Course: Collaborative Practices in Inclusive Schools (EEX 6786)
This assignment is an updated variation of traditional, written reflections that have been used in the past to engage students in an ongoing synthesis of course content. Each week, students are presented a topic in which they have learned about in their course and asked to reflect on the topic to demonstrate their understanding and opinions about the information. In this iteration, students are asked to audio record these reflections rather than type them out as traditionally required. Students then submit an audio file (2-3 mins. max) that responds to the prompt, as well as, a written critique of their audio including what they noticed about their communication style and ability to be concise and effective in their messaging.
Outcomes for this assignment are twofold:
Students will 1) display understanding of content through their own words as supported by evidence and 2) demonstrate an ability to convey their thoughts and opinions on a variety of course-related topics in a concise, evidence-based, and professional manner.
By critiquing their own audio responses, students are able to begin to understand and recognize their own communication style and mannerisms. This supports building habits of communication that will enhance their growth from preservice to inservice professionals. Additionally, this allows for students to practice conveying messages verbally that relate to their chosen professional field
Assignment Setup (Instructor)
Students are presented a prompt related to the weekly content being covered in this course. They are asked to answer the prompt as if another professional had asked them the question(s). For example, “Image the Principal of your internship school approached you and asked you the following question, ‘What types of supports do you need when working with children who have social, emotional, or behavioral concerns? What intervention(s) have you tried?'” In 2-3 minutes, students record themselves answering the given prompt. Student upload their audio file along with a typed critique. The critique relates to the student perception of effective communication, ability to be concise and effective in messaging, noticing any habits (such as ‘um’), and identification of what would have been addressed differently and why.
Students will independently reflect on the question prompts for weeks in which reflections are due. Students will take into consideration information they’ve learned from class, textbook readings, and videos, as well as, experiences in their internship site. After coming up with a response to the question prompts, students will create an audio recording of a sharing of his/her thoughts.
This assignment is an exercise 2 things: 1) a display of your understanding of content through your own words and supported by evidence and 2) your ability to convey your thoughts on a variety of topics in a concise, evidence-based, and professional manner. Imagine you are asked the questions by a school colleague, school principal, or parent. Think about your demeanor, communication style, and presentation to convey a professional message. Recordings should be between 2-3 minutes in length; no more, no less. Upload your audio link to the appropriate section in Canvas.
Along with your audio response to the questions, you will submit a short (1 paragraph) critique about the question itself and your response. If you really were to have been approached by a colleague, principal, or family member with the question, what would you want to know more about? What did you question about yourself or your knowledge of the topic. What do you need to do as a professional to be sure you feel equipped to answer questions about those topics? Enter your written critique in the Canvas submission text box.
Audio reflections are graded with full points so long as the following have been met: 1) audio file addresses all aspects of prompt 2) audio file is no more than 2-3 minutes in length 3) critique is included with audio file.
As a result of the nature of this assignment in that it is a reflection of opinion and critique of one’s own communication style and habits, it is graded as full points so long as the above criteria are met. Points are only deducted if an aspect of the assignment is missing. Reflections are given comments by the instructor to encourage further thinking on a topic and/or to reinforce professional communication habits.
Tips and Suggestions for Instructors
Suggestions for instructors repurposing this activity would be to keep them shorter, easier to digest, and establishing a clear expectation for the outcome of using audio files vs. a traditional written format. It helps if these assignments are low stakes (point value or complete/incomplete). It is important to allow time for students to feel more comfortable with this type of format. Many students begin by having some hesitation and discomfort with recording their voices.
Over the course of the semester, I have witnessed students get increasingly confident in their verbal communication, lessen the habits they noticed about themselves, and reported enjoying the opportunity to work on their content knowledge while also improving their professional demeanors in this environment. Helping them feel at ease by allowing for mistakes and being able to identify their own communication habits is beneficial in order to build capacity for increased professional communication behaviors in our students.
Keywords: reflection, audio reflection, communication, verbal communication, critique, self-assessment