Defining Feature #3 (Section 2)

Reflection on Accumulated Content and Experiences

(cf) Provides the opportunity for demonstration of the student's mastery of content, reflection on accumulated content and experiences, and the integration and application of critical thinking skills.

This feature highlights the idea that at the end of a program of study, students should master a level of metacognition which means they are capable of thinking about their own thinking. Students gain insight into how they process information and how information informs problem solving and decision-making in novel situations.


In today's work, college student must not merely be competent, rather they also need to be capable to adapt, analyze, and synthesize knowledge, tranfering to new context. Reflection on one's accumulated knowledge can provide students with critical skills to be able to put into practice these processes. Reflection is the "hyphen" in the active-learning process. It helps students connect their experience and their bits of knowledge altogether.

Reflection provides students with ownership in the learning process. Ongoing reflection allows the instructor to take the pulse to understand what concepts students do and do not grasp. Allowing the students a voice through reflection allows the instructor an opportunity to improve instruction to be intentional in focus to meet the diverse needs of the students. The process of reflection also deepens the level of understanding on the part of the students.

Stephen Brookfield (1995), in Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, describes critical reflection as a process of "hunting assumptions." He defines assumptions as "the taken for granted beliefs about the world, and our place within it, that seem so obvious to us as not to need to be stated explicitly" and classifies assumptions into three categories: paradigmatic, prescriptive, and causal. In relation to the CUE, reflection provides the critical opportunity for students to comprehend more fully the ways that they are constructing meanings and deepens their capacity to transfer knowledge.

Best Practices Examples

  1. Stephen Brookfield designed the "Classroom Critical Incident Questionnaire" as a quick tool to give students moments to pause, reflect, and synthesize their learning experiences. href="">See his version of the questionnaire.
  2. A portfolio, and a reflective dimension of one's portfolio and work, provides greater "self-understanding" and is part of the learning process and can be for students and faculty who choose to use portfolios. See for example Jonthan Mueller's web resource for ideas on portfolio development for specific courses or for specific curricula.
  3. The i2a Task Group' CUE subcommittee has developed a set of questions to provide students with reflection on their CUEs. This document is titled, "CUE Student Reflection." These are available electronically.

Further Reading and References

  • Ash, S. & Clayton, P. (2009). "Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning." Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education 1: 25-48.
  • Ash, S.L., Clayton, P.H. (2004). The articulated learning: An approach to guided reflection and assessment. InnovativeHigher Education, 29(2), 137-154.
  • Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 90 (Summer 2001), 9-18.
  • Brockbank, A. & McGill, I. (1998). Facilitating reflective learning in higher education. London, England: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
  • Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. New York: Jossey-Bass.
  • Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. New York: Heath & Co.
  • Eyler, J. (2001). "Creating your reflection map," New Directions for Higher Education 114: 35- 43.
  • Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fraser, S.W. and Greenhalgh. (2001). "Coping with complexity: educating for capability," BMJ 323: 799-803.
  • Glaser, B.G. & Strauss, A.L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: The strategies for qualitative research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.
  • Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning. New York: Prentice Hall.
  • Krueger, R.A. & Casey, M.A. (2001). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • McKeachie, W. (1999). McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers, 10th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Patton, M.Q. (2001). Qualitative research and evaluation methods, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Schon, D.A. (1991). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books.
  • Zubizeretta, J. (2009). The learning portfolio: Reflective practice for improving student learning. (particularly chapter 3). (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass).
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