Oct 19
Using Reflection to Deepen Learning

Bloom’s Taxonomy graphically illustrates how learning increases in complexity as we demand more intensive work from our students. One of my favourite assignment types is reflective writing, which fits into the category second from the top. It is, arguably, more challenging learning, but that challenge comes with deep rewards – for both the students and the instructor.  Blooms newer.jpg

For example, in an assignment about their resume, I ask students not only to revise their document but also to write one paragraph about what changes they made and, importantly, why they made those changes. This causes them to justify their changes and, automatically, requires them to think critically and be reflective about their own work: “evaluate” on Bloom’s pyramid.

When I incorporate this activity into a course, I require that students use a claim + evidence pattern in their written response to demonstrate their critical thinking and their self-reflection. For example:

  • I improved my Skills section. [not acceptable]
  • I improved my Skills section by reducing the number of bullet points to 7 and tightening up the language of each bullet point to be more concise. [good]

I’ve used this technique successfully with students in a variety of programs and generally the feedback is positive. They appreciate that they are not simply completing a task for marks, but also reflecting on their learning and then describing it in a structured way. A bonus for me when facing a stack of documents to grade is that the assignments are much more interesting to read.

One important caveat: I give marks not for what the student says, but for their consistent use of the claim + evidence pattern in their statements. I’m not judging their thinking; I’m evaluating its rigour.


How about you? How do you incorporate higher levels of learning in your lesson plans? Do you have a specific assignment that others could use in their classes? Please sign in above and then post your comment below to share in the conversation.

Image Source: Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching


These are great ideas, Aman...

These are great ideas, Amanda! It's challenging for us to understand how students think and to focus on pushing their thinking to higher levels, but the rewards are great. If we can move students in this way, the benefits to them will be long lasting and will apply to all aspects of their lives.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 10/19/2018 9:14 AM

Amanda, thank you so much f...

Amanda, thank you so much for sharing this technique from your practice. In one of the courses I teach we also use reflection as part of the assessment of students' Service Learning. To be honest, I have used it more as a tool to ensure they did the Service Learning. In other words, what would they write about if they didn't do the Service Learning? However, I can use your claim + evidence instruction to help students articulate not just what they did, but what they learned from it and/or how they could use it their future. Thanks for sharing!
Picture Placeholder: Janine Carmichael
  • Janine Carmichael
 on 10/19/2018 1:57 PM

I love asking students to j...

I love asking students to justify their choices or decisions.  When we ask students decision-making questions they always tell me I cannot "grade their opinions."  I remind them that it is not their opinions that are being graded but their ability to use analytics to support their decisions.  Analyze - Evaluate - Create.
Picture Placeholder: Maria Vincenten
  • Maria Vincenten
 on 10/22/2018 8:46 AM

Oh, I'm so pleased that my ...

Oh, I'm so pleased that my post has been helpful! Let's keep the conversation going...
Picture Placeholder: Amanda  Le Rougetel
  • Amanda Le Rougetel
 on 10/23/2018 8:36 AM