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Photo of a reflective learner Details
Reflection is a crucial component of a service-learning course. Well designed reflective processes develop a service experience into a learning experience. Reflection is the process that links classroom content with student service experience.

What is Reflection?

Principles of Effective Reflection

Good reflective practices don't just happen. They require careful thought and consideration. Bringle and Hatcher (1999) and Eyler, Giles and Schmiedes (1996) argue that effective reflection:
Continuous in time frame: an ongoing part of the learner's education and service involvement, this allows students to formulate new ideas following Kolb's Cycle of Learning.
Connected to the intellectual and academic needs: This is where connections between real life experiences and course material are evaluated and become relevant.
Challenging to assumptions and complacency: Reflection must challenge students and provoke thought in a more critical way.
Contextualized in terms of design and setting
: Faculty set parameters to ensure that reflection is appropriate for the context of the service-learning experience, thus adding to the linkage between thinking about course content and actually applying it.

Using Reflection Throughout the Service-Learning Experience

Attaining service-learning goals is dependent on effective reflection. Eyler (2001) suggests that our growing understanding of how student learn supports reflective practices before, during and after community service. Her 'Reflection Map' is a tool for organizing our thinking about the types of reflection activities that are consistent with how students learn. Using this tool helps instructors to choose different types of reflection activities that best integrate experience with academic course content.

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