Value of Reflection

The importance in Service Learning Pedagogy

Service-learning project crewAs John Dewey pointed out, it is reflection that makes an experience educational.  According to Janet Eyler, successful reflection activities embody the four Cs:  Continuous, Connected, Challenging, and Contextualized.

Continuous:   Reflection needs to be on-going.  Employing reflective activities simply as a formative assessment is not adequate to address the continual learning taking place in a service-learning context.

Connected:  Reflection should link classroom learning with real world experience.  Making this connection visible to the student provides a powerful learning experience.

Challenging:  Even formative assessments fail if they don’t challenge students to think critically.  Assessment needs to delve deeper than simply accounting for their hours and experiences.

Contextualized:  Reflection activities move the student's mindset from doing to thinking. Effective implementation of reflective learning must be relevant to the student’s service-learning experience while appropriate to the type of work s/he is doing.  The closer aligned the reflective activities are to the service-learning assignment the more likely the student will see its value.