Reflection is thinking about a
service experience in order to connect the service
experience and the course material. Although one can
reflect alone, it is important to share perceptions with
others who may have interpreted the experience very
differently or made different connections. Learning
comes through thinking about what we do, not by just
doing, nor by just thinking.
Reflection is not only a means to integrate service and
course theory, it is also critical in challenging or
reinforcing conclusions which grow out of experience.
Students may find their assumptions or philosophies
challenged through service-learning and may need to hear
other opinions to help understand their experience.
Through discussions in an open forum, a student can
consider his/her own experience and conclusions in a
broader context. Without thinking about the experience,
the service may do more harm than good, especially if it
reinforces inaccurate stereotypes.
Effective reflection goes
beyond the application of concepts learned in the
classroom. It promotes good citizenship. Most university
and college mission statements include fostering
responsible, participating citizens. Reflection can help
make the connection between the current experience and
broader issues of citizen involvement and action.
Adapted from Bonar, L,
Buchanan, R, Fisher, I, & Wechsler, A.
Service-Learning in the Curriculum: A Faculty Guide to
Course Development. Lowell Bennion Community Service
Center, University of Utah. 1996.
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