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:
- step away from their coursework or project;
- 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
- Read “Generating, Deepening, and Documenting Learning: The Power of Critical Reflection in Applied Learning” by Sarah L. Ash and Patti H. Clayton to better understand the importance of critical reflection and how to do it well.
- See the Critical Reflection and Community Engaged Experience Handout for a quick guide to reflection models and pitfalls.
You may also be interested in
- Attending the two-day Faculty Institute on Community Engaged Learning and Teaching (CELT)
- Applying to join the yearlong Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program
- Applying for an Engaged Cornell grant