Probationary Faculty are asked to provide reflection in their Individual Development Plans (IDPs). Reflection means stepping back from a teaching and/or learning experience and taking the time to think about what really just happened. Was my teaching method effective? How do I really know? Did the students learn what I intended for them to learn? Through reflection, we can examine what we have learned from a situation and identify the key points for our own growth and development, as well as that of our students.
Some of our Faculty have called this Reflection component of the IDP “fluff.” Reflection is not fluff, it is an analysis. So for all of you researchers, scientists, mathematicians, business faculty, occupational folk, and those of you who just don’t feel you write reflectively, look at the reflective piece as an analysis.
Analytical writing shows relationships between pieces of information or events, such as teaching and learning, or professional development (or service) and the benefit to your department or students. It can be used to assess or evaluate teaching methodologies, learning outcomes, or whatever is important related to your teaching and learning goals, and it then provides an interpretation of what has happened.
Those of you in the sciences are familiar with scientific writing. You gather information, discus the methods and materials in which you gathered that information, write about the results, and then have a discussion about what those results mean.
Those of you in mathematics must express complex ideas and problem solve. You analyze a hypothesis or a model, look at results, and then show examples to support those results. This is applied to mathematics in general, engineering, physics, finance, business, and so many other areas of our day to day lives.
We should all be looking at our teaching methodologies, student feedback, administrative evaluations, and mentor observations as an opportunity to analyze and assess what went well, what did not go as planned, and how we should move forward with what we learned. How will this impact us, our classroom, and/or our students in the future?
So as you are writing in your IDP:
- Provide a summary of the observation/evaluation/professional development/service/event.
Describe what happened, or what was being examined.
- Analyze/interpret the observation/evaluation/ professional development/service/event.
What was important/interesting/useful? What was your opinion of the event?
What insights did you gain?
- Report on the results.
What did you learn? What is the significance and/or potential impact the event has on you, your students, your department, the college? Are there going to be potential changes based on the impact, such as a new activity, approach, opinion, idea, or so forth.
Because of a, b, c, I am now going to x, y, z.
Let your IDP offer insight and be a guide to perfecting your profession.