Using artefact building to engage students in reflective practice

Dr Mary Fitzpatrick

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

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Short Abstract
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge. Encouraging active involvement and reflection through artefact building can provide a rich and meaningful experience. This short session will introduce the idea of artefact building as a means of engaging students through a short presentation and round table discussion.

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Detailed Outline
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge as many do not regard this as important or relevant to their practice in ‘real life’. On our PG cert equivalent*, I work with early academics on developing their teaching philosophy and teaching portfolio. They regard this as a mammoth task and it is one that creates, for many, a mental block. The overall programme itself is very reflective and so this activity is hugely useful in engaging students in reflective practice.

In order to get the students thinking and reflecting on their teaching philosophy, I endeavor to make it as enjoyable and relevant as I can. I take students further out of their comfort zone by inviting them to develop an artefact which illustrates their reflections on their teaching philosophy. I provide students with a variety of crafting materials (colours, newspapers, magazines, ribbon, felt, glue, flipchart, etc) to work with and, to date, the artefacts developed have included 3D models, mosaics, posters and masks. All students then give a short presentation on their artifact which provides them with the opportunity to articulate their teaching philosophy through a novel lens.

This activity works very well in assisting students with the development of their teaching philosophy and their stance on teaching – how it has evolved, how it is present and how they may develop it in the future. Many students include evidence of this exercise in their draft portfolio and it really kick starts their engagement in reflective practice, both in and beyond the classroom, within their roles as academics.

‘This exercise reverberated long after the teaching session. It really allowed me to look at key micro and macro elements of my teaching philosophy and approach but from a novel and unique perspective’ (Student feedback, 2014)

In this short presentation slot, I will give an overview of the activity, the outcomes and the application of same. Participants will be asked to discuss how they might use this activity to illustrate their role in engaging their students wherever they are in a round table with other participants.

* Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (level 9 programme)