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#55 - Scaffolded reflective essay in MyPortfolio

  1. Students find reflection difficult if they are just given a blank slate.

  2. This is especially the case when an assignment requires a different approach to what they are used to (including for first years when they write their first academic essays).

  3. We can provide the students with a template that guides and scaffolds their essay writing.
Solution overview

Students may find it difficult to combine more conventional academic writing (for example, critically evaluating sources) with reflective writing (for example, about the development of their own application of academic ideas). To help them with challenges like this, you can create an essay template as a page with a series of sections (include prompts and advice for each section, to help them to write it). Create this as a template page. Use an obvious naming convention so that the students can easily find the correct template page (for example use the module code, as in: ARCH023-reflective-essay). You will find that this nudges the students to be more personal, more creative, and more comprehensive. You can create this as a single page, or as a collection of pages (in MyPortfolio we can create a Collection, which has navigation menus to move between the pages).

  1. You create the template pages within your own MyPortfolio first.
  2. If using a collection, you will need to create the template collection within your own MyPortfolio pages to begin with.
    1. If you are creating standalone pages, not within a collection, create them providing just the right amount of structure to guide the students in completing the pages as you want them to, but leaving enough flexibility for them to be creative and individual.
    2. Create the collection, if needed and add the pages to that.
  3. You could create a Group in MyPortfolio, including all of the students you want to give the template collection to.
  4. When editing the collection/page, select the Share option, and share it with the group you created in step 3.
  5. Create a Secret Url, and give that url to your students. They can use it to go to your template collection/page and make their own copy of it