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Encouraging reflective thought and action

Reflective thought and action involves coaching students to think critically about the information and ideas they encounter, and about their experiences.

Reflection is crucial for knowledge construction. It is also crucial if students are to become independent, self-regulating, lifelong learners.

Through reflection, students assimilate new learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and work out what actions they should take.

They will usually be required to articulate their reflective thinking in some way – for example, as entries in a diary or log, in group or whole-class discussion, or in a report or presentation.

Genuine reflection (as distinct from a superficial response) requires time. It also requires a supportive learning environment.

Questions that encourage reflection

Use questions that encourage reflection for inquiry learning, task design, modelling, and coaching:

  • What do you notice (in/about/when) ...?
  • What is the same and what is different in ...?
  • What makes you think that?
  • How would you approach the problem?
  • What are the main steps in this technique?
  • How could you simplify this issue for a client?
  • What is another way of …?
  • What are the pluses and minuses of these alternatives?
  • What would you think if ...?
  • Why do you think this is happening?
  • How would you define …?
  • What conclusions can you draw from …?
  • Why do you agree/disagree with …?
  • How might you explain …?
  • What patterns can you find?
  • If you were going to guess, what …?
  • Why do you think this teaching strategy was used?
  • How did this teaching strategy help you to learn?

Last updated September 13, 2012