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Reflection in Service Learning

Reflection in Service Learning

What is reflection’s role in service-learning? Reflection is a key component of service-learning; in fact, reflection is the link between the service and the learning. Reflection is the intentional consideration of an experience in light of particular learning objectives. The presumption is that community service does not necessarily, in and of itself, produce learning. Reflection activities provide the bridge between the community service activities and the academic content of the course. Reflection activities direct the student’s attention to new 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.

When should reflection take place? Reflection activities can be incorporated before, during, and after the service experience. Reflection activities prior to service can focus on helping students anticipate what their service experience will be like and what assumptions they are bringing into the situation. Reflection during and after the service experience help students understand the actual outcome of their experience in relation to the course content.

How should reflection sessions be structured? For reflection to be effective, outcomes should be specified explicitly and precisely. If outcomes are too broad, it may be difficult to devise appropriate reflection activities and to develop appropriate assessment techniques. Reflection questions can direct the students towards understanding themselves, the population they are serving, the social issue driving their service activity, and the relationship between the service and the academic content of the course.

Issue-focused questions:

  • Why is there a need for your service?
  • What do you perceive as the underlying issue, and why does it exist?
  • What social, economic, political, and educational systems are maintaining and perpetuating the situation?
  • What can you do with the knowledge you gained from this experience to promote change?

Client-focused reflection questions:

  • What similarities do you perceive between you and the people you are serving?
  • How are you perceived by the people you are serving?
  • What do you think a typical day is like for the people you serve? What pressures to they confront?

Self-focused reflection questions:

  • What personal qualities (e.g. leadership, communication skills, empathy etc.) have you developed through service-learning?
  • What contribution can you make to public understanding of this issue based on your service-learning experience?
  • In what ways are you finding your involvement with service-learning difficulty? What have you found that is helping you follow through despite the difficulties you encounter?

Course-focused reflection questions:

  • How does the service experience relate to the course material?
  • Did the experience contradict or reinforce course material?
  • How did the course material help you overcome obstacles or dilemmas in the service-experience?
  • What aspects of your learning may have been due to your service-experience?

References

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Eyler, J., Giles, D., & Schmiede, A. (1996). A Practitioner’s Guide to Reflection in Service-Learning: Student Voices and Reflections. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

Goldsmith, S. (1995). Journal ReflectionA Resource Guide for Community Service Leaders and Educators Engaged in Service-Learning. Washington, DC: The American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities.

See Also

Advocates for Community Engagement

For More Help or Information

Advocates for Community Engagement (ACEs) are available to lead in-class reflection sessions for IUB instructors.  Schedule an ACE to lead a reflection session in your course.

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Service Learning Reflection Paper and Presentation Description


Service Learning Reflection Paper and
Presentation


Think about these sorts of things
as you put together your reflection paper and presentation.


·        
Your expectations, hopes and concerns before you
began your service


·        
Discuss your experiences. What happened? Did you
notice any patterns?


·        
What challenges did you face? What about the
experience was great?


·        
Analyze your experience and reflect about how it
did or didn’t meet your expectations.


·        
After you’re finished, consider the group you
helped again. Does it achieve its mission? Does it reflect the values it claims
to have? What does the group do well? What could it do better?


·        
How did doing this service affect you as a
student and a person?


·        
What did you learn about yourself and about the
world?


 


Format and hints


·        
Type and double-space your paper. Your paper
will be between three and five pages.


·        
Follow traditional essay format. Include things
like a title, introduction, conclusion and thesis.


·        
Use concrete examples from your experience to
illustrate your points.


·        
Write clearly. Be concise.


·        
Your paper will be about three pages long.


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Reflection

“Democracy is the art of thinking independently together.” Alexander Meiklejohn

Reflection is a key component of service learning, and is that component which distinguishes service learning from volunteerism. Reflection provides faculty the means to assess the experiential learning that occurs when students participate in service activities outside the classroom. Reflection also allows students to synthesize the observed data gleaned from service activities and connect the new knowledge with the formal knowledge obtained from classroom activities and materials.

To reflect in service learning means to think critically about and analyze emotional responses to service activities in the context of course content and the learning objectives of a particular course or curriculum. It is important to incorporate structured reflection so that students develop a deeper understanding of course subject matter outside of the traditional classroom environment. Reflection can promote; interpersonal communication, problem solving skills, self-awareness, a sense of civic responsibility, and a sense of belonging.

