Reflecting on learning is one of the best ways to consolidate skills and knowledge that a student has acquired. In this lesson, you will learn what makes a good reflection question, and you will see some examples of how a reflection question might look.
What Is a Reflection Question?
Say you worked hard for two weeks on a project about earth science for school. You have a nice poster board collage, a paper to go with it, and you presented the project in front of a class. You expect to be asked questions about the science itself, but instead, your teacher asks you, 'So, what do you think you did well during this project?' You immediately have to think in a different way. I mean, what kind of a question is that?
A reflection question is what we call any question that makes a student look back over what or how they have learned. Reflection questions often assess metacognitive skills, otherwise known as thinking about how we think and learn. Reflection questions are important for a number of different reasons. By encouraging students to reflect on their learning, these sorts of questions help students:
- Consolidate the knowledge and skills they have acquired in a lesson or unit
- Get to know themselves better as learners, thinkers, and community members
- Provide important feedback to their teachers and to their peers
- Generate questions and ideas to propel future learning experiences
There are a number of different ways to think about using reflection questions with your students. Now that you have seen some of the reasons reflection questions are important, we will learn about four types of reflection questions, including examples of each type. These types of questions are:
- process reflection questions
- product reflection questions
- feedback questions
- self-assessment questions
Process Reflection Questions
Mrs. Carello is an art teacher who especially likes to use process reflection questions with her classes. She explains that process reflection questions are questions that help students think about how they have learned or engaged in an activity. Some examples of process reflection questions include:
- What did you think you did well during this project?
- What new skills or knowledge did you try out during this project?
- If you worked with other students on this project, describe that experience and how you think it went.
- What do you think you might do differently if you tried this project again?
By answering process reflection questions, students are really focusing on their own methods as learners and workers. Answering these sorts of questions helps them understand their strengths and weaknesses in the learning process. Mrs. Carello reads her students' reflections and confers with them about their responses before they start a new project.
Product Reflection Questions
Mr. Samuel is a social studies teacher who is interested in using product reflection questions with his students. Mr. Samuel explains that product reflection questions help students focus on how their final work has turned out. He uses these sorts of questions to help students orient themselves toward making improvements over the course of the year. Some of Mr. Samuel's go-to questions include:
- What are you proudest of in the work you have completed, and why?
- What about your work are you least proud of, and why?
- Who would you like to share this work with, and why?
When Mr. Samuel's students share their final work, they also share their answers to these reflection questions, so that they can speak openly and honestly about their feelings and how their work turned out.
Reflection Questions as Feedback
Mr. Barton is a 4th-grade teacher who often uses feedback reflection questions with his students to get their take on his own teaching. When his students do group work, he also uses reflection questions to encourage them to give gentle feedback to each other on their contributions to the group. Some examples of reflection questions intended as feedback include:
- What did you like most about this activity, and why?
- What do you think you learned from this activity?
- What was most challenging or least interesting about this activity?
- How did your fellow group members help you and your learning?
- What was the most challenging aspect of doing this work with a group?
Mr. Barton's students like this sort of reflection questions because they know their teacher takes their feedback seriously and cares about how they feel their learning is going.
Reflection Questions as Self-Assessment
Ms. Lazar is a math teacher and asks self-assessment reflection questions because she is really interested in how students rate their own learning. When they finish a unit in her math class, she routinely asks her students to answer the following questions:
- What strengths do you think you showed in this unit?
- What struggles did you encounter in this unit?
- What grade and comments would you give yourself for your work in this unit, and why?
After her students have answered these questions, Ms. Lazar confers with them individually to discuss how her assessment compares with their own. She then plans for subsequent units using information from the students' reflections.
Reflecting on learning is actually a really important and helpful way to make the most of it. Process reflection questions, product reflection questions, reflection questions intended as feedback, and reflection questions intended as self-assessment can all enrich students' learning and feeling that they are contributing to their own experience of school.