Critical Reflection

We call it critical reflection. You might call it analysis, meaning-making, integration or integrative learning. No matter the name, the principle is the same. It’s asking students to:

  1. pause;
  2. step away from their coursework or project;
  3. and make sense of what’s going on by connecting their experience, theory and tacit knowledge.

Hands-on experience is important, but engaged-learning theorists and practitioners agree that the doing isn’t the only thing that matters. Students need reflection to understand how their limited experience fits within a bigger picture.

Reflection doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be well designed. Through activities such as group dialogues, essay writing, journaling and blogging, students begin to recognize and examine their own and others’ taken-for-granted assumptions, consider diverse viewpoints and think about their community-engaged work in context.

Articles and Tools

If you’re an Engaged Cornell grantee, visit the Blackboard site to take a deeper dive into critical reflection. (Don’t have access? Let us know!)

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Get in touch. Anna Sims Bartel, (607) 254-4510, and Amanda Wittman, (607) 255-1478, from the Office of Engagement Initiatives are eager to connect — on the phone, over email or in person.