The Importance of Reflection

During a summative assessment in traditional education, a student will usually do a test, write an essay, do an oral presentation, or complete an individual or group project to demonstrate their knowledge of the content delivered in the previous unit. The teacher then grades the assessment (with varying levels of feedback, depending on the teacher) and returns the assessment. The student looks at their achievement level (grade, percentage) and will maybe read through feedback given. The student or teacher then files the assessment, and the class continues on to the next unit at the end of which the process will repeat. Questions arise from this process:

  • Did the students really learn from any mistakes or problems encountered?
  • Can they identify what led them to those unsuccessful moments?
  • Are the students aware of what habits and frames of mind they used to be successful?
  • Can the students articulate and project into the future how they will use and apply the content and skills learned?

More often than not in traditional education, the answer to these questions would be “No.” In order to turn the answer to these questions to “Yes” a distinct and required reflection process needs to be put in place. Reflection is the process of thinking critically about one’s learning experience (both content and skills) and the thought processes used within the learning experience (metacognition).

Image Licensed from Shutterstock

Image Licensed from Shutterstock

Most students won’t reflect on their own. Reflection is a skill, so it’s something that needs to be taught and given time for in class. Many teachers are weary of giving time for reflection because it will take time away from covering more content; others just don’t see the value in it. There is incredible value in reflection, however, especially if one of our goals as educators is to develop life-long learners. Even if that means reducing the amount of content being covered, giving students time to reflect will benefit them more in the long-term.

The Atlantic recently published an article where an empirical research study about the importance of reflection was presented. The study found that participants who were given time to reflect scored 23 percent better on the end of training assessment than those who were not given time to reflect. If the process of reflection will improve a summative result by this much, it seems like a no-brainer to include reflection in the learning process.

Ideally, reflective processes would be done throughout an entire learning process and would be shaped by the mode of thinking taking place at the time. Reflection would go hand-in-hand with formative feedback the teacher is giving during the learning journey. Reflection could be both written or oral. It could be done in the moment alongside the teacher and/or it can be done in isolation where a student can sit and study her experience and thought processes more intimately, presenting her reflection through whatever medium is suited to the context.

Here are some reflection questions put together by the 21st Century Learning Academy and made available by Edutopia that can help both students and teachers frame a successful reflection process.

Reflection shouldn’t be a burden for the learner or the teacher. It should be a natural part of the learning process and students should understand its benefits. When built into the fabric of the learning experience, students will benefit from the process and put them on the road to being life-long learners.

Reading and Video Resources for (IB) Psychology

The below resources are ones I have my elective and IB Psychology students reference throughout the course for additional reading and research. These are professional sites with quality summaries and/or access to original research reports.

Below the reading resources are some video playlists I compiled that give nice overviews of concepts within each of the Levels of Analyses and the option in IB Psychology. The videos are short, yet effective in helping visualize the concepts in those units.

  • THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION – The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Tons of articles and research studies on all topics related to psychology.
  • THE BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY- The British equivalent of the APA.
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH ON THE NET - Provides links to known experiments on the internet that are psychologically related. They are organized by general topic area with the topic areas listed chronologically with the most recently added at the top.
  • ELECTRONIC JOURNALS AND PERIODICALS IN PSYCHOLOGY - An exhaustive list of psychology journals and periodicals. These journals are where you find original reports about psychological research studies (qualitative, quantitative, secondary reviews of literature, and meta-analyses).
  • PSYBLOG – Professionally written summaries of psychological research relating to everyday life.
  • PSYCH CENTRAL - Very thorough website with news, articles, and current research and issues in psychology.
  • THE PSYCHOLOGIST – The monthly publication of the British Psychological Society.
  • PSYCHOLOGY TODAY – Popular American magazine devoted to news, stories, and research related to psychology.
  • SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND – This is my favorite magazine related to psychology. Unfortunately, you only get previews of the articles here. You have to subscribe to get full access. It could be worth the subscription cost if you are thinking about majoring in psychology in university!

Biological Level of Analysis

Cognitive Level of Analysis

Sociocultural Level of Analysis

Abnormal Psychology

This post is cross-posted on the Pamoja Education Psychology Blog.


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