Some students may wonder why there is such a focus on reflection. Reflection is not only about helping you remember what you learned, it is learning. The results from a Harvard Business School study confirm that reflection is essential to learning. A study was done with two groups of people. Both groups were given a test. One group was asked to write down strategies that would be helpful in a future test. The other group was not. The group that reflected performed significantly better (Christensen, n.d., para. 5). You can follow the link below to read more and also follow a link to the study itself.
Reflection serves two main purposes. By reflecting on content again, you are helping it move from short term to long term memory. Connecting learning to how you will use it in your field helps it become more relevant. Also, by reflecting on strategies, you are becoming a stronger learner. This process is also known as metacognition, which is thinking about thinking. This sounds really academic, but it means asking questions like “Did I study enough? Did I study effectively? What can I do differently next time?”
While courses are structured to encourage reflection, students will get the most benefit by putting reflection into action. At the end of session, many students say they will log in to the course on Sunday to look at the week’s assignments, or begin assignments sooner. Obviously, this knowledge is only valuable for students who actually implement these strategies.
Even beyond courses, the habit of reflection is part of being a successful professional. In the workplace, there will be approaches to procedures. Taking the time occasionally to examine whether or not a process could be improved is valuable. Also, after a problem arises, reflecting afterwards can help prevent the same issue from occurring. This would be asking questions like “Is email the most effective way to handle this issue? Should a manager have been alerted sooner? “ An article titled “Understanding Yourself and Increasing Your Professional Value through Self-Reflection” offers some additional insight on what it looks like to reflect in the workplace and why the skill is valuable. Read about it here: http://intercom.stc.org/2014/01/understanding-yourself-and-increasing-your-professional-value-through-self-reflection/
By taking full advantage of the opportunity to reflect and make changes based on those reflections, you will be able to present that critical thinking skill to future employers in an interview. Reflection is one more skill to set you apart from other candidates!