Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Using Images to Engage Online and On-Campus Students in Meaningful Reflection

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Using Images to Engage Online and On-Campus Students in Meaningful Reflection

Article excerpt


Researchers have long regarded reflection as a crucial part of the learning process (Boud et al., 2013); however, the mode of reflection can vary. While some students may prefer written reflections, others may prefer verbally reflecting in a classroom setting (Lamm et al., 2011). Additionally, "one form of reflective practice may not fit the needs of all students" (Lamm et al., 2011, p. 132). According to Lamm et al. (2011), it is most important that students are provided with reflection opportunities that "accommodate a variety of learning styles" (p. 132). The mode of reflection may influence an individual's attitude regarding the value of the reflective practice, which could in turn negatively impact the reflective experience (Dewey, 1933); "the attitudes an individual brings to bear on the act of reflection could either open the way to learning or abstract it" (Husu et al., 2008, p. 39).

The brain can process information via two modes: semantic processing, which involves linguistic expression, and nonlinguistic processing, which involves the construction of images of information (Marzano, 2010; Paivio, 1990). Learning through nonlinguistic representations, which requires students to process information by constructing representations of information and then explaining those representations to others, allows students to explore their perceptions and understanding about a concept without reliance on language (Marzano, 2010). Students who learn through nonlinguistic representations generate greater brain activity, as they store knowledge both linguistically and visually (Bamalli, 2014). The positive impacts of nonlinguistic representations on K-12 students' learning have been well documented - Haystead and Marzano (2009) found that, across 129 action research studies with one class employing nonlinguistic strategies and another employing linguistic strategies to learn the same content, students engaging in nonlinguistic learning strategies experienced a 17 percentile point gain in student achievement on average.

While nonlinguistic representations have been used to assist students in learning content, little information is known about the impact of nonlinguistic representation as a means of reflection. The benefits of nonlinguistic representations and necessity for reflection in the learning process warrant investigation into the impact of nonlinguistic representations in reflection on student success.

When used as a learning tool, nonlinguistic representations can take on many forms, including "graphic organizers, sketches, pictographs, concept maps, dra matizations, flowcharts, and computerized simulations, to name a few" (Marzano, 2010, p. 84). Marzano (2010) issued five characteristics of nonlinguistic representations, recommending teachers keep these in mind when employing nonlinguistic representations as a means of processing content. First, they come in many forms, and teachers should select the form of the nonlinguistic representation based on time available and content addressed. Next, they must identify crucial information; "nonlinguistic representations that fail to focus on crucial information can have little or no positive effect on student learning" (Marzano, 2010, p. 85). Third, students should explain their nonlinguistic representations. This explanation can assist students in drawing linguistic understanding from their nonlinguistic representations of the content. Nonlinguistic representations can take quite a bit of time when students are constructing them - teachers should consider this characteristic when utilizing this learning tool. Lastly, students should revise their nonlinguistic representations as they gain deeper understanding about a topic, similar to the way in which they would add to or correct their notes in class.

The act of reflection is more focused on the processing of information in relation to oneself. Dewey (1933) defined reflective thought as a controlled approach to thinking that allows the thinker to be more aware of the link between actions and consequences. …

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