Effective reflection:

  • links service to course objectives and fosters civic responsibility
  • occurs throughout the course and not just at the end
  • is structured, guided, purposeful, with well-defined criteria for evaluation
  • challenges current realities, perhaps creating cognitive dissonance and/or conflict; see
  • goes beyond the descriptive nature of the experience and asks students to interpret and
    evaluate the relevance of their experience in relation to classroom knowledge with real-life service experience
  • asks students to apply new information to real-life problems and situations

Types of Reflection

The sample questions below are meant to give you an idea of how reflection may be structured in your classroom.

Group Discussions

Discussions can occur in several small groups or as one large group. NOTE: Should you have time discussions held at placement sites are equally valuable.

Reflection questions for the beginning of the semester

  • Examples for the beginning of the semester (may be used in journaling assignments as well):
  • What is the identified problem/community need?
  • How is your community partner site addressing that need?
  • Why are you needed?
  • What are some of your perceptions or beliefs about the population you will be serving?
  • What fear, if any, do you have about working in the community?
  • What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Reflection questions during the semester

  • How does your service learning experience relate to the learning objectives of the course?
  • What did you do at your site since the last reflection discussion?
  • What did you observe?
  • What did you learn?
  • What has worked? What hasn’t?
  • What do you think is (will be) the most valuable service you can offer at your site?
  • Is there something more you could do to contribute to the solution?

Reflection questions toward the end of the semester

  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What have  you learned about your community?
  • What have you contributed to the community site?
  • What values, opinions, beliefs have changed?
  • What was the most important lesson learned
  • How have you been challenged?
  • What should others do about this issue?
  • What impact did you have on the community?

Journaling

Journaling offers students an opportunity to practice writing, analyze and articulate their service experience and record and document their progress toward their learning objectives. Each of the questions above can also be incorporated into a journaling assignment.

Examples of a journaling assignment:

  • In small groups or individually have students conduct a community scan. A community scan allows students to describe the community where they will be working. Have students take a drive or walk around the community and describe what they see. For example, have the students take notes of the people (age, gender, ethnicity, etc), activities and problems (e.g., litter, pollution, graffiti, homelessness) and where it is located. Count the number of businesses, government agencies, housing units, churches, etc. 

When the community scan is finished have students reflect on the following (can be done as an in class discussion) recording their answers in their journals.

  • What are the best things you discovered about your community?
  • Do you have a different picture of your community than you had before you began your search?
  • What new questions do you have?
  • What would you like to change about your community?    

Examples of journaling assignment questions:

  • Describe your service-learning project. Include a description of the agency or organization you will be working for (i.e. what is their purpose? How big are they? What is their history? What is their mission? What are their goals?).
  • How is your service-learning experience related to the readings, discussions, and lectures in class?
  • How does the service-learning experience connect to your long-term goals?
  • What new skills have you learned since beginning your service?
  • What have you done this week to make a difference?
  • What characteristics make a community successful?
  • Report a civic experience you have had in the past. Include comments about what type of difference you made to those you served. How did you feel about your service? What if any attitudes or beliefs changed for you as a result of your service?
  • Describe what you have learned about yourself as a result of your service.
      

Papers

A final paper or several small papers throughout the semester may be an alternative to journaling.

Example: Describe the community site where you served, including the site’s mission and goals. What were your duties and responsibilities at the site? How has this experience changed your value and belief system? How has your service affected your own sense of civic responsibility? Explain why your service was important to you and the service learning site.

Portfolios

This is a way to present a collection of information obtained throughout the semester. It may include portions of a journal, pictures, poems, community site information, brochures etc. Portfolios can be presented formally or handed in at the end of the semester.

Presentations

This medium can be used to showcase a community site and can be accomplished in a large group, several small groups or individually.

Need More Reflection Ideas?

For more valuable reflection ideas and designs please click on the following links:

  • Northwest Service Reflection Toolkit  ( PDF , 502KB)
  • Campus Compact – Structured Reflection

 

Related Pages

  • CCE Home

Back to Top ↑
©

  • Skip to Content
  • Accessible Browsing Information

California State University Channel Islands

Menu

Reflection

“Democracy is the art of thinking independently together.” Alexander Meiklejohn

Reflection is a key component of service learning, and is that component which distinguishes service learning from volunteerism. Reflection provides faculty the means to assess the experiential learning that occurs when students participate in service activities outside the classroom. Reflection also allows students to synthesize the observed data gleaned from service activities and connect the new knowledge with the formal knowledge obtained from classroom activities and materials.

