Reflection is a mental process which, applied to the act of learning, challenges students to use critical thinking to examine presented information, question its validity, and draw conclusions based on the resulting ideas.  This ongoing process allows the students to narrow possible solutions and eventually form a conclusion.  The result of this struggle is achieving a better understanding of the concept.  Without reflection, learning ends "well short of the re-organization of thinking that 'deep' learning requires" (Ewell, 1997, p.9). Effective learning situations require time for thinking. Students also reflect on themselves as learners when they evaluate the thinking processes they used to determine which strategies worked best.  They can then apply that information about how they learn as they approach learning in the future.             

Checklist  of Observable Behaviors

___ 1. Metacognition  (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 1999, p.14): This internal dialogue that individuals develop on their own helps build the skills of predicting learning outcomes and monitoring comprehension.

___ 2. Transfer of knowledge  (Donovan et al., 1999, p.6): Students extend what they have learned in one context to a new context.
___ 3. Analogical reasoning (Donovan et al., 1999, p.13): Students compare and contrast what is known and familiar in order to find meanings and solutions applicable to the particular context.


          Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (Eds). (1999).How people learn: Bridging research and practice. National Academy of Sciences [On-line]. Available:

            Ewell,  P.  T.  (1997).  Organizing for learning: A point of entry.  Draft prepared for discussion at the 1997 AAHE Summer Academy at Snowbird.  National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). Available:


“Celebrating Diversity in Iowa Schools” is a sociology lesson designed for junior/senior students in high school to give them cultural experiences beyond the school walls, to celebrate diversity in Iowa, and to learn how to organize and facilitate large group meetings.  For a final project, the students will research, organize, and facilitate an ICN (Iowa Communication Network) Diversity Conference in which students from across the state will share cultures, attitudes, and ideas to celebrate Iowa’s diverse population. This topic involves students’ abilities to reflect on their previous experiences of encountering other cultures.

In preparing the class, the instructor conducts a reflection-based discussion to brainstorm general ideas, topics, and concepts related to the basic idea of diversity and how that idea is changing. Students will discuss differences in society, religion, beliefs, ethnicity, rural versus urban life, conflicts within diversity, media focus on negative or positive aspects of diversity, stereotypes, preconceived notions, and the characteristics of an area’s culture.

The teacher asks the students to share their personal experiences of traveling to large metropolitan cities in the United States, as well as various European countries.  In the process, reflection occurs frequently as the students share their personal stories.   The students are asked specifically to reflect on the fears and questions they had as well as the adjustments they went through when experiencing the new cultures.  During this process, the instructor asks them to link the previously discussed general notions on culture and diversity with very particular situations, such as Iowa culture and its reflection in their schools’ culture. 


            Pralle,  S.  (2000).  Celebrating diversity in Iowa schools.  INTIME: Integrating New Technology Into the Methods of Education. [On-line].  Available: Integrating New Technology Into the Methods of Education. [On-line].  Available: