Types of Reflection Activities

Initial Publication Date: November 30, 2010
A student making a point during a classroom presentation Details
There are a variety of reflection activities that can be used to help students reflect upon their learning and service activities:
  • Oral Reflection (feelings, expertise, or cognition) help students express their knowledge, feelings, concerns and frustrations. Discussions may involve the entire class or just small numbers of students. Students can be encouraged to make cognitive links between their academic learning and service experience, through the ORID Model of Reflection (Stanfield, 1997). This model provides a progression of question types designed to move student from reflecting on a concrete experience to analytical and subjective reasoning. It mirrors the Kolb experiential learning cycle.
    • Objective: Introduce questions related to the concrete experience (What did student do, observe, read? Who was involved? etc)
    • Reflective: Introduce questions that address the affective experience (How did they feel? What did it remind then of? etc)
    • Interpretive: Introduce questions that address their cognitive experience (What did the experience make them think? How did their thinking change?, etc)
    • Decisional: Introduce questions that affect their development (What will they do differently in the future? How did the experience affect their use of information, skills, understanding?, etc)
  • Journals are tools for critical reflection, but do not ensure critical reflection unless structured to do so. Journals should help students sort through their feelings, think critically and solve problems. There are many formats of journal reflection, however the purpose of the journal should be clear and follow a format that the instructor explains and models in class. Faculty should read student journals for both formative and summative purposes.
  • Reflective Essays are a more formal example of journal entries. They can focus on personal development, academic connections to course content, or ideas and recommendations for future action.
  • Directed Writings ask students to consider the service experience within the framework of course content. The instructor provides a question from course readings and ask students to consider their experience in this context.
  • Experiential Research Paper, based on Kolb's experiential learning cycle, is a formal assignment that asks students to identify a particular experience at the service site and analyze that experience within the broader context of the course in order to make any necessary recommendations for change. Mid-semester, students are asked to identify an underlying disciplinary content issue they have encountered at the service site. Students then research the social issue and read the relevant literature on the topic. Based on their experience and library research, students make recommendations for future action. This reflection activity is useful in inter-disciplinary interests and expertise to pursue issues experienced at the service site. Class presentations of the experiential research paper can culminate semester work. (Julie Hatcher, IUPUI)