I am teaching this summer and it is especially exciting as I am piloting the labs I wrote this spring. We are using these labs exclusively and I am collecting student feedback for each lab to help in the editing, refining, and revision process. How fun to read Shelly Belleau's blog (http://www.jce.divched.org/
1. Are my students learning anything?
2. Are my students meeting the goals set for each lab?
3. Are these labs and activities a good length?
The students are reflecting at the end of each lab on what they learned, their favorite part, and their least favorite part. Initially I wanted them to reflect to help me. To see if their comments about what they learned were related to the learning goals set for the lab. I also wanted feedback concerning formatting issues (was there enough space to write, should this section start on a new page, etc). I thought these would help me greatly when it came time to edit in the fall. However, I remember sitting in a session at a summer chemistry conference and the speaker was talking about student reflection. He had done some research with his students and thought perhaps students learn more from reflection alone. Perhaps the reflection is helping not only me, but my students as well?
The other day as I was driving and thinking about these labs it occurred to me that my students may be learning more from these labs for no other reason other than this self reflection. There are so many variables going on here! My students are not the only ones doing experiments this summer! One variable that has not changed (much) are my assessments. Perhaps looking at how students perform on those will help determine if these labs are helping students learn more, less, or about the same. At the end of the summer I am hoping to learn whether or not these activities are worth pursuing for my student's sake. Are they really helping them learn, or is it all in my head?