A key ingredient for transforming a student’s experience with a community partner into learning is through reflection. Reflection occurs when students move from solely participating in an applied learning experience into a deeper understanding and thought. Reflection assignments/exercises should:

  • Connect to course content and be appropriate to the course and the materials being covered
  • Help your students in their own personal development (explore, develop, clarify their values)
  • Challenge your students and be structured like any other class assignment (description, expectation, and criteria for assessing the assignment/exercise
  • Occur throughout the entire applied learning experience (before, during, and after)
Assignment TypeReflection Assignment/Exercise Examples
Journals
  • Record of a student’s learning experience (before, during and after)
  • Entries are typically prompted by questions about course content
  • Responses include personal, factual and analytic content
  • Regular feedback from faculty help develop student thought process
Case Studies
  • Students analyze a situation and gain practice in decision making
  • Opportunity for students to think and plan experience
  • Faculty either develop case studies based on past applied learning projects/examples, published case students, and/or have students write a description of a situation they encountered while on site and the event that caused the dilemma
Portfolios
  • Students collect materials related to an applied learning experience
  • Students learn how to keep records as well as develop organizational skills
  • Items can include contracts, time logs, papers, annotated bibliographies, photographs, evaluations, brochures as well as a self-assessment essay integrating course material 
Essays
  • Formal examples of journal entries
  • Students describe and evaluate their experiences as well as integrate concepts and topics discussed in their course
  • Students select and answer questions provided by faculty  
Discussions
  • Typically incorporated during regular class time
  • Students share and listen to each other’s stories. Then identify solutions.
Presentations
  • Students describe their applied learning experience and integrate course content in a public format.
Research Paper
  • Students analyze their experience in a larger context in a more formal way
  • Students identify an issue that relates to their applied learning experience and research that issue. In the paper, students include their research, findings and any recommendations for future.
Directed Readings and Writings
  • Faculty assign readings and/or writing to complement the course
  • Readings/writings typically relate to the course content, the applied learning experience as well as civic engagement
  • Students address specific questions or develop questions