The Freshman Reflection Piece and Sophomore Reflection Piece

Description of the Freshman Reflection Piece and Related Activities

University Studies 101 (UNIV 101) instructors initiate the development of an ePortfolio in the campus assessment software during the first semester of the freshman year. The ePortfolio’s first entry is the Freshman Reflection Piece.  Because the FRP aligns directly with the student learning outcomes and is used for a rubric-based assessment of these, it provides a baseline for interpreting the results of the Sophomore Reflection Piece (SRP). The FRP and SRP are the direct student learning assessment of SAM.

Throughout their first semester on campus, first-time-freshmen will discuss, research, and reflect on the many facets of the journey through their degree programs to their career.  The FRP is completed in sections that coordinate with class lessons in UNIV 101.  The UNIV 101 instructors introduce topics to students during the semester and these lessons are followed by reflective writing assignments that make up parts of the FRP.  These sections are graded as individual assignments but submitted as parts of the whole FRP.  On submission of the last section, the FRP is complete and submitted into the campus assessment software for the SAM assessment committee to review and assess.

Also known in class as the career paper, the FRP helps student set academic and career goals and helps them connect those goals to the actions needed to accomplish those goals.  Each section in the FRP asks students to answer a set of questions requiring research and reflection on one or more aspects of the journey through the degree to their career.  Each section of the FRP is aligned to one of the SAM student learning outcomes and it is noted in the writing template which outcome is related to the questions.

Section 1: Reflection

Before completing the first section, titled “Reflection,” the students complete the Focus2Career program in cooperation with the Career Services office.  Section 1 is aligned with SAM SLO 1.  The Focus2Career program guides students through a series of personal assessments asking them to think and answer questions about various career topics such as interests, values, personal strengths, preferred job tasks.  After completing all of the assessments, students’ results will describe how their interests, values, strengths, and preferences relate to selected career fields.  Students are asked to carefully consider these career matches and reflect and write about them in the reflection section.  Specifically, students are asked to reflect on their personal strengths in relation to their career, potential challenges to achieving their desired career, and why they think their chosen career is a good fit for them.

Section 2: Requirements of the Degree Program

In section 2 of the FRP, aligned with SAM SLO 2, students perform in-depth analysis of their degree program in relation to their chosen career. Students are required to describe their major, concentration (if applicable), and any specific requirements for their career such as certifications or licenses.  They also must examine the possibility of a graduate education if it is required for their career.  A discussion of the general education portion of the degree program is included in this writing as well as the discussion of a possible minor.  Students are also required to discuss which courses they feel will be most beneficial to them in their career as well as courses they feel will be challenging to them.  Reflection on how to overcome these challenges is essential to the reflective writing of this section.  Information on the degree programs, minors, and other essential information in included in lessons in the UNIV 101 class along with guest speakers from the academic programs.  Each UNIV 101 section is enrolled by major, making academic discussions and degree information pertinent to all students in the class.

Section 3: High-Impact Learning Practices

Aligned with SAM SLO 3, this section requires students to write and reflect on the concept of high-impact learning practices.  Following lessons in UNIV 101 introducing high-impact learning practices, students will write the third section of the FRP.  In this section, students will relate which high-impact learning practices would be applicable to their academic and career goals.  Students are asked to identify which high-impact learning practices they wish to participate and they also discuss any of these practices that they may already be participating in.  In this section, students describe the benefits of participation in these practices and what they can learn that will help them in college and in their career.

Section 4: Extracurricular Opportunities

Students are introduced to extracurricular opportunities before writing FRP section 4 which is aligned with SAM SLO 4.  These concepts are expanded upon in UNIV 101 and discussed in relation to a student’s academic and career goals.  Discussions include the importance and impact of participation in extracurricular opportunities in relation to student success and career preparedness.  UNIV 101 instructors introduce extracurricular opportunities in relation to the experiences and skills gained from these activities in relation to their intended career field.

In this section, students are asked to select one or more extracurricular opportunities that they are participating in or that they want to participate in.  The also have to discuss why they think participating in these activities will help them reach their academic and career goals.

Section 5: Student Services

Similar to section 4, section 5 (aligned with SAM SLO5) requires students to discuss student services in relation to how these services can help them achieve their academic and career goals.  Students learn about the different services offered on campus and then will discuss which services they feel with be of most help to them throughout their years on campus.  They also identify which services why hope to utilize and discuss how those services will help them overcome any challenges they overcome as students.

Click here to view the Freshman Reflection Piece Writing Template

Click here to View the Freshman Reflection Piece Assessment Rubric

Description of the Sophomore Reflection Piece and Related Activities

The Sophomore Reflection Piece is administered to students at the end of their sophomore year.  Academic departments identify which classes in their programs will be used to administer these reflective writing assignments.  Ideally students in these classes will have earned between 45-59 hours and be ready to transition into junior standing.  The writing template follows the same line on questioning and reflection as the FRP and the same assessment rubric applies.

Click here to view the Sophomore Reflection Piece Writing Template