4 Key Principles of Reflection

  • Continuous: Reflection should be ongoing, occurring before, during and after students' experiences.
  • Connected: Reflection provides opportunity to integrate learning from experience with academic content or personal development, including ways in which the experiences illustrate concepts, theories, and trends.
  • Challenging: Reflection both supports and challenges students to engage issues by thinking critically, pushing them to pose stimulating questions and to develop alternative explanations for their initial perceptions and observations of their experiences.
  • Contextualized: Reflection relies on the analysis of the context of the issues being discussed and the setting. It occurs in various forms and settings.

(Eyler, Giles, & Schmiede, 1996)

Levels of Reflection

  • What?
    • What service have I engaged in? Who is the client/population I am serving with?
    • How does this reflect who I am
    • What are my values? What have I learned about myself?
  • So What?
    • So what have I learned about the organization, people, or community?
    • So what impacts have my actions, skills and knowledge had on the clients and/or organization?
    • So what does this challenge about my preconceived ideas, values, philosophies or the way I live my life?
    • So what ways does this experience compliment or contrast the theories/concepts learned in class or through assigned readings?
    • So what does this service experience inform me about the need for and ways to use my skills and knowledge?
  • Now What?
    • Now what am I able to identify as any underlying or overarching themes that influence the issue being addressed in class and in the community?
    • Now what ways are the issue/community partner impacted by what is going on in the larger political/social sphere or the changes in the field I am studying?
    • Now what will I think and do in the same service experience tomorrow, next week, or a month from now? How will this experience inform my future academic, personal and professional behavior and choices?

Types of Reflection

  • Reading: literature & written material case studies, books, professional journals, poems
  • Writing: written exercises, journaling, essays, self-evaluations, creating portfolios, analysis paper, poems, case studies, song lyrics, discussion boards/blogs
  • Doing: projects & activities simulations, role playing, video development, musical performance, analyzing/creating budgets, watching related movie
  • Telling: oral exercises informal/formal discussions, storytelling, teaching a class, presentations, legislative testimony, debate