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Critical Reflection

The bridge between service and learning

Resources for reflection are broken into the following sections:

  1. overview
  2. teaching tips
  3. models
  4. reflection assignments

Links for these sections are found in the block on the right side of this page under Menu Links.


The Purpose of Critical Reflection

Critical reflection is the key element of service learning that bridges in-class learning and service experiences. Through guided prompts, students can focus on objectives before, during, and after their service experiences, creating more intentional, guided learning.

A key aspect of reflective writing is that it it not a description paper. Rather, it should focus on how the student is making meaning of what happened. Find more information at Tips for Teaching Reflective Writing.


Best Practice

Engage students in reflection before, during, and after their service experiences. Reflection assignments give students the space to analyze their experiences, think about their decisions, draw on theory, and adjust their behaviors to newly constructed conclusions before the next service experience or time spent on a project.


Goals of Reflection

Reflection should help students make a connection between their service experience and the academic concepts they have learned in the classroom. Reflection is a tool to help students develop critical thinking skills and improve on future performance by analyzing their experience

Personal connection (affective)
Well-written prompts can help challenge students’ currently held beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, biases, privileges, prejudices, and stereotypes. Reflection activities provide opportunities for students make a connection between experience and their personal values, feelings, motives, desires, behaviors, and ability to create change.

Social Responsibility
Reflection activities provide space for students to consider and understand the complexity of their service experience and put it in a larger context. Well constructed prompts help them articulate how their discipline or what they learned in a course can be used to positively impact a community.

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