GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 244-7
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


ANGSTMANN, Julia, Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, Butler University, 4600 Sunset Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46201, WILLIAMSON, Francesca, Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, 705 Riley Hospital Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46202, FORE, Grant, STEM Education Innovation and Research Institute, IUPUI, 755 W. Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202 and SORGE, Brandon, Department of Technology Leadership and Communication, Purdue School of Engineering at IUPUI, 799 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

Reflection activities, when thoughtfully implemented, guide students in the examination of their learning experiences to make connections between constructed knowledge, skills, societal applications, and personal values to foster civic action. Despite the documented benefits of reflection in the classroom, it is still not commonly or effectively used in science curricula. This may due to perceptions of scientific objectivity that falsely separate scientific questions from personal and social values or the use of poorly-designed, superficial reflection activities instead of critical reflection, which integrates student values with guided reflections on the experience of learning in order to restructure knowledge for further action.

In this study, the instructor of an introductory non-majors science course, participated in a faculty-staff learning community to learn about and incorporate a farm-situated, place-based experiential learning project with critical reflection. Photovoice and the SHOWED approach to critical reflection were used for students to explore their own visual interests through photography and determine an ecological phenomenon in the photo. The final product of the project was a paper and presentation comparing and contrasting the phenomenon in local, diversified and global, industrial food production systems. Students then critically reflected on their learning experience using the Ash & Clayton’s DEAL model.

Pre- to post-course, students showed statistically significant increases in sustainability meanings subscribed to the campus farm (t(12)=-2.349, p=0.037, d = 0.652), place attachment to the campus farm (t(12)=-3.039, p=0.010, d = 0.843), and civic mindedness (t(12)=-2.378, p=0.035, d = 0.659). The instructor reported that students were more observant during farm tours, every student chose different ecological topics based upon their photovoice reflection, and they were more invested in researching self-developed topics tied to their personal interests. Topic diversity made presentations more interesting, impactful for students, and improved grading enjoyment. Future studies should survey student perceptions of critical reflection in science courses.