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The reflective learning process

What is the role of reflection in the learning process?

Students sometimes view reflective writing as an annoying interruption to the serious business of developing content knowledge in their subject area. However, there are sound reasons why reflective writing is included in student assessment.

"Reflection is indicative of deep learning, and where teaching and learning activities such as reflection are missing… only surface learning can result."
Biggs 1999 in King 2002

Reflective writing tasks are given to students to help students learn through reflection, precisely because of the established link between reflection and deeper learning. As well as facilitating learning and monitoring learning, the intention is to produce graduates who have acquired the habit of reflection as a means of continuing to learn and grow in their professions. Reflection can lead to:

  • personal growth
  • professional growth
  • meaningful change.
"Reflection leads to growth of the individual – morally, personally, psychologically, and emotionally, as well as cognitively".
Branch & Paranjape, 2002, p. 1187

Reflection can help you to:

  • better understand your strengths and weaknesses
  • identify and question your underlying values and beliefs
  • acknowledge and challenge possible assumptions on which you base your ideas, feelings and actions
  • recognize areas of potential bias or discrimination
  • acknowledge your fears, and
  • identify possible inadequacies or areas for improvement.

Reflection can lead to greater self-awareness, which in turn is a first step to positive change – it is a necessary stage in identifying areas for improvement and growth in both personal and professional contexts. Taking time to reflect can help you identify approaches that have worked well, and in that way reinforce good practice.

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