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Developing Reflective Self-Awareness in Online Undergraduate Courses

, , University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

International Journal on E-Learning Volume 20, Number 2, ISSN 1537-2456 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


Many instructors question the move to online teaching and learning and it is often met with resistance as they fear that on-line learning will be more structurally didactic. In particular, one of the major concerns is that the value of face-to-face discussions will be lost. This is a core concern for courses that require the development of self-awareness as part of the curricula, such as courses in ethnic studies, social work, counseling, nursing, educational leadership, and business programs. Using a constructed knowledge perspective, our paper introduces online activities that allow students to engage with material to develop greater self-awareness and to learn how to empathize with people who are different from themselves. We describe three categories of activities to produce self-awareness in an online undergraduate course; 1) self-awareness activities, 2) experiential assignments, and 3) online synchronous dialogue sessions. These activities scaffold learning to build students’ skills and processes for cumulative, continual and advanced learning and self-awareness. Engaging in stream-of-consciousness writing allows students unrestricted exploration of who they are (e.g., identities, perspectives) and processes (e.g., intersectionality, privilege) by which they engage as individuals and in relation to other students and other groups. For each activity, we address the underlying conceptual premises and subsequent learning objectives to advance student self-awareness as well as provide the specific practical elements of each activity for instructors’ future use in online undergraduate courses.


Uttal, L. & Gloria, A.M. (2021). Developing Reflective Self-Awareness in Online Undergraduate Courses. International Journal on E-Learning, 20(2), 199-222. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 21, 2021 from .