Core Elements of Reflection

Effective elements and strategies for fostering reflection are based on four core elements of reflection:

  1. Continuous
  2. Connected
  3. Challenging
  4. Contextualized

(Eyler and Giles 4 C’s of Reflection (1999))

Core Elements Definition:

  1. Continuous: The reflective process is implemented and maintained continuously before, during and after the experiential learning experience.  Reflection happens in many locations, in solitude and with others.
  2. Connected: the learning outcomes of the reflection activities are directly connected to the learning outcomes of the course or activity.  Reflection activities allow for "synthesizing action and thought."
  3. Challenging: learners are challenged to move from surface learning, to deeper and more critical thinking through the use of thought provoking strategies by the instructor, advisor, student leader, or community facilitator.
  4. Contextualized: reflection is contextualized when it "corresponds" to the course content, topics and experience in a meaningful way.  Reflection activities recognize the often short-term context in which a student is working, and does not ask them to develop pre-mature solutions to complex community challenges.

There are additional strategies/elements that assist the learner even further in developing strong and critical reflection pieces:

Mutually Beneficial: community partners/co-educators agree on the content and process of reflection activities and assignments. They create reflection activities that mutually benefit the student, the community partner and the faculty member.

Culturally Relevant/ Multi-Leveled: reflection activities draw on multiple ways of knowing, learning and expression.  Learning from the head, heart, gut, hands, and body are honored.  Students are asked to examine issues on multiple levels: personal, relationship, group/cultural, institutional/societal.

Supportive: it is possible that community partners may encounter uncomfortable feelings, it is important that they feel they are in a supportive and mutually respectful atmosphere where they can express their opinions, ideas and thoughts, become more aware of the impact of their perspectives on others, hear others’ opinions, and be open to challenging their own perspectives.

Modeled by All Partners: where faculty, community partners, and students participate in, model, and benefit from the reflection process.

Internally Focused: partners reflect on their own cultural identities in relation to each other and the impact those identities have on their service experiences and their perspectives.  Students reflect on the impact of their experience, on their view of themselves as community members, and as collaborative leaders in creating social change.

Clear: clear instructions, expectations, guidelines, and criteria for assessment and evaluation are provided.

Feedback-Rich: peers, community partners, and faculty provide thoughtful, on-going feedback that supports and challenges.

Referenced from: