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Abstract

We report on the use of Brookfield’s (1995) formative assessment tool, the “Critical Incident Questionnaire” (CIQ) to help students and teachers identify and discuss key factors affecting learning. We offer insight into two major areas: 1) testing and adapting the existing tool to improve teaching and learning and 2) identifying moments of potentially productive tension between the learner and the learning process—moments that, once named, we can address more directly. We call these moments stasis points. Our research questions were: “Based on insights emerging from regular use of the CIQ, how might the tool be better worded to encourage productive student reflection?” and “What common stasis points do students identify when they reflect on their learning in the weekly CIQ?” This research was conducted within the context of a longitudinal, cross-institutional study of reflective practices in writing courses. Responses indicated a tendency to report challenges related to the pedagogical approaches of the class more than challenges concerning the understanding of course content. The study yields insights into the use of the CIQ itself, as well as into the kinds of “critical incidents” students considered most noteworthy.

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