What is Reflection?
Contemporary educators do not always understood the importance of opportunities for student reflection. Reflection in learning is a kind of feedback loop in which students monitor their own actions and consider the consequences and efficacy of those actions. It requires the ability to look at oneself in an objective way and to consider ways of changing future actions to improve performance. It is largely through reflecting that students acquire important learning skills known as metacognition. Consequently authentic Active Learning activities provide opportunities for reflection.
According to Ridley et al metacognitive skills include
- taking conscious control of learning
- planning and selecting strategies
- monitoring the progress of learning
- correcting errors
- analysing the effectiveness of learning strategies
- changing learning behaviours and strategies when necessary
Metacognition Development Strategies
Reeve and Brown describe several strategies that can be used to help students develop metacognitive knowledge:
- Students should be asked to identify consciously what they ‘know’ as opposed to what
they ‘do not know’
- Students should keep journals or logs in which they reflect upon their learning
processes, noting what works and what does not.
- Students should manage their own time and resources, including estimating time
required to complete tasks and activities, organizing materials and resources, and
scheduling the procedures necessary to complete an activity.
- Students must participate in guided self-evaluation using individual conferences and
checklists to help them focus on the thinking process.
It is important for students to know what they know and how they got there. Attaching a short journal writing assignment to the end of an activity can help them to identify new knowledge acquired and an awareness of what learning strategies were effective and which were not. This builds confidence, helps the student to take responsibility for her learning, and improves skills that will be useful in the future.
Most Active Learning activities benefit significantly from the addition of a planning segment at the outset. This gives students a chance to verify their understanding of the activity, ask questions, and share tasks if they are working in groups.
Students are often very frank in evaluating their own work. Learners who achieve a high degree of honesty in self-assessment are less likely to misjudge the effort activities require and more likely to correct habits that are impeding their progress.