I think everyone has had the experience of memorizing something for a test and immediately forgetting the information as soon as the test is over. Learning information solely for a test is not beneficial in the long-run. Nonetheless, people still cram information only to forget the next day. As professors, it is important to help students learn, rather than memorize. While memorization is only beneficial for a brief period, “understanding enables us to make connections between something that we’ve learned in the classroom and actually put it to use once we leave the door” (Chang 4).  This is not just an important factor for subjects with tests, either. Even professors who teach English need to enforce learning, rather than memorizing. Students should be able to comprehend research skills, how to structure sentences, and how to form a thesis. Thus, it is imperative for students to understand the reasoning behind certain aspects writing, such as citations, grammar, analysis, and research. If they are just doing things because the assignment sheet told them to, it is not likely that these skills will stay with them into their next course, and as other posts have discussed, writing is prevalent even after composition courses are over. Tinberg reiterates, “we also want our students to demonstrate consciousness of process that will enable them to reproduce success” (75). It is important to emphasize how learning these skills will be beneficial throughout their college career and life.

A huge part of the writing process and improving is reflecting. There is so much that can be said in a reflective essay. As a tutor, I was asked the same question about reflections every time a student came in with a reflection essay, “but what should I even write about?” Taczak notes that “writers think reflection only means considering how they feel about their writing” (79). While writers can (and should) reflect on how they feel, there are many other aspects of reflective essays, as well. Students can write about how they feel they did, evaluate how they did, discuss future goals, and provide examples from their papers. It is through reflection that “writers develop and improve” (Taczak 78). This gives them a chance to think critically about their research tactics and papers. Reflecting is a great way for people to “entrench” (“solidify”) the knowledge, so people can utilize the skills in future papers and projects (Anson 77). Reflective essays can help students better understand what they do well and what they need to work on in the future. Below is a very brief (because everyone likes brief) video on reflective essays.

It is easier said than done to put items into our memory forever, rather than just for a day or even a class. Does anyone have any tips on how to encourage the understanding of writing tactics, rather than just the regurgitation of them? Also, how do you all feel about reflections? I love writing them, but the reaction to these papers can differ greatly.

Works Cited

6 thoughts on “Reflect on What You Learn

  1. I think a big part of getting students to learn rather than memorize is helping them understand that if they don’t learn the concepts and the ideas behind them then they’ll be stuck in an infinite loop of having to rememorize information they could have learned outright from the beginning.

  2. I agree that reflective writing is extremely important in ensuring that students begin to analyze and absorb the knowledge they are gathering. Reflection is a key part of the metacognitive process which helps students understand why they make the choices they make, and I think it’s essential educators build the framework to get students “thinking about thinking.”

  3. Hey Peyton,

    I think that both of our blog posts this week dealt with making sure students go the extra mile in the classroom. It’s not enough just to know something; you also need to be able to say how you know something. This way, students are able to apply that framework or mindset to other pieces of writing.

  4. Back in the 1980’s there was a tv show called Married…With Children. Christina Applegate played the eldest daughter who was the typical ditzy blonde stereotyped so often on television. I hated the show, but every once in a while it was playing somewhere that I was. One episode did catch my attention, and I still remember it’s “message.” The daughter was forced to learn something new, but there was a trade-off. Since her brain could hold only so much information, once something new went in, something old had to come out. Therefore, she forgot what a doorbell was. I often think about this since I started back in school. It is no secret that I had extreme difficulty trying to learn Spanish.

    My point is that some things are easier to learn than others, and some people can learn easier than others. The challenge for any student is knowing what to learn and what to memorize. When I was about five years old, I memorized a poem about a purple cow, and still remember it. However, I could not memorize the conjugation of Spanish verbs. On the flip side, I couldn’t learn them either. Maybe my brain didn’t want to forget what a doorbell was.

  5. Hahaha. That is a terrible thing to show on television! But it does sometimes feel like my brain can’t hold anymore information. Thinking about everything my brain can hold onto is too much. Why can I remember every song lyrics to an album I listened to when I was ten, but I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday?

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