Supporting self-reflection in students learning at a distance

Edwards, Chris and Hush, Michael (2009). Supporting self-reflection in students learning at a distance. In: Learning in Higher Education - How Style Matters: Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference of the European Learning Styles Information Network, 17-19 Jun 2009, Bulle-en-Gruyere, Switzerland.


This paper considers the details and results of a pilot study into the use of the Effective Lifelong
Learning Inventory, ELLI, with those undertaking higher education at a distance. It explores the
practicalities of using a tool primarily designed for face to face discussions in a context where this is not
possible and shows how it might be of particular use to groups of new distance learning students. The
kinds of benefit these students might experience are described.

This tool provides a description of a learner’s profile in terms of seven dimensions of learning. A profile
is plotted on a chart and used to seed and inform a reflective and exploratory discussion that may lead to
the individual deciding on actions intended to promote change. By relating this work to a range of
similar studies in higher education in the UK, the way in which this pilot study contributes to a broader
understanding of the use of ELLI in higher education will be discussed. Particular attention is paid to
how some groups exhibit characteristic strengths in this seven dimensional space.

ELLI, whose development and effectiveness is well documented, was trialed with four groups of
students covering two subject areas (arts and engineering) and including those at the beginning and end
of their degree studies. The results show those closest to the beginning of their study reporting the
greatest benefit from using ELLI to reflect on their learning, and the ways they learn.

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