How can reflection be facilitated in the classroom?
Effective reflection depends on appropriate contexts and real problems and issues. The culture of the class community must be one in which students feel included, respected, and safe. The dialog among instructor and students must be meaningful. Students are helped to feel respected and included in the class community through small groups in which they can exchange concerns, experiences, and expectations about the service and the class.
Meaningful dialogue is facilitated by ensuring that topics and experiences are relevant to students and over which they have some control. Underlying meaningful dialogue is students' "need-to-know." By involving them in real community problems, service-learning fulfills that "need-to-know," and kindles a desire to enhance their skills and commitment to helping solve societal problems that are importance to them.
- links service objectives to the course objectives by integrating the service experience with course learning.
- is guided and purposeful.
- occurs regularly within the course.
- includes components that can be evaluated according to well-defined criteria.
- provides opportunities for both private and public reflection.
- fosters civic responsibility.
- is continuous, connected, challenging and contextual.
- Prepare a framework for guiding the discussion (see ORID model).
- Lead the group by actively engaging each student.
- Set the tone by establishing norms of behavior such as:
- Anyone in the group may speak at any time — no hand-raising is required, but the rules of polite conversation are followed.
- No profanity or sexual innuendoes are necessary to make a point.
- Speakers should be respectful, open-minded, and not aim to put anyone down.
- Insist that responses are clear, coherent sentences, not just a few words.
- Clarify students' responsibilities and expectations (write them down and copy for all).
- Arouse interest and commitment to the service learning.
- Assess the values, knowledge, and skills that each student brings to the project.
- Develop background information about the people and problems the students will encounter in the service situations to sensitize them and help to revise any misconceptions.
- Develop and practice any skills that will be required, including being active observers and questioners of experience.
- Get closure on emotional/affective issues by the end of each reflective session.
- Leave some cognitive/topical issues open until the next session to give group members an opportunity to think more about them.