reflective learning

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This week, as a staff, we talked about the importance of encouraging our learners to be reflective. This is another of the pillars of the IB learner profile which we try to ensure informs our approach as a school to learning and teaching.

Sheffield University on reflective learning…..

“Reflective learning is a way of allowing students to step back from their learning experience to help them develop critical thinking skills and improve on future performance by analysing their experience. This type of learning, which helps move the student from surface to deep learning, can include a range of activities, including self-review, peer review, and Personal Development Planning.

Understanding assessment criteria and acting on feedback is also a way of encouraging students to reflect on what they have learned and how they will improve. This can be useful for Personal and Academic Support Tutors in discussing for example, how students can make the best use of feedback. Peer review is another means which allows students to reflect initially on another student’s work or contribution and in turn reflect on their own experience.”

Manchester University on reflective learning….

“There are various definitions of "reflective learning" and much has been written on the subject. Nevertheless, it is generally understood that reflection as it applies to learning is a skill that can be summarised as:

  • the ability to look back over an experience and break it down into its significant aspects, such as any factors affecting success or failure
  • a means of learning by making links between theory and practice (or learning and action)
  • a means of improving performance, by using the outcome of reflection to inform future practice
  • a way of recognising, and maximising the personal value of, a learning experience
  • a way of turning surface learning into deep learning

Notice that both highlight deep learning as a major benefit of reflection; that is learning that is securely embedded and likely to sustain itself over time and provide a good foundation for building future learning upon. When you plan for your students to be reflective on a regular basis youi will begin to see some of them become metacognitive, meaning the are able to both engage in a task and reflect on how they are doing so almost simultaneously;. This is a really high order thinking skill because it allows the leaner to adjust their approach in the moment….to observers these students look like intuitive learners but actually it is a skill that they have learned through practice.

And by the way, in my experience. The very best treachers are reflective and metacognitive. They are constantly analysing the success of what they are doing and adjusting….many of the outstanding lessons that I have observed have been the result of a teacher reflecting on the learning, realizing that the way she had planned it wasn’t working and in the moment abandoning that approach for a new one….




date authored: 

Friday 18th March 2016 Africa/Kampala


School Director - Steve Lang