Active self-reflection promotes meaningful learning

What is active self-reflection?

Self-reflection is the process of examining, linking, and developing meaning from our experiences to gain understanding of ourselves and the world around us. This occurs naturally, like when we look back on an experience and consider what we would have done differently or what we learned from it. Active self-reflection is when we make a concerted effort to cultivate self-reflection as a skill through regular application and practice.

Why is this important in the classroom?

Visualize a student, at any age, as they go about their daily school routine. Moving from classroom to classroom, engaging in lessons, completing assignments and working with peers. What if, for the last 5-10 minutes of each class, they were instructed to reflect on the lesson they participated in or the graded assignment that was just returned to them? Instead of accepting the B they received on their project and going about the rest of their day, they would be asked to consider what they could have done differently, or what part of the project they would like to explore more deeply.

This practice encourages critical thinking and cultivates a strong sense of awareness about oneself and what they have learned. In just 5-10 minutes, participants gain insight into their strengths, challenges and interests. Studies show that practices like this also increase knowledge retention.[1] Active self-reflection stimulates creativity – a new way of looking at things, and that leads to growth. It builds stronger problem-solving skills which in turn, lead to greater confidence.

When a student reflects on their accomplishments and the opportunities for improvement, they are seeing a path to take on future challenges. Each learning experience becomes more meaningful and more productive.

Over time, the more actively one practices self-reflection, the more automatic it becomes. The active self-reflection practice that happens in school, starts to happen in social situations, at home, on the field and other extracurricular activities, and beyond.