Goal Setting, DEAL Model Diagram & Critical Reflection Assignment

Goal Setting for Critical Reflection

One critical goal for reflection is to help students make connections between the project/service activity and coursework.  Reflection can be used to help students understand how to apply course knowledge to projects, and to assimilate and link the experience back to course work.  By incorporating such reflection, students gain a deeper understanding of the course material.  At the same time, the quality of the experience is enhanced if students are encouraged to reflect upon the responsible use disciplinary knowledge in their service/research settings.

Another goal for structured reflection is the development or refinement of critical thinking skills such as being able to identify issues, being receptive to new or different ideas, and foreseeing the consequences of one's actions.

Structured reflection can reinforce and foster a range of competencies identified in research/service, including communication and teamwork skills, self-understanding, leadership and public problem solving. These are skills and competencies critical to students' ethical development, future career aspirations and civic responsibility.

Regardless of the outcomes emphasized in a particular project, the reflection process must be structured to reinforce specific educational outcomes/goals that faculty have identified as critical in the course.  For example, if critical thinking is a goal, then faculty must design reflective exercises that help students understand the uncertainties inherent in the project, identify a range of possibilities for addressing those uncertainties, and examine these possibilities from the perspective of different stakeholders.  Instructors cannot assume that the experience will automatically result in enhanced problem-solving skills; an intentional, ongoing process is required for coaching students and helping them acquire those skills.

Once the general categories of learning and their associated learning goals have been determined, the instructional designer’s next task is to express the learning goals as assessable learning objectives.  Goals such as “students will learn about project management” (internship), “students will understand the challenges facing schools in their attempts to implement education policies” (service-learning), “students will appreciate the similarities as well as the differences between their home and host cultures” (study abroad), or “students will understand the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods” (undergraduate research) which can be difficult to translate into effective pedagogical practice.

Instructors, as well as the programs that support them, have a range of desired learning outcomes that underlie their use of any particular applied learning pedagogy (or combination of them).  Most faculty use experiences such as service-learning to help their students engage more effectively with the content of the course or the perspective of the discipline, while also learning about citizenship and about themselves as individuals.   In other words, they use service to the community to help students learn at least in the general categories of academic enhancement, civic learning, and personal growth.

These categories can apply to other applied learning pedagogies as well, along with additional ones such as intercultural learning (particularly relevant in study abroad), professional development (especially for internships), and research skill development (in undergraduate research).  Critical thinking might be seen as its own category of outcomes or as a dimension of other categories; additional meta-level outcomes related to learning processes might include emotional intelligence or the ability to make connections between ideas.

Referenced from:
http://www.compact.org/disciplines/reflection/faq/goals.html http://community.vcu.edu/media/community-engagement/pdfs/AshandClayton.pdf


DEAL Model Diagram (click for full size)

Deal Model Diagram

Exercises and Assignments:

  1. Critical Reflection Assignment Form (Guide for Faculty): Using the DEAL Model for Experiential Learning
  2. Critical Reflection Assignment Form (Handout for Students): Using the DEAL Model for Experiential Learning
  3. Goal Setting Exercise for Critial Reflection