Action Guide > Reflection


Reflection

Reflection is critical to successful and meaningful service-learning. Through reflection we increase our sensitivity to community issues and, in turn, increase our capacity to serve. Reflection is also a way to monitor service experiences. Through the discussion and interaction, participants feel both challenged and supported. It is especially beneficial to incorporate reflection into the preparation stage.

Reflection should take place throughout the service-learning process. Don’t just reflect at the end—reflect at the beginning, during the service experience, and upon completion of the initiative.

Reflection allows the students to create associations and memories from
multiple activities carried out during a learning period. Reflection must be age appropriate and multi-dimensional in order to respond to all the learning styles of the group. Reflection will demonstrate to students that they have learned from their service experience.

Reflection enables: learning from experience; seeing the connections to broader social and global issues; more motivated learning of subject material; higher-level thinking and problem solving; awareness of changes in oneself; clarification and internalization of values shaped by service; Jewish identity building; improved service; and improved programming.

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Educational Theory and Reflection

Kolb and Fry — The Learning Cycle
Educational philosophers David A. Kolb and Roger Fry argue that experiential learning, the type of learning that takes place through service-learning experiences, will only occur when four elements are present: concrete experience, observation and reflection on that experience, the formation of abstract concepts, and testing of those concepts in new situations. They represented these elements in the following model, which shows how learning takes place:


Kolb and Fry argue that the learning cycle can begin at any one of the four points - and that it should really be approached as a continuous spiral. However, it is suggested that the learning process often begins with a person carrying out a particular action and then seeing the effect of the action in this situation. In the service-learning example the action is service/action. Following this, the second step is to understand our action by reflecting on it, so that if the same action were taken in the same circumstances it would be possible to anticipate the reaction. In this pattern the third step is to form abstract principles under which the particular instance falls. The fourth step tests those principles in a new concrete situation (a second service experience) and see if they are true or helpful in understanding the experience. This model helps us to understand why reflection is so important after action. Without it, actions do not have any long-term relevance, and nothing is learned from them.

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