Provoking Reflection

Reflection can be very challenging. It’s not something that is typically fostered in schools, as usually someone (most likely the teacher) tells you how you’re doing. Students often become so reliant on the teacher for feedback that the ability to be introspective about their learning is very difficult. It’s almost a completely foreign idea to them. Most students can simply describe what they did or what they learned. They have a hard time thinking abstractly about their learning – to understand and see patterns, connections and progress. For student reflection to be worthwhile, it must be metacognitive, applicable and shared. As teachers, one of our responsibilities is to ignite this reflective thinking in our students. To give them the ability to experience growth as learners through meaningful reflection. As Donald Finkel wrote, teaching should be thought of as, “providing experience, provoking reflection.”

Reflection is what helps us to grow – personally, academically and professionally. Without it, there is little hope for improvement.

The Taxonomy of Reflection, developed by Peter Pappas, provides a good framework for helping both students and teachers to become more contemplative. It is aligned with Bloom’s Taxonomy and gives questions for each level to prompt students to develop metacognitive skills and to help us to examine our own teaching practice.

Additional questions for the higher levels of reflection:

Create – Student: How can I best use my strengths to improve? What steps should I take or resources should I use to meet my challenges? Teacher: How would I incorporate the best aspects of this lesson in the future? What changes would I make to correct areas in need of improvement?

Evaluate – Student: What have I learned about my strengths and my areas in need of improvement? How am I progressing as a learner? Teacher: What are we learning and why is it important? How am I progressing as a teacher?

Analyze – Student: Were the strategies, skills and procedures I used effective for this assignment? Do I see patterns in how I approached my work? Teacher: Did I use the right instructional strategies for this assignment? Do I see patterns in my teaching style?

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