I sometimes still think about my comprehensive exams for both my M.A. and Ph.D., and as ridiculous as it sounds, I remember that experience to be very fulfilling. What makes me remember it fondly is certainly NOT the stress that was associated with it, but the chance I had to reflect upon my learning: simply put, I had not realized until that moment how much I had learned and how much I had grown intellectually.
Ideally, “dead week” should have the same effect on our students, and we should offer them time and opportunities to reflect on their learning. A 2017 Orion article reports how this is not always the case, however, and how “dead week at Chico State is one of the most stressful times” especially if new content and assignments are added to the class this late in the semester.
This academic article offers evidence of the benefits of reflection as a form of experiential learning while providing useful background information and a literature review on the topic.
This resource from Purdue University is a reminder of the purpose and importance of reflection in writing classes and offers practical ideas about reflection activities. More resources and ideas can also be found inThree Ideas for Implementing Learner Reflection.
As we wind down towards the end of one of the most challenging semesters we all have experienced, I encourage everyone to dedicate this time for pause and reflection, and in so doing, help students realize how much they have grown and learned.