The effects of experiential learning with an emphasis on reflective writing on deep-level processing of agricultural leadership students
Moore, Copie D.
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Colleges and universities throughout this great land are charged with the awesome responsibility of developing our youth into becoming productive, contributing citizens. More specifically, within these colleges and universities, instructors are instrumental in the development of students. Experiential learning, and, more importantly, reflective writing are important components of college instructors? repertoires. Learning is not complete without proper reflection. The purpose of this study was to examine upper-level undergraduate students? perceptions of learning in an agricultural leadership course that emphasized experiential learning methods. Specifically, this study examined student attitudes regarding experiential learning and if students used a surface or deep approach to learning. The respondents to the study included the students enrolled in ALED 340: Professional Leadership Development. This study employed procedures associated with mixed methods research. Within the quantitative portion of this study, the students were required to complete the revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire pre-intervention and post-intervention. The intervention consisted of teaching strategies associated with experiential learning with an emphasis on reflective writing. Based upon the students? self-reported answers, it was determined that post-intervention scores for the Deep Approach Scale and the Surface Approach Scale were statistically similar to the students? pre-intervention scores. Teaching strategies associated with experiential learning with an emphasis on reflective writing did not have an influence on the way the students approached learning. Within the qualitative portion of the study and as a course requirement, the students were asked to keep a reflective journal. Upon completion of the course, the students were asked to prepare a reflective paper, which served as a comprehensive reflection of the course. Three themes emerged from the students? reflective journals and papers?the students? perceptions of experiential learning, the indicators of a deep approach to learning, and how learning was maximized. In conclusion, the students benefited greatly from receiving instruction associated with experiential learning, and the students did foster a deep approach to learning, regardless of their answers to the revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire. Reflection completed the learning process for the students enrolled in ALED 340: Professional Leadership Development.