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What is Relection?

Reflection is an essential component of service-learning. It turns a simple service experience into a meaningful learning experience.

Structured reflection activities encourages us to think deeply about what we are doing—the connection between service and learning.  Reflecting on community experiences deepens the learning and insights, and strengthens our commitment to community involvement and social responsibility.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendall Holmes   

 Facilitating a Reflection ActivitySome things to remember:

What? So what? Now what?

There are three different areas to cover in creating reflective insights:  what happened in the service project, what was gained from the service and what difference it makes for the future.


Objectively report what happened.  What happened?  What did you observe?  What issue is being addressed or population is being served?  What were the results of the project?  What events or “critical incidents” occurred?

So what?

Discuss feelings, ideas, and analysis of the service experience.  What was learned?  What difference did the event make?  Did you learn a new skill?  How is your experience different from what you expected?  What impacts the way you view the situation/experience?  What did you like/dislike about the experience?  What are some of the pressing needs in the community?  How did this project address those needs?

Now what?

Consider the broader implications of the service experience.  What are the root causes of the issue/problem addressed?  What contributes to the success of a project like this?  What hinders success?  What learning occurred for you in this experience?  How can you apply this learning?  If you could do the project again what would you do differently?


National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.

Reflection in Higher Education Service-Learning.

Eyler, J., & D. E. Giles, J. (1999). Where's the Learning in Service-Learning? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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