Reflection: Education and Reflective Practice sample essay

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The aim of this assignment is to give a reflective account on group presentation and the peer assessment process as well as the development of a personal action plan. It would involve using ‘The What? Model of Structured Reflection’ (Driscoll 2007) to analyse the experience of using a group designed assessment tool to assess my peers and the experience of being peer assessed. Additionally, experience of completing a group presentation would be reflected upon. A personal action plan which identifies areas for personal development and the designed assessment tool is attached as appendix 1 and 2 respectively.

Reflection entails reviewing experience from practice so that it may be described, analysed, evaluated and consequently used to inform and change future practice in a positive way (Bulman and Schutz 2013, p6). Reflection could be (Oelofsen 2012, p4) in real time (reflection in action) or retrospectively (reflection on action). Several authors (Jay and Johnson 2002; Taylor 2006) have suggested the use of frameworks to guide students undertaking reflective writing. However, John (cited in Bulman and Schutz, 2013, p118) cautions that reflective frameworks are guides rather than a rigid prescriptive format. Jasper (2006) also warns that frameworks come with the author’s perspective and values base and leads reflectors in a specific direction. It is therefore imperative to be critical of the model of choice and adjust the framework to suit ones purposes so that it can be used effectively.

Numerous frameworks for facilitating reflection are utilised in nursing (Doel and Shardlow 2009, p42) such as Gibb’s Reflective Cycle (1988) and John’s Model of Structured Reflection (1995). Following critical analysis, ‘The What? Model of Structured Reflection (Driscoll 2007) consisting of three simple questions; What?, So what? and Now what?, each with sub questions was chosen. The rationale for this choice is that this framework is comparatively simple (Howatson-Jones 2010), effective and very apt for novice practitioners but can equally be used at different levels (Jasper 2003, p99). Moreover, it can be used logically with any type of situation by using the cue questions which gives a deeper and meaningful reflective process hereby leading to the formulation of an action plan for the future. Furthermore, as opposed to Gibbs and John’s framework, it enables reflective activity to lead to action being taken rather than being proposed or tentative.

The purpose of returning to this situation is to learn from the experience of using a devised assessment tool to assess my peers. Haven being divided into a group of four students based on our learning styles, each group was expected to design an assessment tool and carry out a presentation which is to be peer assessed. The group presentation involved presenting on one of the 3 future roles of a nurse: educator, manager or professional. Devising our assessment tool was very challenging as each member of the group brainstormed, shared views, and prioritised. Communication was done via emails, phone calls and meetings as agreed by all members. Effective team working was evident among all members. The assessment tool was amended based on feedback received from the lecturer.

On the presentation day, majority of the students including myself were anxious as there was a misunderstanding of the date of presentation so were not prepared. Although, this affected the quality of our presentation as it was prepared under 20 minutes. However, students’ still proved that they could be innovative even under duress. The peer assessment process involved an individual assessment of each group’s presentation using our assessment tool and calculating the average to give the final grade. During this process, I realized how difficult it was assessing others and being assessed without being biased. It was particularly difficult to measure the criteria as our assessment tool was not explicit making it impossible to justify the marks awarded. It had too many separate components with inappropriate weighting which made it arduous and complicated in the averaging task. Although, the assessment tool appeared simple as it involved ticking boxes. However, it was difficult to decide which boxes to tick because students demonstrated majority of the criteria but at different levels and this led to being over marked. It would have been more realistic to award marks to each criterion rather than ticking boxes.

Hargreaves (2007) as well as Quinn and Hughes (2007, p270) propose that assessment tool should be both valid (assess what it claims to assess) and reliable (perform in a consistent and stable manner). It is of the opinion now following the assessment that our assessment tool cannot be considered valid and reliable for the following reasons. Learning outcome was not part of the criteria so it was impossible to make a judgement about the quality of the students’ presentation and thus could not be penalized. Hinchliff (1999) suggests that learning outcomes should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed (SMART). It should include an indication of the evidence required to demonstrate that learning has been achieved (Dix and Hughes, 2004), but Welsh and Swann (2002) caution that too many may create unreasonable expectations. Moreover, the ambiguity of the tool and individuals’ subjectivity in terms of attitudes, beliefs and values (the ‘halo’ effect) resulted in perceived bias which affected the reliability. Bias however, remains an issue to overcome and as such I felt the feedback received from my peers would not be accurate.

Although the peer assessment process made us engage fully in the presentation and learn from the strengths and weaknesses of our peers, there is a need to develop the necessary skills and judgements to effectively manage peer assessments and this involves knowledge and experience (Oelofsen 2012, Somerville and Keeling, 2004). Furthermore, there is a need to be fully prepared and equipped, develop criteria that match the identified learning outcome, consider the issue of fairness particularly with disabled students and clearly communicate assessment criteria . The above reasons can be considered as areas for future development, an in depth analysis of this can be seen in the attached action plan (appendix 1). This process of reflection on action has proved successful as it brought about learning. Even though critics like Rolfe (2003) and Markham (2002) criticised reflective practice for lack of definition and unproven benefit. Taylor (2010) however argues that it is nevertheless worth the effort to bring about deeper insights and changes in practice and education.

In conclusion, this essay has demonstrated an understanding of the peer assessment process by assessing the worth of our assessment tool on other students and the experience of being assessed by peers. Using a framework of choice, my experience was analysed and areas for further development identified and attached as appendix 1. Overall, this reflection has brought about deeper insights which identified strengths and weaknesses that would consequently enhance my professional development and result in changes in the future should the situation arise again.