*Some Methods of Reflection

Guided reflection: incorporates journal writing with group discussions. Students are given questions to consider independently and write about in their journals. After some writing and reflection, the students return to the large group to discuss their thoughts. This type of reflection allows much room for creativity and innovation, although effective facilitation requires faculty to develop the learning objectives for these reflections beforehand. The following is an example of guided reflection for “appreciating differences.”

  • Place yourself in the position of the participant you are working with.
  • Identify and list three points of difference between him/her and you.
  • List three areas of commonality.
  • What do you think are the qualities, personality traits, or preferences that person would like you to be aware of about him/herself?
  • How would you say that person views the time you spend with him/her?
  • How do you think you can gain a better understanding of the person you are serving? How can you better understand their values and beliefs?

Journal writing:
Students should write something in their journals daily, perhaps a new lesson plan for tutoring elementary students, or perhaps an observation of an agency experience, including personal feelings or reactions to their involvement, observations about themselves or others, and their values regarding their service. To be an effective reflection activity, the journal should be connected either to academic objectives (with service-learning classes), to the details of the project, or to the volunteers’ personal development. Journals can be divided into two sections: one for listing plans for carrying out the service project; the other to record what the students’ learning that day on site.

Reflection papers: Sometimes the connection between the students’ experiences and academic concepts is not obvious to them, making journal writing difficult. Pat Arnold, Janet Eyler and Dwight Giles of Vanderbilt University have experimented with designing a Reflection paper format for service-learning classes to help students connect their service experiences to the course work. The authors state… {the process} has worked well to help more students make the leap from more superficial and idiosyncratic explanations of group dynamics to more educated and insightful understanding of the process at work in group situations.”

*Adapted from Campus Compact “Establishing and Sustaining an Office of Community Service”