The Importance of Quality Feedback for Self-Reflective Learning in Online Master Degree Programs

How do we learn best? Through the years, education has changed a lot. From classrooms filled with multiple age-groups to rote memorization to note-taking during lectures to teaching to the test. Each of these was based upon research and/or societal understanding regarding educational best practices. Each was applied from kindergarten through online master degree programs.

Throughout history one thing has primarily remained the same — a focus on the educator rather than the student. This creates some distinct challenges such as:

  • Difficulty meeting students where they are in large classroom settings
  • Lack of flexibility due to limited resources
  • Inefficiency in the learning process
  • Lack of focus on individual student needs
  • Student complacency and boredom due to taking a less active role in the education process.

Self-reflective learning attempts to address this by putting the focus back on the student. But you might be surprised to find that self-reflective learning in and of itself is in many ways a “learned” skill. How professors interact with students in an online setting has been shown to impact a students ability to self-reflect as we will see in the following study. But first, …

What is self-reflective learning?

Self-reflective learning is a method that puts the responsibility for learning back into the hands of the student. It includes a self-assessment on one’s performance, comparing current knowledge, experience and skills with goals established by the student. The goal on this self-reflection is a deeper understanding of the subject matters, one’s own growth needs. In this regard, self-reflective learning better aligns with real word learning methods, in which we identify our own strengths and weaknesses and work to improve ourselves throughout our lives. Helping students develop a better ability to self-reflect is setting them up for life-long success.

How Does Self-Reflective Learning Affect Online Master Degree Program Outcomes?

In a study published in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration in 2017, titled Determinants of Self-Reflective Learning and its Consequences in Online Master Degree Programs, researchers Yoram Neumann, Edith Neumann and Sheila Lewis, seek to study to self-reflective learning within a RLM (robust learning model). An RBL is a model based upon the idea successful learning required a holistic and comprehensive approach to learning.

The overall goal in the study was to assess the effectiveness of self-reflective learning.

To accomplish this, they broke the study into 2 primary models:

  • to study the relative strengths of various common online learning activities (threaded discussions, case assignments, signature assignments and self-reflective essays) as well as how quality feedback from faculty predicted self-reflective learning at the end of the first course.
  • how a self-reflective learning approach in the 1st course impacted the outcome for the student through the subsequent courses. In other words, does being asked to self-reflect during your first course impact how you obtain, retain and apply knowledge in skills in the courses that follow.

They found that a self-reflective learning approach within the first course on an online master degree program was a strong predictor of success throughout the completion of the series of course.

How Do Interactions for the Professors Impact Self-Learning?

They also found that quality faculty feedback on the preceding threaded discussions, case assignments and signature assignments strongly impacted the level of self-reflection. 

What does this mean?

This outcome demonstrates how important self-reflective learning is in online degree programs, but more importantly how important quality feedback from professors is to self-learning. Our ability to self-reflect is only as strong as the quality of the feedback that we are receiving from our mentors.

It strongly supports that a more comprehensive approach to online learning is necessary to achieve desired outcomes. This study reminds us that we must not forget the importance of teachers in facilitating learning even in an online setting. Both self reflection and quality feedback are necessary for online students to achieve success.

It’s Time to Change the Way We Learn

Are you ready to experience this innovative way of learning first hand? We welcome you to consider Touro University Worldwide. Find the perfect online degree program to align your knowledge and skills with a more rewarding career. Taught by professionals who are practicing in the fields that they teach, each degree offers real-world knowledge and training to prepare you to effectively contribute in your chosen field. The TUW learning model ensures a quality education and effective learning systems. Check out the many online master degree programs that we have to offer.

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