Rose-Hulman Workshop on “Assessing Reflection”

By: Ella Ingram, PhD
CPREE Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology co-PI

Rose-Hulman’s CPREE learning community welcomed Dr. Rachel McCord of University of Tennessee – Knoxville for a day-long workshop focused on assessing reflection (held on July 21, 2015). The day began with a rousing and sometimes heated consideration of three papers (Moon, 2006; Kember et al., 2008; Stewart & Richardson, 2000), centering on the relative importance and roles of assessment and grading. Many questions were identified: What do educators need to know to assess reflection (their own KSAs–knowledge, skills, and abilities)? How does one separate reflection from content in submitted work? What is the purpose of the reflection experience in this particular course? How do we walk students through the reflection process? How do we influence students’ motivation to participate in reflection? What prompts can we use to encourage reflection in conversation with students? Our answers to these questions reveal the complexity of this topic and illustrate the variability found in the literature.

Dr. McCord encouraged the workshop participants to combine the reflection model of experience-meaning making-future action with a backward design approach for assessment planning (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). Three questions guide the planning: (1) what is the purpose of reflection? (develop objectives), (2) What constitutes good or poor? (identifying evidence), and (3) What learning engagements will yield this evidence? (activity development). By working through these questions, the workshop participants clarified their mechanisms for assessing the reflection activities they plan for the next school year.

Twenty participants attended, a great number given short notice and summer schedules. Educators represented eight different academic departments and three support offices (including the RHIT president Dr. Jim Conwell). The mix of perspectives kept the discussion lively, and enriched the understanding of all.


Moon, J. (2006). Learning Journals: A Handbook for Reflective Practice and Professional Development. New York: Routledge.

Kember, D., McKay, J., Sinclair, K., & Wong, F. K. Y. (2008). A four-category scheme for coding and assessing the level of reflection in written work. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(4): 369-379.

Stewart, S. & Richardson, B. (2000). Reflection and its place in the curriculum on an undergraduate course: should it be assessed? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 25(4): 369-380.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

About the author. Ella Ingram, PhD, is a CPREE co-PI at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT). At RHIT, she is an Associate Professor of Biology & Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education.