Reflection for Better Learning I Oxford Open Learning

Reflection for Better Learning

You probably agree that reflection is useful. But have you ever wondered why teachers encourage you to reflect? Here, I will share with you some of my own reasons.


According to Joseph A. Raeline, a well-known scholar, reflection is …. ‘the practice of periodically stepping back to ponder the meaning of what has recently transpired to ourselves.’ Reflection is not alien to us. We all naturally reflect from time to time. Some people will do so whilst in a conversation, others when writing in a journal or diary. There is no set “way” or extent.


Reflection helps us retain knowledge for longer. With it, we gain fresh insights and are able to develop richer, deeper understanding of things previously unknown or misunderstood. You discover new possibilities and experience revolutionary ‘aha!’ moments. Instead of being a passive receiver of knowledge, you actively engage with material. Through reflection, you can notice new patterns, interesting contradictions, or similarities.


You could schedule conversations with friends, mentors or a learning buddy. Hearing yourself talk will help you digest information and develop fresh insights. You might experiment by putting what you learn into a journal on a daily basis. Or you could go for a walk during study breaks, not only to get some fresh air and exercise, but also to ponder the materials you have read about.

Another method is to create a mind map of your new knowledge. Still another, to find opportunities to physically engage with objects which are related to your course materials. If you are studying science, why not make a trip to your local science museum?


Practising reflection can take as little as a few minutes daily. Experiment with different styles and notice what works best for you. Reflection is not a negative, it is is not another task on your to-do list. It is a practice which leads to longer lasting and richer learning experiences.

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Henrietta Nagy is a seasoned portfolio worker with over 10 years’ experience in the UK education sector. Henrietta writes educational content, designs academic courses, delivers university lecturers, mentors entrepreneurs, and provides career development coaching. With 9 years of higher education studies internationally (including an MBA), she has worked with CEOs, academics, scholars, managers, women entrepreneurs, academic administrators, and other consultants.

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