Guiding Principles of Reflection

  • Reflection is most effective when it is continuous - done before, during and after service activities.
  • Utilizing a wide array of reflection strategies is the most effective way of engaging all students in learning from service.
  • Post-service reflection needs to happen as soon after the service event as possible.
  • Insights gained via reflection can be used to support learning in other contexts and long after the initial reflection session.
  • Some of the most compelling reflection sessions actively involve people who are receiving the service as well as students who are doing the service.
  • The environment and method of reflection should be appropriate for the given course (may not always be formal, may be conducted in the service setting, etc.)
  • Reflection activities are most effective when they are challenging (pushing students to engage unfamiliar or even uncomfortable issues) AND "safe" (an environment is created in which learners feel confident that their contributions, backgrounds and feelings will be respected and appreciated).

"All those things that we had to do for the [community] learning. Each one successively helped me to pull together what I'd learned. As you're going along, you're not really seeing what you're learning every minute. But, when you have to pull it all together and really think about it, I think it helped me realize what had taken place."
- University student