Back to navigation  | Flash site | About this site
Reflection: Research and Resources

Reflection: Research and Resources

Assessing one's own thoughts, actions or work.


ERIC digest on Reflective Thinking

Written by Samuel Shermis, this ERIC digest briefly describes the evolution of what "reflection" means from Dewey's original definition, and provides some practical frameworks for how to present problems to students so that they stimulate reflective thought.

Reflective Thinking (RT)

Part of a NASA-led collaboration to develop science curricula, this page contains a useful and concise list of things teachers can do to stimulate reflection in the classroom.

Don Clark's Summary of Critical Reflection

Written by a management trainer, this summary nicely organizes the characteristics of the learner, the environment, and the task which must be considered to encourage critical reflection.


Bowkett, S. (2006). 100 ideas for teaching thinking skills. New York: Continuum International.

A very breezy and well-organized book of practical ideas for teaching many kinds of critical thinking skills. Relevant to reflection are #22 "Strategic Thinking" and #28 "The What Do We Know?" Triangle.

Brockbank, A., & McGill, I. (2007). Facilitating reflective learning in higher education. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

This book has both theoretical and practical sections. In its theoretical section, this book reviews literature on learning and reflection, with particularly nice coverage of Donald Schon's concepts of double-loop learning and his distinction between reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. The book's practical section provides frameworks and guidance on facilitating classroom discussion for reflection, including a particularly noteworthy "workshop" exercise which leads students into reflective dialogue after a lecture.

Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield is among the most prominent authors in the critical reflection literature and his writing is insightful, practical and humble. In this book he defines reflection as "hunting assumptions" and writes that "reflection becomes critical when it has two distinctive purposes. The first is to understand how considerations of power undergird, frame, and distort educational processes and interactions. The second is to question assumptions and practices that seem to make our teaching lives easier but actually work against our own best long-term interests" (p.8).

Schon, D.A. (1990) Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stepping out of the well-determined classroom setting, this book examines how learners can "acquire the kinds of artistry essential to competence in indeterminate zones of practice" (p.18) like apprenticeships and coaching/mentoring situations. Schon begins by using the architectural design studio as his initial object of meditation, then applies his notion of a "reflective practicum" to music performance classes and the psychoanalytic supervision setting.


Austin, Z., Gregory, P. & Chiu, S. (2008). Use of reflection-in-action and self-assessment to promote critical thinking among pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 72(3), 1-8.

A 24-item standardized test of critical thinking was developed utilizing previously-validated questions. Participants were divided into 2 groups (conditions). Those in condition 1 completed the test with no interference; those in condition 2 completed the test but were prompted at specific points during the test to reflect and self-assess. Significant differences were observed between those who completed the test under condition 1 and condition 2, suggesting reflection and self-assessment may contribute positively to improvement in critical thinking

Klein, P. Olson, D.R., & Stanovich, K. (1997). Structuring reflection: Teaching argument concepts and strategies enhances critical thinking. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 13(1), 38-47.

Fifty-five students read, wrote, and discussed arguments in instructional groups that emphasized: argument concepts; an organizational strategy; both concepts and strategy; or neither concepts nor strategy. Students in all treatment groups improved relative to the control group in evaluating arguments, and transferred gains from social to science items. Concept instruction significantly improved students' evaluations of invalid arguments with plausible claims. Strategy instruction significantly improved their argument writing.

Lin, L. M., & Zabrucky, K. M. (1998). Calibration of comprehension: Research and implications for education and instruction. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23, 345-391.

Calibration is a measure of how well we "know what we know" and is often determined by comparing predictions of one's own performance to one's actual performance. In this review of the literature, Lin and Zabrucky cite several laboratory studies that found that "self-generated" feedback is one of the few things that reliably improves one's confidence calibration. An example of self-generated feedback is a practice question in the margin of a reading comprehension test, requiring the reader to reflect upon what they have just read.

MacKnight, C.B. (2000). Teaching critical thinking through online discussion. Educause Quarterly, 4, 38-41

A brief and practical overview of ways to structure and facilitate online discussion so as to keep it reflective and instructional, including a useful list of discussion prompts to probe for assumptions, evidence, implications and perspectives. Available at:

McAlpine, L. & Weston, T. (2000). Reflection: Issues related to improving professors' teaching and students' learning. Instructional Science 28, 363-385.

Examines how the reflective process may or may not help improve teaching skills. Proposes a model of reflective practice similar to Kolb's learning cycle, but describes actions, monitoring and knowledge being connected by a "corridor of tolerance" that determines whether an object of reflection will be considered in need of attention.

Peltier, J.W., Hay, A. & Drago, W. (2005). The reflective learning continuum: Reflecting on reflection. Journal of Marketing Education, 27, 250-263

This article describes the use of an instrument that can be used to measure four identified levels of a reflection hierarchy: habitual action, understanding, reflection, and intensive reflection and two conditions for reflection: instructor-to-student interaction and student-to-student interaction. The authors also demonstrate the importance of reflective learning in predicting Graduates' perception of program quality. Although the focus was on assessment of MBA-level curricula, the findings have great importance to marketing education and educators