Remember that article
in the March issue describing how a sociologist used reflective writing to improve his teaching?
Here's another short testimony to add to that one. Matthew Liberatore explains in Chemical Engineering Education
that a laboratory notebook holds an invaluable collection of procedures, measurements, calculations, and ideas on work undertaken in the lab. He thinks classrooms are a lot like labs and that teachers would benefit from a teaching laboratory notebook. Isn't this what a teacher's lectures are? Liberatore doesn't think so. “[Lecture] notes are generally static and commonly show their age (wrinkled edges, yellowing paper, coffee stains, etc.).” (p. 271) He recommends something else.
“I feel my courses have improved every semester by implementing a simple reflective exercise immediately after each class that I lead (even before checking messages).” He writes for one to two minutes about what happened in class. Here's a list of the kinds of things he might write about:
- What worked and what could be improved
- How long it took to cover each content segment
- Questions the students asked, especially those he stumbled a bit to answer
- General energy level of the class and potential reasons for it
- Ideas for adding or subtracting content
- Ideas for starting the next class session
- Quiz or exam problem ideas
Liberatore agrees with last month's author: this record facilitates class preparation the next semester tremendously. He offers this summary: “The teaching ‘lab notebook' documents and organizes ideas, criticisms, and questions immediately following a classroom ‘experiment,' and has led to improved organization and student learning of course concepts in the author's experience.” (p. 271)
Liberatore, M. (2012). Two minutes of reflection improves teaching. Chemical Engineering Education, 46