Award-winning course design is no guarantee that students will actually learn from their service-learning or academic internship experiences. The meaning-making that is at the heart of student learning is conditional upon student's ability and willingness to reflect on their experiences. The following principles and resources can help to guide faculty members as they design reflective elements for their courses.
Principles of Experiential Learning Reflection
- All partners model, participate in, and benefit from the reflection process.
- Reflection activities are designed to connect off-campus experiences and classroom learning.
- Course outcomes provide a foundation for each off-campus activity. Each reflection activity has desired outcomes that relate to the course outcomes.
- Opportunities for reflection are intentionally designed, and integrated throughout the course, both in and outside the classroom.
- Community partners and faculty agree on the content and process (design, implementation, assessment) of reflection activities and assignments (at a minimum, those that involve the community partner).
- Opportunities for engaging in reflection in culturally relevant ways, that are meaningful for a diversity of students, are provided (e.g. artistic, more/less structured, affective as well as cognitive, oral, written).
- Reflection activities guide students in examining their own perspectives and assumptions about themselves, their community, and the organizations and people they are working with in the community, and the impact of these perceptions on their service.
- Particularly in service-oriented courses/internships, the relationships between power, privilege, prejudice, oppression, root cause of inequity, the service they are engaged in, as well as the academic content they are studying are intentionally explored.
- Reflection activities invite students to consider their goals as professionally and/or personally community-oriented people (e.g., what would it mean to be "socially responsible accountant," "a community biologist," or a "civically minded parent"? Are these goals they have for themselves?).
- Reflection activities are designed to facilitate exploration of self, community and issues rather than ask students to develop pre-mature solutions to complex challenges.
- Each student is both challenged and supported throughout the reflection process.
Online Resources for Reflection
- Connecting Thinking and Action: Ideas for Service Learning Reflection, RMC Research Corporation
- Facilitating Reflection, University of Vermont John Dewey Project on Progressive Education
- Effective Practices Collection, Corporation for National and Community Service
- Effective Reflection, Barbara Jacoby, University of Maryland faculty handbook
- Service Reflection Toolkit