Write your own reference: 29th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference

Miao Li, Euan Lindsay

Research output: Other contributionResearch


Quality self-reflections form the core of quality teaching (Lorson, Goodway, & Hovatter, 2007). Traditionally designed reflection activities in engineering classrooms do not sufficiently prompt thoughtful self-awareness or foster future learning (Rodríguez-Triana et al., 2017). Students only describe their learning activities and fail to connect cognition of their learning behaviour with expectedprofessional growth. Lorson et al. (2007) voiced that students’ self-reflection needs to be directed and structured to be meaningful.PURPOSEThis assessment pair is intended to direct the students’ reflections towards how they want to be perceived by the stakeholders of their work, while requiring them to consider both the present and future versions of themselves and others to achieve these goals.APPROACH At the start of a semester-long project, students are asked to imagine themselves as the clients of (successful) projects at the end of the semester and write the reference letter they wish to receive at the end of the project. At the end of the semester, students revisit this reference letter and reflect on whether this reference letter is how their clients actually now perceive them as a result of their conduct and achievements in the project. In this way, students self-identify tangible competency gaps for their ongoing professional development.RESULTS The reference letters produced by the students are largely of sufficient quality that they could be endorsed by their clients. Students are able to adopt the perspectives of their future clients, and identify the clients’ future expectations of themselves and consequently raise their self-expectations in planning for their semester-long projects.CONCLUSIONS By using a reference letter and a corresponding reflection, the assessment pair replaces conventional reflection models in engineering classrooms. Requiring students to consider perspectives other than their own, at points in time other than today, causes students to set aspirational goals that anchor in work placement values and criteria and that they take full ownership of, to anticipate their learning needs, and improves the quality of their reflections on their progress towards their goals.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Place of PublicationHamilton, New Zealand
PublisherUniversity of Waikato
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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