Friday, October 27, 2017

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Midterm Reflections

In our program, part of our midterm evaluation procedure includes having students complete a self-evaluation form, where they approximate how much their skills have improved during the first half of the semester and what their goals are for the second half. Part of this is to help us as instructors better meet their needs, but another important objective is to get the students thinking about what efforts they have put into their language development and what initiatives they can take on their own. For the sake of consistency and practicality, we have developed in-house forms for this purpose - one for each skill and level. It has a list of common class activities, which students can rank as being helpful or not helpful, and a list of skills that they can select as goals to work on.

This semester (and I think I've done this in the past on occasion as well), I assigned them a written response, allowing them to reflect in a more holistic way - and in writing (since this is a writing class!). I also gave them the evaluation form to fill out, but told them that it was just to serve as a springboard, to give them ideas on what they can say in the course. The writing prompt I gave them - for a total of 10 points - graded on completeness/thoughtfulness of their answers - simply stated the following:

Write a paragraph (200-300 words) answering this question: How has your writing improved in this course so far? What are your goals for the second half of the semester? Give specific details and examples.

I was quite pleased with the results. Here is an example (unedited) reflection that I felt was fairly representative of my students, and demonstrated some good introspection:
Now I think my writing improve a lot because I know some skills of writing; for example, I can support my point by writing some examples, which improves the depth of my essay. Meanwhile, I learn how to cite an article and how to summarize the article. As for grammar, I believe that there are less mistakes of my grammar than before. However, I think I can improve more. In the first half of semester, I just did extra grammar homework and revised my essay by myself. I did not go to the Writing Center or ask help for my American friends. For this reason, I set some goals for the second half of the semester. First, I will reduce my grammar mistakes by revising my essay every time and doing some grammar practice. Second, I should write more details of my support for the essay so that my article is richer. Then, I need to pay attention to the topic because topic is the most important thing when you write. If you deviate from the theme, your grade will be low. Finally, I should practice my conclusion, so I decide to go to the Writing Center and ask help for my American friends.
Overall, I felt that assigning this reflection (done during classtime, held in the computer lab), was much more productive and effective than the simple form. I hope to continue this type of midterm reflection.