- Reflective thinking is the key to making experience educative (Eyler, Giles and Schmiede 1966)
- Reflection is the intentional consideration of an experience in light of particular learning objectives
- Reflection activities provide the bridge between the community service activities and the academic content of the course
- Reflection activities direct the student’s interpretations of events and provide a means through which the community service can be studied and interpreted, much as a text is read and studied for deeper understanding
(Excerpted from Campus Compact’s Introduction to Service-Learning Toolkit)
The Importance of Reflection
Reflection is at the heart of service-learning, doing service without reflecting is “like eating without digesting.”
- Explores service and the meaning behind service experiences
- Focuses on learning from the community and environment
- Helps connect coursework with “real life”
- Helps clarify goals and values
- Highlights strengths and areas needing improvement
- Evokes constructive evaluation of the effort, the school, and the community
Types of Reflection for Service-Learning
- Guided journals and/or final reflection paper (Consider at least one pre-service and one post-service assignment with questions designed to reveal student growth & learning.)
- Experiential research paper
- Ethical case studies
- Directed readings accompanied by student synthesis of readings with the service experience
- Class presentations and discussions
- Guided blogging or video-blogging
- Poster capturing all elements of the project, including course connections
- e-Portfolio (collection of S-L deliverables, reflective essays, photos, etc.)
How We Do Reflection
- Reflection should be ongoing, it should happen before, during, and after engaging in service. It can be formal or
informaland can be facilitated through a variety of activities.
- Most professors direct students to reflect on the service experience in writing. Some ask their students to give short presentations to the rest of the
classor to meet for regular discussions about the experience. Journaling is also a popular assignment.
Sample Questions to Guide Student Reflection
To facilitate quality reflection, design great questions. These examples are intended to be expanded upon and tailored to your specific service project and course.
- What will/did you do? What is the impact of your service?
- How do you feel about it? Why – What underlies?
- What needs does your project address? What are the causes of those needs?
- How do people contribute to the problem? How can we help to solve it?
- What did you do that was effective or ineffective in service to others?
- What did you learn about your own value to your agency?
- What are you learning about yourself: your wants, needs, goals, values, skills and attitudes?
- How does your understanding of the community change as a result of your experience?
- How do you see your role with this project? How does that compare with how others may see your role?
- How does your service connect with what you’re learning in class?
- How can you continue your involvement in these issues? How can you raise others’ awareness?