25 Types of Reflection

As stated in the introductory section, reflective activities are considered imperative to meaningful work experience undertakings. As cited in A Practical Guide to Work Integrated Learning [1] “To achieve high-quality reflection in work-integrated learning settings, reflective activities should be guided by trial and error, regular feedback, and consistent alignment between activities and intended learning outcomes (Ash & Clayton, 2009). The table below, taken from the guide (p. 67), provides an overview of various types of reflection.


Summary of Reflection Definitions

Reflection  Thoughtful retrospection that provides new understanding and informs future action

Critical reflection  Enhances basic reflection through questioning personal assumptions, connecting theory to experience, considering multiple perspectives and creating evidence of new learning

Reflection-in-action  Impromptu reflection required to understand and adapt to an ongoing situation

Reflection-on-action  Planned and structured reflection post-experience

Single-loop reflection  Connection of experience to theoretical knowledge

Double-loop reflection  Considers influence of personal values, attitudes and actions

Surface reflection  Extrinsically motivated reflection upon the descriptive elements of experience

Deep reflection  Intrinsically motivated reflection on experience as applicable to self and real-world content


BC ASE ER programs reported a variety of reflective activities used during and after work experience activities. The most common of these was use of a journal, usually guided by set questions or prompts, to be completed at various stages throughout and after the work experience. Some programs with extended work experiences, also hold reflective seminars on campus during the WEP. In addition, students are also asked to reflect on their own performance. This may be done via an interview process or through completing a final self-evaluation based on standard check listed items. Programs also reported flexibility in the format of journal activities to reflect individual learning needs. For example, using a video or audio recording for journal activities instead of written format.


“…reflection-on-action is a planned and structured reflection exercise that facilitates experiential learning (Schon, 1983, as cited in Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, n.b.). Reflection-on-action is most common when the individual is not currently engaged in the workplace or environment in which the situation or experience occurred. (Schon, 1983, as cited in Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, n.b.).


Other reported reflective activities included having students create a class presentation about their WEP (see sample guiding questions below). Some programs sought permission to take photos or videos of their students on site, to be used in such reflective activities, as well as for use in student e-portfolios. This activity was reported to be useful both for reflection activities and as an exploratory tool for exposing other students to peer perspectives about a variety of worksites.  This factor was noted to be particularly useful in highlighting some of the intangible factors which can make a worksite appealing. For example, even positions where there may be no long-term career expectations can have some value for students who are looking to build their resume and gain some paid work experience. They may be exposed to other factors that can influence job satisfaction even when the work is not an ideal match, such as a fun work team (camaraderie, social opportunities, etc.), convenience, pay, etc. Reflective activities also involved reviewing and updating the student’s personal profile, or personal plan.


Class presentation and reflection guiding questions:

  • What is the name and location of this business?
  • What was your job title?
  • What were your duties?
  • Was this site/job a good match for you? Why or why not?
  • Would you recommend this site to another student? Why or why not?
  • What was the best thing about this WEP?
  • Was there anything you did not like about this WEP?
  • What safety rules were in place at this site? Did you need any PPE?


Instructional Practices to Strengthen Student Reflection

  • Encourage the use of advanced vocabulary to promote rich and exact reflections.
  • Ensure appropriate timing.
  • Pay attention to the individual learning styles of students.
  • Provide guiding questions and activities.
  • Structure appropriate learning environments.
Adapted from Rogers (2001)

  1. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. (n.d.). A practical guide for work-integrated learning. Retrieved from Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario: http://www.heqco.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/HEQCO_WIL_Guide_ENG_ACC.pdf


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Types of Reflection Copyright © 2021 by Nicola Soles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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