Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Ursula El Hage (ursula.hage@usj.edu.lb), Fouad E Maroun (fouad.maroun@usj.edu.lb),

The role of integrating real-world challenges in the classroom to develop reflection and empathy

Jesuit universities, as well as others, are responsible of providing a framework for reflection on the role each student plays in being part of the solution to the many challenges the world is currently facing. The Ignatian pedagogical paradigm puts reflection as a key element of a holistic formation. This research compares two non-conventional simulation courses in relation with the real market, in which participants are faced with ambiguous situations and uncertain outcomes. One course requires the participants to prepare two formal reflective feedbacks on their overall experience, the other course makes use of regular informal feedbacks. Both courses are given in a Lebanese Jesuit university. Being a Jesuit University, and considering the importance of reflection in the Ignatian pedagogical paradigm, the first course integrated the reflection in its classwork to push student to reflect, understand and learn from the experience they are going through. The objective of the research is to analyse the participants’ perception of this reflective practice and its impact on their formation as a whole person. For that purpose, we conducted two focus groups with fifteen (15) participants each. The first focus group addressed students from the course requiring formal feedbacks. The second focus group addressed students from the course using informal feedbacks. We used a qualitative approach and tools for classifying and analysing the collected data. This research showed that participating in courses that integrate ambiguity and uncertainty helps students to give reflection an important part in their decision-making process; it also guides them to more compassionate and empathic decisions that do not only aim to look for one right answer. Informal feedbacks showed to be critical for getting reflections that would not otherwise be written nor discussed in formal assessment, while formal feedbacks push the students to dedicate more time and interest to reflect on the experience.