Finding Themes Across Student Reflections

With students’ reading reflections, one of the things I am trying to do this year is synthesize and report back to them the issues and questions students I see that they are coming into contact with.

As themes emerge, it will be there responsibility to make connections to one or more themes in writing their reflections:

So far, I am practicing doing this to see how long it takes me, and hone my skills at discerning themes. With just a sample of 7 students reflections in, here’s what I’ve found. What do you think?

What is the role of everyday thinking and experience in science learning?

 “I think it really helps students to learn by bringing in real world examples and have them relate it to what they are learning in the classroom.”

 “How important it is to consider real-life examples that are as similar to the experiment as possible”

 “They also used real life situations such as ropes near a swimming pool to compare their reasoning’s with each other…These were a great way to see how the students respond and think in scientific form and use their experiences to come to an answer to this question.”

 “Students do draw on their prior knowledge in order to further explain their thinking.”

 What similarities and differences exist in how young learners, adult learners, and experts  think?

 “The amazing thing was that in Mary Bell’s article, the students made very similar predictions. I really thought it was amazing that kids in such young grades were thinking on the same lines as a college class, and according to Mary Bell, along the same lines as experts”

 “I think it’s safe to say that no matter what age you are the thinking process in coming up with answers to problems such as this are the same.”

 “Something else I noticed was that these 5th and 6th grade students went even more in depth about their reasoning then us college students.”

 What role does language and vocabulary play in science learning?

 “I love the interaction among students and the way they attempted to use technical terms such as force and gravity in sixth grade.”

 “The students struggled to articulate their ideas because of a lack of vocabulary, but were still able to work through it together.”


What role does discussion play in science learning? How does teacher best facilitate this so that students are independent but still making progress?

 “She asked a question and let the students discuss the topic without much guidance. She never tried to guide them to the correct answer, she let them build off each others ideas and come to the conclusion on their own.”

 “I can see that all of the disagreeing and the teacher sitting back and letting the students discuss was better for them then just asking the question and telling the answer without much discussion. The way the students facilitated their own learning was very interesting to read about.

 “The most important part in my opinion was the students working together to not only prove but disprove several of the solutions to the question.”


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