The 5M Approach: Layers of Reflection

The 5M Approach: Layers of Reflection

Edwin L. Blanton III, Migdalia Garcia
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4108-1.ch010
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In this chapter, the authors present a multi-layered framework that can be used to guide students through intentional reflections. The 5M Approach is a model that suggests practices on how to challenge students to be culturally knowledgeable and responsible. This can be facilitated by having students look inward at self as well as outward at experiences and interactions. The 5M Approach is holistic and can be utilized as a tool in a variety of academic and experiential settings. In this chapter, the authors share how they have facilitated the stages during different student experiences such as study abroad, service-learning, peace and justice education, and more.
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The Chambered Nautilus, a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1858) reads “Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul...let each new temple, nobler than the last,” (Holmes, 1858). This beautiful poem speaks to the richness and complexity of identity and growth. The metaphor of the chambered nautilus is useful to examine both the image and the process for the 5M Approach, a reflection model introduced in this chapter. The mollusk starts in a tiny chamber. As it develops, the mollusk outgrows its home and must create a new abode that accommodates its new size and needs. The cephalopod builds in a circular fashion. It closes off the old chambers that it has inhabited as it matures. The mollusk continues to forge its circular path to literally fit its needs. This living creature adapts and changes for itself and to its environment.

The growth of the mollusk is a perfect metaphor that speaks to growth and transformation. Holmes’ (1858) poem suggests one must abandon old narrow worldviews and move to a wider, more inclusive space--indeed a lifetime of work. The circular shape is representative of the process that lessons are best learned when they are repeated and connected. This metaphor along with a pressing need to reflect, and the rise of experiential education, sparked the layered 5M Approach.


Literature Review

In recent decades, it has become common for institutions of higher education to take on the role of preparing their students to be responsible, informed, educated “global citizens”. In fact, a recent version of The American Freshman examined the skills and abilities needed to navigate in the 21st century. Some of the abilities and skills that institutions of higher education should expect students to learn include: tolerance of people with different beliefs, an ability to discuss controversial issues and an openness to listen and learn from persons who are different from them. In the table below, the 2015 results are shown alongside 2016. Compared to women, men report higher levels of ability to discuss and negotiate controversial issues, and openness to having their own views challenged (differences of 7.2 and 4.0 percentage points, respectively). These gender differences were similarly large in 2015. While women report higher levels of other (perhaps less confrontational) behaviors associated with pluralistic orientation, the gender differences for these measures are relatively small.

Table 1.
Pluralistic Orientation by Sex
Ability to see the world from someone else’s perspective7665.97.-
Tolerance of others with different beliefs81.379.61.781.479.02.4
Openness to having my own views challenged61.865.9-
Ability to discuss and negotiate controversial issues67.375.1-7.867.975.1-7.2
Ability to work cooperatively with diverse people86.884.52.387.884.63.2

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Competency: The ability of an individual to have an understanding of and appreciation for other cultures as well as subcultures within their own.

Identity: Components that make up how an individual experiences the world. This includes: sex, gender, race, nationality, sexuality, ability, body type, age and more.

Experiential Education: Learning that involves an activity so that it is “hands-on”. This can be thought of as a study abroad experience, internship, service-learning, and more.

Reflection: The process of looking back on experiences and internally processing thoughts, feelings and reactions to the experience.

Preflection: The process of looking forward to experiences in internally processing thoughts, feelings and reactions to what the experience will bring.

Study Abroad: The act of a student studying in a country other than their native country for a short period of time. This can range from a week to a semester to an academic year.

Service-Learning: The ability for students to apply their classroom knowledge to the larger community through service. Both the students learn from the experience and the community benefits by having additional labor.

Privilege: A special advantage that is granted only to a particular group or individual.

Peace Education: The study of peace and how we can move towards a more peaceful world.

Global Citizenship: The idea that people have a civic responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of all members of the planet.

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