Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica Tracey


While the concept of reflection is not new to education, researchers suggest that students be given more space to engage in meaning-making activities (Sambrook & Willmott, 2014). In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis placed in education on self-reflection. In part, because of Donald Schön’s (1983, 1987) work on reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Schön’s view of reflection-in¬-action puts students in the “midst of action,” reshaping the problem or experience, and making fresh decisions to guide next steps. Reflection-on-action allows students to think back on what has occurred and how that experience will shape future decisions. Taking a similar approach as Schön, David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker (as cited in Hong & Choi, 2011; Mann, Gordon, & MacLeod, 2009) describe reflection as a way for individuals to take a step back from their experiences, think through what has happen as it related to emotions felt, and then evaluate the situation from a new point of understanding. Reflection provides an avenue for students to explore their relationship with the changing world and start to build their perceptions of self and in the context of their professions.

Design students are not only faced with challenges in an every changing world but also lack the strategies to increase levels of self-efficacy. This poses a problem on how best to impact the development of self-efficacy in students using reflective practices and has several implications on the way in which instruction can be designed to create deeper reflection in students within the academic setting. This mix-methods quasi-experimental study attempted to explore the impact of using reflection as a tool to increase self-efficacy in graduate design students. The goal was to examine how various reflective writing prompts impacted the level of self-efficacy and reflection levels of the graduate design student. Social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997), constructivism and reflective practices (Schön, 1983, 1987) guided this study.

Both qualitative and quantitative data was collected and analyzed to provide a comprehensive view of the research. Findings indicated that self-efficacy decreased over the course of the semester. The study also set out to examine how various reflective writing prompts impacted the level of reflection of graduate design students. As analyzed by the REFLECT rubric, results indicated that the reflection-on-action writing strategy produced the highest level of reflection in graduate design students. Some participants challenged their beliefs in light of new perspectives, resulting in changed perceptions and growth. Others maintained a consistent view of their definitions of design, instruction, and themselves as a designer. Those who challenged their current thinking reached higher levels of reflection.