Learning Reflections

Martha J. Bianco, Ph.D.

Portland State University

© 2005-2006

Note: This material is drawn from information provided by Bridgewater College (see below for citation).




Sample Picture

food for thought


What Are They?

Learning Reflections are an opportunity for you to engage in conscious review and critical analysis of what you’ve experienced so far in this class. 


Reflection helps develop and provide meaning to your learning experience and, most importantly, helps you own the experience.


Ideally, this process will help motivate you to learn from what you’ve done so far, to expand your view and value system, and to identify goals for further learning.


Learning Reflection is, in fact, the final step in a three-step process of goal setting, self-assessment, and, finally, reflection.  As you engage in the reflection activity, think about what you initially wanted to learn or accomplish (if anything), how well you met your expectations, and then purposefully, consciously, and critically analyze the experience.

How To Do Them:

This section provides a very rough outline that you may follow when writing your Learning Reflection.  This is a suggestion only.   You may, for example, want to approach your reflection with these three questions in mind:

*  What?

*  So What?

*  Now What?


This refers to the substance of what you’ve done since your last Reflection.  If this is your first Reflection, it refers to the substance of what you’ve done since the beginning of class.  Ask yourself questions like these:

*   What have I/we done so far? This can include projects, discussions, viewings of films, class lectures, etc.

*   What did I like or dislike about these things?

*   What skills did I bring to the project?


So What?

This refers to the lessons you’ve learned, the difference the project(s) have made for you, the purpose of the project(s) in this class and in your general program.  Ask yourself questions like these:

*   Why did I do this project (whichever project you might be reflecting upon)?

*   Why did I choose the topic (if you did make a choice)?

*   What have I learned about the topic?

*   What have I learned about myself?

*   How is this project related to my studies?

*   In what way is this project related to my overall career or academic goals?


Now What?

This section asks, “Where do I go from here?”  Ask yourself questions like the following:

*   What will I do differently next time?

*   If you identified a social problem, ask yourself what society could do about this problem.

*   What could you do about the problem?

*   How has this experience affected your learning, life, or career goals?

Style and Format

You should use the expressive writing style for this assignment, which is a style that focuses on your feelings and impressions.  You are not expected to have citations unless you make a reference that requires one.  You should, however, write properly.  Although you will not be graded according to the strict grading form used for SECRETs and other writing-intensive assignments, it is still a good idea for you to use the writing checklist when you prepare your paper.  Spelling, typographical, and serious punctuation errors will count against you. You might want to use this KWL Chart to help organize your thoughts.

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Source: Bridgewater College.  “What Do You Mean by Reflection?” N.d. 3 Mar. 2005 <http://www.bridgewater.edu/departments/servlearn/Reflection.htm>.