July's eZine included an article highlighting the importance of reflection to build the learning experience of young people in our research groups. This month we'll highlight additional tools to assist you in this vital task! Creating opportunities for young people to reflect on their experiences is a critical component to strengthening program quality, yet this is often the most challenging to implement.
So why is it so hard to do in our programs?
- We fall into the trap of thinking of reflection as something that can only be done at the end of a program session, and we often run short of time to finish an activity, let alone reflection.
- Most of us are not taught to be reflective learners nor are young people offered much opportunity to pause and reflect as part of their typical day or out-of-school program schedule.
Try a New Tool!
Use tools that reflect multiple intelligences and various learning styles. These resources offer a variety of short, easy-to-use reflection activities:
- Building Your Programs 20 Minutes at a Time-Reflection & Leadership Activities You Can Use - Two booklets of activities that have been used with thousands of young people and adult learners (available at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/youth/research/research-quality.html).
- A Teachable Moment, offering an excellent overview of reflection as well as hundreds of debriefing activities.
- Active Reviewing - Roger Greenaway
Four questions to ask yourself
Here are four indicators of youth having opportunity for reflection, based on youth program quality research (Smith, et al., 2013). How would you respond?
- Do I use two or more strategies to encourage youth to share what they have done and reflect on their experiences, challenges, accomplishments (e.g., drawing, debriefing activities, use of props or models, using technology)?
- Do I create strategies that have youth work together and talk in teams of two, small groups, and large group settings?
- Do I circulate and ask youth to talk about their activity or progress as they are working on a project? Do I encourage youth to explain their thinking? Do I ask mostly open-ended questions?
- How do I give opportunities for youth to demonstrate how they solved a problem?
Cain, Cummings, Stanchfield (2008). A Teachable Moment - A Facilitator's Guide to Activities for Processing, Debriefing, Reviewing and Reflection. Kendall-Hunt.
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Smith, et al., (2013). Program Quality Assessment Handbook-youth version. David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, Forum for Youth Investment. Ypsilanti, MI.
Extension Center for Youth Development