, in this study, written and online oral reflections with critical incidents about a situation, incident, or issue, which is essentially a procedure for gathering certain important facts concerning a clear situation (Flanagan, 1954). It is also important to make connections with theoretical readings and practical vocational training as a part of the teacher educational agenda, which should be modified and discussed to learn more about the specific situation, incident, or issue.

However, the common use of the concepts reflection and self-assessment is problematic, with little or no agreement on the meaning of these concepts among teachers or students. Often, it is taken for granted that students know how to think critically and write reflectively on their own. Moreover, the concepts are often unclear and used loosely to embrace a wide range of conceptions and strategies, because of a lack of teacher training in reflection and self-assessment methods (Bain, Ballantyne, Mills & Lester, 2002; Hatton & Smith, 1995; Ryan, 2013). Boud (1999) emphasized the importance of teaching students to act and think professionally, which involves the use of reflection and reflective practice as an informal learning-to-learn tool, as well as the use of self-assessment as a formal evaluation activity. The context of teaching and learning, both mobile and blended at distance, should enable students to translate knowledge from theory to educational and professional practice. According to Bain et al. (2002) students need to be able to connect vocational practise to theoretical knowledge in course literature, supported with a variety of educational and mobile tools, with sufficient time to use them and critically review and discuss the content to achieve educational goals. New media forms can easily be integrated into higher distance education, made possible by enhanced computer technologies, faster internet transmission, and different mobile devices (e.g. Amhag, 2016; 2017; Marin, Jääskelä, Häkkinen, Juntunen, Rasku-Puttonen & Vesisenaho, 2016).

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