Activities for Critical Analysis and Reflection in the Classroom
When facilitating reflection, vary the activities to accommodate multiple learning styles; create a reflective classroom – do not just add a reflective component. Listed below are examples of activities faculty members can use to facilitate critical analysis and reflection in their service-learning courses.
Students may be asked to keep a journal as they engage in the service experience. The journals should not merely be simple inventories of events. They should address situations objectively, subjectively, and analytically. Instructors may provide questions to guide students in addressing issues and should review the journals periodically. It is helpful to offer written comments, questions, and feedback that will encourage, challenge, and provide a dialogue that deepens the students’ thought processes. Taking up an entry each week or reading a weekly online posting can ameliorate worksite problems and challenge students to rigorous intellectual inquiry.
The ORID Model
The ORID model provides a progression of question types designed to move students from reflecting on the concrete experience to analytical and subjective reasoning. It may be used to create journal or discussion questions and to guide assignments and activity types. The progression may be completed within one assignment and/or over the whole semester.
Objective: Begin with questions related to the concrete experience. What did students do, observe, read, and hear? Who was involved? What was said? What happened as a result of their work?
Reflective: Next introduce questions that address the affective experience. How did the experience feel? What did it remind them of? How did their apprehension change or their confidence grow? Did they feel successful, effective, and knowledgeable?
Interpretive: Ask questions that explore the cognitive experience. What did the experience make them think? How did it change their thinking? What did they learn? What worked? How does the experience connect with classroom learning?
Decisional: Finally, students are prepared to incorporate their experience into a new paradigm. They may have a shift in knowledge, awareness, or understanding that affects how they see things and, ultimately, how they will act. What will they do differently next time? What decisions or opinions have they formed? How will the experience affect their career path, their personal life choices, or their use of new information, skills or technology?
The groups may involve either the entire class or just small numbers of students. the instructor may allow students to choose their own group members, or s/he can set criteria for group composition (e.g., no groups composed of a single ethnicity or gender), or s/he can assign students to groups. The group members exchange ideas about the course topics and/or the service experiences. The instructor may either pose general or narrowly focused questions for discussion. A scribe may be assigned to submit a summary of the discussion to the instructor or to the rest of the class.
Analytic papers provide students with an opportunity to describe their service experience, to evaluate the experience and what they learned from it, and to integrate their experiences with course topics. If the papers are assigned at the end of the course, students can make use of ideas derived from class discussion, journals, and other reflective activities provided during the course. Papers may include traditional library research, interviews, or other quantitative and qualitative methods.
Portfolios and Notebooks
Students may be asked to compile materials relevant to the service-learning experience and the course of which it is a part. These materials may include journals, analytic papers, scripts/notes for class presentations, items created or collected as part of the service, pictures, agency brochures, handbooks, time-sheets, service agreement, and training materials. Portfolios provide a focus for reflection on the service experience and its documentation. Introductory letters or papers addressed to the reader can help students to discover meaning through writing.
Students may be asked to make presentations to their classmates (and/or to broader audiences) describing their service-learning experiences, evaluating them and integrating them with the course topics. Community partners may be invited and/or students may present at the work site. Presentations may be videotaped to share with other audiences.
Students may be asked to write responses to course readings, connecting them with service experiences. Students can be allowed greater or less freedom in how they respond, by posing either general or more focused questions.
Students may be asked to contribute to electronic discussion on service-learning and course topics using a listserv, discussion board, or blog. They may respond to questions posed by the instructor, to points raised by other students, or to readings posted on the site. They may prepare web sites that document and reflect on their work. Remember, public discussions work best with formal rules of engagement and clear expectations for type, frequency, and content of postings.
Simulations and Role Playing
Students may problem-solve by acting out potential problems or issues at the worksite. Games can simulate challenging situations.
Students may write letters to community partners, parents, or other appropriate audiences to help them process their learning.
Engaging the Community
Enrich reflection activities by inviting community partners to participate in class reflection or to suggest topics. Ask partners to share in the teaching role by reflecting informally with service-learners on the site when the opportunity arises. Invite community partners into the classroom during the course to reflect on ongoing projects. Invite community partners into the classroom at the end of the course to reflect on the events of the semester. Meet with community partners after the semester is complete to reflect and discuss the service-learning partnership experience.
Sturzl Center for Community Service & Learning
Phone: (920) 403-3374