(Janet Eyler, "Emotion and Learning: Feeling our Way Toward a New Theory of Reflection in Service-Learning")
Effective reflection engages both teachers and students in a thoughtful and thought-provoking process that consciously connects learning with experience. It is the use of critical thinking skills to prepare for and learn from service experiences. [citation: Learn and Serve America's National Service-Learning_Clearinghouse. Glossary. Scotts Valley, CA: Author, 2003]
The term "reflection" is derived from the Latin term reflectere -- meaning "to bend back." A mirror does precisely this, bend back the light, making visible what is apparent to others, but a mystery to us -- namely, what our faces look like. In service learning, we look to develop processes that allow the people doing service to bend the metaphorical light of their experiences back onto their minds -- to make careful considerations about what their experience were all about: what did they see, who did they meet, why is there a need for such services in the first place, etc. The act of reflection, therefore, becomes crucial to their education. It serves as the bridge between experiences and learning.
"Reflection is a process of seeking clarity about truth, it demands consideration of one’s internal state (beliefs, feelings, assumptions) and external circumstances (actions, relationships, power dynamics, obstacles). It also demands a self-honesty and humility that will hold its own against affront from any quarter. "
––Tony Chambers, National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good, 2002.
More reflection resources:
Honnet, E. P., & Poulson, S. J. (1989). Principles of good practice for combining service and learning. (Wingspread Special Report). Racine, WI: The Johnson Foundation.
Howard, J. (Ed.). (1993). Praxis I: A faculty casebook on community service learning. Ann Arbor, MI: Office of Community Service Learning Press, University of Michigan.
Effective service-learning efforts strengthen service and academic learning.
Model service learning provides concrete opportunities for youth to learn new skills, to think critically, and to test new roles in an environment that encourages risk taking and rewards competence.
Preparation and reflection are essential elements in service learning.
Youths efforts are recognized by those served, including their peers, the school, and the community.
Youth are involved in the planning.
The services that students perform make a meaningful contribution to the community.
Effective service-learning integrates systematic formative and summative evaluation.
Service-learning connects the school or sponsoring organization and its community in new and positive ways.
Service learning is understood and supported as an integral element in the life of a school or sponsoring organization and its community.
Skilled adult guidance and supervision are essential to the success of service learning.
Pre-service training, orientation, and staff development that include the philosophy and methodology of service learning best ensure that program quality and continuity are maintained.
Alliance for Service-Learning in Education Reform. (1995, March). Standards of quality for school-based service-learning.