Structuring the Reflection Process

Design Process

The FAQs section introduced the concept of structured reflection and the principles of effective reflection. Faculty play a key role in structuring the reflection process. Below is a list of key design decisions that faculty must make about the reflection process:

Reflection: Design Decisions

Learning outcomes
Establishing clearly defined outcomes is the key to effective reflection. Learning outcomes must drive the design of reflection activities, and the feedback and assessment process.
Frequency and timing of reflection
Faculty must create several opportunities for reflection before, during, and after service experience.
Form of reflection
Faculty must select appropriate forms of reflection. The FAQs section described different forms of reflection including journals, portfolios, and integrative papers. While selecting appropriate forms of reflection, the following issues must be addressed:

Degree of Structure
Regardless of the form of reflection used, faculty must make decisions about how to structure the reflection. For example, in using journals faculty must decide whether to use a free form journal or to provide more structure to journal entries. Faculty may seek to encourage open-ended explorations of issues. However, if little structure is provided then students may fail to explore important issues.

Small group/large group
Students may often participate in service experiences with their peers. Faculty must decide how to engage small groups and/or the entire class in reflection.

Communication with Community partners
Faculty must also explore opportunities for involving community partners in reflection. By enhancing communication between students, faculty and community partners, such involvement can enhance community outcomes as well as student learning.
Frequent feedback may be required to prompt students to think further about issues, and to consider other issues and perspectives. Faculty must also make decisions about how to grade student reflection.

The purpose of this section is to offer guidance to faculty based on current S-L and other educational literature on these design decisions. As discussed below, the six principles of effective reflection (connected, continuous, challenging, coaching, contextualized, and communication) discussed in the FAQs section provide a framework for making each of the above decisions.

The first "C" considered in the following discussion relates to the context of service-learning since all design decisions are affected by the overall context of service-learning. Faculty must consider issues such as number of students, complexity of the project, weight assigned to the service project in the overall course grade, and student background while establishing learning outcomes and developing reflection activities.

Next: Contextualizing Reflection

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