To reflect in service learning means to think critically about and analyze emotional responses to service activities in the context of course content and the learning objectives of a particular course or curriculum. It is important to incorporate structured reflection so that students develop a deeper understanding of course subject matter outside of the traditional classroom environment. Reflection can promote; interpersonal communication, problem solving skills, self-awareness, a sense of civic responsibility, and a sense of belonging.

Effective reflection:

  • links service to course objectives and fosters civic responsibility
  • occurs throughout the course and not just at the end
  • is structured, guided, purposeful, with well-defined criteria for evaluation
  • challenges current realities, perhaps creating cognitive dissonance and/or conflict; see
  • goes beyond the descriptive nature of the experience and asks students to interpret and
    evaluate the relevance of their experience in relation to classroom knowledge with real-life service experience
  • asks students to apply new information to real-life problems and situations

Types of Reflection

The sample questions below are meant to give you an idea of how reflection may be structured in your classroom.

Group Discussions

Discussions can occur in several small groups or as one large group. NOTE: Should you have time discussions held at placement sites are equally valuable.

Reflection questions for the beginning of the semester

  • Examples for the beginning of the semester (may be used in journaling assignments as well):
  • What is the identified problem/community need?
  • How is your community partner site addressing that need?
  • Why are you needed?
  • What are some of your perceptions or beliefs about the population you will be serving?
  • What fear, if any, do you have about working in the community?
  • What do you hope to gain from this experience?

Reflection questions during the semester

  • How does your service learning experience relate to the learning objectives of the course?
  • What did you do at your site since the last reflection discussion?
  • What did you observe?
  • What did you learn?
  • What has worked? What hasn’t?
  • What do you think is (will be) the most valuable service you can offer at your site?
  • Is there something more you could do to contribute to the solution?

Reflection questions toward the end of the semester

  • What have you learned about yourself?
  • What have  you learned about your community?
  • What have you contributed to the community site?
  • What values, opinions, beliefs have changed?
  • What was the most important lesson learned
  • How have you been challenged?
  • What should others do about this issue?
  • What impact did you have on the community?

Journaling

Journaling offers students an opportunity to practice writing, analyze and articulate their service experience and record and document their progress toward their learning objectives. Each of the questions above can also be incorporated into a journaling assignment.

Examples of a journaling assignment:

  • In small groups or individually have students conduct a community scan. A community scan allows students to describe the community where they will be working. Have students take a drive or walk around the community and describe what they see. For example, have the students take notes of the people (age, gender, ethnicity, etc), activities and problems (e.g., litter, pollution, graffiti, homelessness) and where it is located. Count the number of businesses, government agencies, housing units, churches, etc. 

When the community scan is finished have students reflect on the following (can be done as an in class discussion) recording their answers in their journals.

  • What are the best things you discovered about your community?
  • Do you have a different picture of your community than you had before you began your search?
  • What new questions do you have?
  • What would you like to change about your community?    

Examples of journaling assignment questions:

  • Describe your service-learning project. Include a description of the agency or organization you will be working for (i.e. what is their purpose? How big are they? What is their history? What is their mission? What are their goals?).
  • How is your service-learning experience related to the readings, discussions, and lectures in class?
  • How does the service-learning experience connect to your long-term goals?
  • What new skills have you learned since beginning your service?
  • What have you done this week to make a difference?
  • What characteristics make a community successful?
  • Report a civic experience you have had in the past. Include comments about what type of difference you made to those you served. How did you feel about your service? What if any attitudes or beliefs changed for you as a result of your service?
  • Describe what you have learned about yourself as a result of your service.
      

Papers

A final paper or several small papers throughout the semester may be an alternative to journaling.

Example: Describe the community site where you served, including the site’s mission and goals. What were your duties and responsibilities at the site? How has this experience changed your value and belief system? How has your service affected your own sense of civic responsibility? Explain why your service was important to you and the service learning site.

Portfolios

This is a way to present a collection of information obtained throughout the semester. It may include portions of a journal, pictures, poems, community site information, brochures etc. Portfolios can be presented formally or handed in at the end of the semester.

Presentations

This medium can be used to showcase a community site and can be accomplished in a large group, several small groups or individually.

Need More Reflection Ideas?

For more valuable reflection ideas and designs please click on the following links:

  • Northwest Service Reflection Toolkit  ( PDF , 502KB)
  • Campus Compact – Structured Reflection

 

Related Pages

  • CCE Home

Back to Top ↑
©