Critical Reflection as a High Impact Practice in Learning Engineering

Critical reflection is a deliberate process wherein students focus on their practice and consider the thinking and mindsets that led to particular actions, what happened, and what they are learning from the experience. Reflection activities situate students in contexts of productive discomfort to improve practice through a future-oriented frame. Reflection empowers learners by making them more active participants in the learning process, encouraging them to think about their development in a deeper and more critical way. The mindsets and processes central to reflection align with those of design, namely to identify problems, ideate solutions, develop prototypes, test alternatives, and evaluate the outcomes with a mind toward future improvements and opportunities. Thus, through this work, we aim to design a series of reflection activities and practices that are centered on data visualizations representing students’ design activities. 

The desired outcome of these critical reflections is to foster the development of reflective engineers who equally consider their design learning, identity development, and community belonging while also developing students’ teamwork and leadership. Thus, the goal of this work is (1) to design reflection activities, to be completed by individual students and teams of students, that will be integrated within E4 and (2) to design a plan to evaluate the impact of these activities.

Supporting students through these difficult conversations using data and structured reflections has the potential to be transformative in developing a more equitable and inclusive culture wherein norms, behaviors, and mindsets aren’t assumed or left unquestioned. The intended outcomes of this work are to train students as reflective engineers who engage in nonlinear approaches to design and who proactively develop team cultures that value diverse experiences, views, and thinking all in service to creating a more equitable future and high-quality designs that serve society.

Check out some recent work:

Essay Prompt (~1 page total, due 24 hours prior to your scheduled interview): Why are you interested in working on this project? What skills do you hope to learn through this work? What skills do you bring to the group that support the project’s success? 

Name of research group, project, or lab
Santana Lab
Why join this research group or lab?

As a member of this group, you would work on projects that seek to transform the culture of learning at HMC. Furthermore your work products have the potential to enhance engineering knowledge, abilities, identity, and belonging and contribute to the body of knowledge in engineering education.

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Engineering Education
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

Students with a knowledge about or an interest in Engineering education, Human-Centered Design, or sociology are especially encouraged to apply.

Time commitment
Spring - Part Time
Academic Credit
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Lesson design, experimental design, human-centered design, data analysis

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Mentor email
Mentor position
Name of project director or principal investigator
Steven Santana
Email address of project director or principal investigator
1 sp. | 0 appl.
Hours per week
Spring - Part Time
Project categories
Engineering Education