Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

A reflective practice paradigm: A STEM-centric approach (#161)

Karen Young 1 , Rachael Hains-Wesson 1
  1. Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

The literature points to the inherit value of reflection to make sense of experiences for deep integrated learning. We propose that a whole-of-course scaffolded approach to reflective practice, through a Work integrated learning (WIL) framework, wherein critical thinking skills are purposely geared for re-shaping knowledge, will improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students’ employability. This study examines the researchers’ perceptions of creating and implementing a faculty-wide reflective practice paradigm that used a collaborative “self-report” method. Data was collected from the researchers’ reflective notes, face to face meetings, pertinent teaching and learning literature and from peers. The findings indicated that a STEM-specific suite of resources was highly beneficial for educators (in our faculty) to adopt a step-change model. While the recommendations in this study are intended to advance the field of reflective practice for STEM, the findings are relevant to any reflective practice curricula steeped within a WIL framework. This study aims to ensure that the educators teaching reflective practice have layered and various means for improving reflective practices relevant to current and future complex working worlds.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This paper addresses the following sub theme; educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals. At Deakin University, professional accreditation in some of our STEM courses, as well as the Science Threshold Learning Outcomes, and the Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes which all aim to enhance student employability, highlight in their frameworks a sub-text that courses need to produce adaptable graduates who are equipped with the right mix of knowledge and skills to be responsive professionals. This is a complex task given that the workplace climate in STEM doesn’t always align with clear vocational pathways, as they might in nursing or teaching for example. In STEM we desire to educate beyond discipline content and traditional instructional modes (chalk and talk) to enable students to adapt to the unknown jobs and skills of the future - reflective practice is seen as the pedagogical thrust for enabling the enhancement of continually learning, thus enhancing employability.