New D2L Reflection Modules Provide Unique Reflection Opportunities for Service Learning Students and Faculty
In an effort to aid students in unpacking and understanding their Service Learning experiences, the Service Learning Program offers students many opportunities to engage in reflection individually and in groups. Biweekly reflection questions and frequent check-ins from Student coordinators, along with large group and in-class reflections, push students to think deeply about the interactions they have had at their service learning sites. Not meant to replace these traditional reflection methods, a new concept of reflection emerged in the Fall of 2012, as online, D2L based reflection modules were introduced to faculty and students. These new reflection modules offer yet another way for students to take a deeper look at their service in the context of their classes.
The D2L modules offer professors a standardized set of assignments and activities through the same online system that is already used in classes. With the choice of pre-service, mid-service, and post-service reflections, professors are able to tailor the modules to their specific courses. Each module has several options for assignments, ranging from papers to blogs. The assignments come with instructions and an easy to follow grading rubric that makes it even simpler for professors to build reflection directly into their Service Learning courses.
A pool of faculty from a variety of departments was selected to participate in the year-long trial run of this new reflection system. They were asked to implement the modules within their Service Learning classes and, at the end of the year, report back with their feedback. If these modules are well received through this trial, the will be made available to all professors of Service Learning courses. Dr. Heather Hlavka used the D2L modules in her Methods of Criminological Research class and saw the modules as an enhancement to her students’ reflection. She noted, “The questions helped students focus, but also to choose to write about the types of issues that most affected them. They helped me, as the instructor, be more organized and prepared, which I believe helped students be more organized as well.” After using the modules throughout the year, Dr. Hlavka would continue to use them in future Service Learning courses.
Every day, as service learners return to campus from their sites in the Milwaukee community, they return one step closer to the Jesuit mission of being men and women for others. Every conversation with a person living in poverty, meal served at a shelter, or completed homework assignment with a child at an after school program pushes students to better understand the material they learn in classes, while they help to meet the needs of those facing the injustices of the world head-on. These connections aren’t always easy to uncover alone, but through meaningful reflection, students can dig deeper into their experiences and better understand the impact that is being made in their lives.