Reflection Questions for Students

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  • 0:01 Reflection Basics
  • 1:02 Models of Reflection
  • 2:16 Reflection Questions
  • 3:07 Applying Reflection in…
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

This lesson provides a basic overview of the reflection process and includes questions that will prompt students to begin the reflection process. In addition, tips are given to help teachers assist students to begin thinking reflectively.

Reflection Basics

A teacher asks her students, 'How do you feel about that?' regarding a certain experience or situation.

Their response may be something like, 'Really? Do I honestly have to answer that question? I can't tell you what I ate for breakfast, much less how I feel about something we're doing in class!'

Have you gotten this feedback from your students when asking them to reflect on something academic? Or rather, the infamous blank stare or eye roll? Asking students to reflect can be a difficult process. If educators, are not well-versed on what that process should look like, they can find themselves at a loss in how to guide students in that direction.

Reflective thinking, in fact, is not an easy process. It relies on the constructivist approach to education, which, in a nutshell, is a process of meaning-making that rests with the student. In other words, in order to reflect, students have to make their own meaning from the cues around them, and be able to assimilate their thoughts into that meaning.

Models of Reflection

There are several models of reflection that have been widely used and well researched. One is John's Model of Reflection (1995), which includes basic questions such as:

  • What are my feelings on the current situation?
  • How does this connect with similar experiences?
  • What can I do to better this situation?

See, it is more than a general 'how do you feel?' process. These questions actually help to guide the student on a reflective journey, and the good thing is, they can be used in almost any situation - real or imagined.

Another model of reflection is Gibbs' Model of Reflection (1988). Unlike only presenting certain key questions, the Gibbs Model is a process that includes five key steps:

  1. A description of the situation: What happened?
  2. Feelings: What were your thoughts and feelings in this situation?
  3. Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience?
  4. Description: What sense can you make of the situation?
  5. Action Plan: If this happened again, what would you do?

Again, we are going far beyond the identification of feelings here and are doing some really evaluative thinking. This is great in the classroom because it encourages students to think on a higher level and to do more than regurgitate the material they have been taught.

Reflection Questions

In addition to the previously-mentioned models, there are scores of questions that teachers can ask to elicit reflective responses from their students. Here are a few general questions that could be applied to almost any topic:

  • Did you know anything about the topic before? What have you learned after this lesson?
  • Has learning about this topic challenged your philosophies and beliefs? Has it opened up new perspectives?
  • How can what you are learning apply to your current life, or your future dream career?
  • How does what you are learning relate to the world on a bigger scale? To you, your friends, your community, your state, your country, your entire world?

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