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Thursday, June 18 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
CON09.04 - Student conceptions of “learning” as evidenced through short response items in learning journals

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The purpose of this session is to fine tune our understandings around validity as it applies to formative assessment by exploring some of the educational implications derived from a study of student understanding or beliefs about what it means “to learn” (Chiou, Liang & Tsai, 2012). Participants will consider evidence presented in the form of Learning Journal short item responses from an undergraduate biology course in order to evaluate the relationship between what students claim to have learned and the evidence they provide to support those claims. Learning Journals are widely used as formative assessment to encourage students to reflect on their learning (Stephens & Winterbottom, 2010) and offer the potential to capture perspectives that are relatively immediate, since they are written close in time to the events being recorded (Wagner, 1999). In prior research on student conceptions of learning, participant responses from interviews or questionnaires are coded as being unproblematic representations of what students think. This may make sense for investigating learning in the traditional sense of transmission, but many university courses incorporate interactive and flexible learning strategies, requiring a negotiation of meaning between professors and their students. Therefore, we address issues of validity in formative assessment with a novel application of Discursive Psychology (Edwards, 1997) to written text, in order to explore the students’ contributions to the co-construction of what it means “to learn”. The presenters will invite discussion around how recognizing what students use as evidence for their own learning can help us better support learning.

Chiou, G.-L., Liang, J.-C. & Tsai, C.-C. (2012). Undergraduate students’ conceptions of and approaches to learning in biology: A study of their structural models and gender differences. International Journal of Science Education, 34, 167-195. doi:10.1080/09500693.2011.558131

Edwards, D. (1997). Discourse and cognition. London: Sage.

Stephens, K. & Winterbottom, M. (2010). Using a learning log to support students’ learning in biology lessons. Journal of Biological Education, 44, 72-80. doi:10.1080/00219266.2010.9656197

Wagner, Z. (1999). Using student journals for course evaluation. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24(3), 261-272. doi:10.1080/0260293990240301

Thursday June 18, 2015 4:30pm - 5:00pm PDT
Mackenzie Room

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