We want students gain as many experiences as possible while they are at college. This matches college students’ thoughts as well. As a result, how often to our students go from one event or meeting to another only to have administrators encourage them to go to more? Sometimes our encouragement is direct, as in talking with a student in person. In other times, our encouragement is in the form event promotions.
Campus events and co-curricular activities are a vital part of our campuses, providing a lifeblood of experiences. They serve important roles for the campus community. However, do we shuffle students too much from event to event at the expense of meaning-making? Are we asking students to reflect enough? I continue to see more and more opportunities offered for students, but the reflective piece is often missing. Is being cut because it seems too difficult to implement? Do we skip that part because as staff in student affairs, programming and engagement is what we are often about (i.e., do we find it easier to come up with another program idea to implement as opposed to designing ways to reflect on what we already implemented)?
If we want students to not just be busy on our campuses, but actually gain something from their experiences (e.g, new knowledge about self, others, thew world, policies, systems, etc.), then we need to provide them a way to see the forest from the trees. Or, to keep the shuffling analogy, are we promoting more shuffling and less viewing of the entire deck?
Reflective activities do not need to be difficult. In fact, they can be made to be quite simple and relatively easy to implement. Here are a few ideas to implement after an activity:
- Have students tweet their thoughts to your twitter account, or, alternatively, use a special hashtag – they can even do this on the bus ride back from a field trip;
- Ask students to turn to another student and share their thoughts about the event for 3 minutes, then switch;
- Set up a PollEverywhere account and have students answer questions about the event and their experience via SMS (text) messaging;
- Schedule a twitter chat and engage your students in live conversation;
- Start a blog – post information about each event and ask students to contribute their thoughts on attending in the comments portion.
These are just a few, quick examples. What other ways have you helped students to reflect on their activities?