Reflective Writing

“Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous.”

-Confucius

ePortfolio is a vehicle for reflective and integrative thinking, for learners to examine their own development of knowledge and skills, and to measure their progress and their goals across time and across disciplines. What are the meanings of the work that they have chosen to display in their ePortfolio? What kind of value does it have for them?  What did they learn from the work they did? What questions did they ask? What new questions emerged from their learning? How did their previous knowledge or experience affect what they learned or how they learned?

Answering these kinds of reflective questions, and including these answers in their ePortfolios, will strengthen students’ academic skills, their ability to continue their education, and their understanding of their educational experiences.

Ideally, reflective writing will be an integral part of the assignments and graded as part of that assignment. If you are uncomfortable grading reflective writing, you don’t have to, but you should probably then assign some “completion points” for when the student turns in the reflective writing. You may also read and comment on reflective writing without grading it.

Tips and examples of reflective writing prompts:

  • Tip: Incorporate prompts that solicit a few paragraphs of reflective writing into the assignment(s). The prompts can be about the assignment process or about what students learned overall in the course.
  • Tip: Give students a choice of prompts to which they can respond in their reflective writing, and make your expectations clear.
  • Example: How does your performance on this assignment demonstrate achievement of–or progress toward learning outcomes?
  • Example: How does this assignment (or this course) connect with what you learned in other courses?
  • Example: What impact did the assignment have on you or your understanding of the topic? What do you understand about the topic now that you did not understand at the beginning?
  • Example: What process did you go through to complete the assignment? [This can be particularly interesting if the assignment involved many steps or collaboration between several students]
  • Example: What challenges did you face in completing the assignment? How did you address them?
  • Example: Why did you pick this assignment to put in your ePortfolio? What does it demonstrate about your learning? [Assumes that instructor has given students a choice of assignments to include in the ePortfolio]
  • Example: How did participation in this service-learning partnership (internship, group project, etc.) help you better understand how the main concepts in this course apply to your life or community?
  • Example: How do(es) the assignment(s) illustrate the growth/change/progression you have had in this class?

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