Critical Reflection Idea Bank | Expanding the Professoriate QEP Pilot

Example prompts for reflection | Useful scholarship

What is critical reflection?

"[T]he intentional consideration of an experience in light of particular learning objectives" (Hatcher & Bringle, 1997, p. 153).

"When understood in this light and designed accordingly, reflection becomes 'critical reflection.' It generates learning (articulating questions, confronting bias, examining causality, contrasting theory with practice, pointing to systemic issues), deepens learning (challenging simplistic conclusions, inviting alternative perspectives, asking 'why' iteratively), and documents learning (producing tangible expressions of new understandings for evaluation) (Ash & Clayton, 2009a and 2009b; Whitney & Clayton, in press)" (Ash & Clayton, 2009, p. 27).

Why incorporate opportunities for reflection into applied learning projects and experiences?

"[R]eflection possesses certain benefits, including opportunities to infuse students' subjective experiences, thoughts, and feelings into the content-oriented coursework" (Molee et al., 2010, p. 240-241).

"In summary, service-learning involves a combination of cognitive, affective and practical aspects which are connected and drawn together through critical reflection. This study has been an example of a course that involved: challenging assumptions; raising consciousness; participating in critical discourse; sharing experiences; and nurturing trust in the 'learning community' of small classes" (Deeley, 2010, p. 51).

What are best practices for developing prompts to facilitate productive student reflections?

"When it is well designed, reflection promotes significant learning, including problem-solving skills, higher order reasoning, integrative thinking, goal clarification, openness to new ideas, ability to adopt new perspectives, and systemic thinking (Eyler & Giles, 1999; Conrad & Hedin, 1987)" (Ash & Clayton, 2009, p. 27).

"The DEAL Model is a three-step process that moves students from (a) Describing their service-learning experience, to (b) Examining this experience in light of specified learning objectives for academic enhancement, personal growth, and civic engagement, to (c) Articulating their Learning in their reflections" (Molee et al., 2010, p. 241).

Prompts for reflection

"A critical reflection process that generates, deepens, and documents learning does not occur automatically—rather, it must be carefully and intentionally designed" (Ash & Clayton, 2009, p. 27).

General prompts to customize

Example prompts for reflections on assignments

Manipulating graphics assignment (includes brief reflection)

Example prompts for experiences/projects/internships

Writing internship prompts

Spanish 490: Service-learning and research

Description of reflection

Midterm reflection

Final reflection

Useful scholarship

Ash, Sarah L., & Clayton, Patti H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 1, 25-48. Retrieved on September 30, 2011, from

Brooks, Evelyn, Harris, Crystal R., & Clayton, Patti H. (2010). Deepening applied learning: An enhanced case study approach using critical reflection. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 2, 55-76. Retrieved on September 30, 2011, from

Callens, Jean Claude, & Elen, Jan. (2011). The impact of approaches to reflection and learner control upon critical reflection. Reflective Practice, 12 (4), 495-506.

Deeley, Susan J. (2010). Service-learning: Thinking outside the box. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11 (1), 43-53.

Hatcher, Julie A., & Bringle, Robert G. (1997). Reflection: Bridging the gap between service and learning. College Teaching, 45 (4), 153-158.

Jordi, Richard. (2010). Reframing the concept of reflection: Consciousness, experiential learning, and reflective learning practices. Adult Education Quarterly, 61 (2), 181-197.

Krause, Ulrike-Marie, & Stark, Robin. (2010). Reflection in example- and problem-based learning: Effects of reflection prompts, feedback and cooperative learning. Evaluation & Research in Education, 23 (4), 255-272.

Molee, Lenore M., Henry, Mary E., Sessa, Valerie I., & McKinney-Prupis, Erin R. (2010). Assessing learning in service-learning courses through critical reflection. Journal of Experiential Education, 33 (3), 239-257.

Williams, Lillian. (2010). Assessment of student learning through journalism and mass communication internships. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 2, 23-38. Retrieved on September 30, 2011, from

Other resources

Angelo, Thomas A., & Cross, K. Patricia. (1993). Teaching goals inventory. Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers. Jossey-Bass. Retrieved on October 23, 2011, from

Baltimore County Public Schools. Sentence starters for your learning log. Retrieved on October 23, 2011, from

University of Delaware's Undergraduate Research Program. (2011). Prompts (questions) for students. Undergraduate Research Program Eportfolio Project. Retrieved on October 23, 2011, from