The self-reflective nature of this blog sparked a connection for me with the ‘Self Authoring’ program suite created by a group of clinical and research psychologists, including the fascinating Dr Jordan B. Peterson.
Dr Peterson is a clinical psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, who makes all of his lectures freely available on YouTube. While I readily admit to harbouring quite a lot of cynicism regarding anything that feels like ‘self-help’, I was forced to reevaluate my prejudice on hearing Dr Peterson’s cogent explanations on a recent podcast. His focus on practical, nuanced and unflinching self-evaluation immediately distanced itself from the self-congratulatory, manipulative cash-grabs I initially thought of.
The Self Authoring program is a set of exercises that guide users through assessing their past, present and future by writing autobiographically to examine their own faults, past issues, and aims for the future. It draws on research into using written narrative to enhance mental and physical health through the production of organized, structured memories, and in the analysis of cause/effect relationships in the past and their application to the present and future.¹ Listening to Dr Peterson talk about the power of writing and self-evaluation has also put the importance of self-evaluation in the upcoming EL6052 e-tivity into sharp relief! The course has cited phenomenal results in reducing student drop out rates and improving academic results in third-level institutions. This effect is backed up by research by Travers, Morisano and Locke in the British Journal of Educational Psychology. Their research examined the outcomes of a module on advanced interpersonal skills and personal development involving 92 UK business students. The module relied heavily on self-reflection and goal setting. The module resulted in direct increases in academic progress and also indirect improvements in areas such as stress management.²
Aside from reinforcing the power of self-reflection, this Self Authoring tool has also reminded me that effective e-learning content doesn’t just involve fashioning an efficient knowledge delivery device to instruct a passive audience. With the correct approach and structure it can focus on helping to create a ‘permanent change in behaviour’ by building a constructivist framework for students that guides them to create their own learning and meaning with a minimal, but targeted, amount of content.