Determining distance education learners' cognitive processes and levels of reflection using Web blogs

Roja Rivera
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baņos, the Philippines

A written composition reflects the cognitive processes involved in its production. In academic work, reflective writing is used as a means of learning and developing higher-order thinking skills, such as critical thinking and metacognition. Among the forms of reflective assignments for students is journal writing. In the distance learning environment, eJournals, such as Web blogs, can be used as a platform for journaling and reflective writing.

This study aims to determine the cognitive processes and levels of reflection of distance education (DE) learners using their Web blogs. These Web blogs were analysed using the content analysis method. The revised Bloom's taxonomy by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) was employed in identifying the cognitive processes employed by the learners in writing their reflective outputs while Hatton and Smith's (1995) Types of Reflective Writing was utilized in determining the students' level of reflection. Seventy Web blog entries by seven DE learners who completed an undergraduate course on instructional media resources were analysed for this study. The results suggest that the type of reflection usually undertaken by the students in writing their reflective Web blogs are descriptive reflection and descriptive writing, for which the cognitive processes mostly utilized are remembering and understanding. Based on the study's findings, reflective writing through the use of Web blogs can be valuable in formative assessment as the learners' cognitive skills and levels of reflection can be examined through these written outputs. Furthermore, in facilitating reflective writing assignments, such as Web blogging, a methodical approach directed towards the consistent employment of dialogic and critical types of reflection among DE learners should be purposefully implemented.