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The Power of Student Reflection

The Power of Student Reflection

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn why students should engage in reflection. You will also consider the characteristics of learning tasks that are most likely to promote reflection in your students.

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In this tutorial, we'll consider the power of implementing student reflection as a tool in your classroom. We'll discuss some of the impacts of student reflection. And we'll identify some of the key characteristics. Finally, I'll share with you the qualities of tasks that encourage reflection so you know how to best foster this process with your students. Let's get started.

First, what are the impacts of student reflection? What are some of the potential benefits? To quote John Dewey, "We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience." In K-12 environments in general, reflection can be a critical component of students' learning processes. And this is especially true in competency-based environments and in Deeper Learning environments.

The process of metacognition, or reflection, and then practice helps students to take responsibility for their own learning. We want students to understand what they know and what they don't know. This helps them ultimately determine what steps are going to be necessary in order to move them forward along their learning paths.

This process also help students to understand their own individual learning preferences and processes. This is crucial as students begin to understand what's going well for them and also what they need to work on in their own learning. This cycle helps students to examine which learning strategies are best supporting their learning. Again, this component of reflection helps students to determine what is working well and what do they need to rethink as part of their learning process.

And finally, this also helps students to set goals for their own future learning. That skill of goal setting is so important. We want students to be able to set their own course, to determine the direction that they're going to take as they move along their learning paths.

So what are some of the key characteristics that we can identify in student reflection? First of all, we want to be sure that we are allowing adequate time for students to reflect and to really dig into thinking through their own learning processes. But we also want to find a balance. Because we want students to be able to return to the task at hand after they have reflected.

Next, student reflection needs to be coached or encouraged by an effective facilitator. We want this person to be able to foster this effective reflection in students. Students often just need to be coached and encouraged as they are going through this reflection process. An example would be having the facilitator frame some specific questions that the students might consider.

And finally, student reflection needs to be occurring in a supportive classroom environment. There needs to be a culture of learning present. And there needs to be a positive attitude surrounding the learning process. This helps to, again, really foster this effective process of student reflection.

So what are the various qualities of tasks that would encourage effective reflection? Reflection tends to be encouraged by real-life learning opportunities and authentic learning tasks. Also, those open-ended essential questions that we designed for our units of study-- remember, these essential questions are open-ended, overarching questions that don't necessarily have one single right or wrong answer. These questions help to encourage student reflection on their own learning and on their own opinions of how to address these essential questions. And finally, reflection is encouraged by tasks that require students to evaluate, to organize their thoughts, and to assimilate any new information into their previous knowledge.

So just as we want to encourage our students to reflect, here is a great chance for you to stop and reflect. Is your classroom environment currently one that would support effective student reflection? If not, are there any small changes that you might make to your classroom environment in order to help students to engage in this process of self reflection?

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources you want. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "The Power of Student Reflection"

(00:00 - 00:22) Introduction

(00:23 - 01:55) Impacts of Student Reflection

(01:56 - 03:00) Key Characteristics

(03:01 - 03:49) Qualities of Tasks That Encourage Reflection

(03:50 - 04:33) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Learning Logs

This Troup County School System page offers examples and strategies for using student reflective logs. This is a useful resource for teachers interested in using learning logs to improve teaching and learning.

Reflective Journals

This article from TeacherVision provides examples of reflective learning logs. In addition, the article offers student work examples so that teachers have an understanding of what to look for in a completed reflective journal.