What Is Reflective Thinking In Education?


In a teaching context, reflective thinking refers to encouraging students to always reflect upon the information they have and what they still need to obtain and helping them find ways to constantly reduce that gap throughout the learning process.
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What is reflective thinking in learning?

Teaching Reflective Thinking Reflective thinking is the ability to look at the past and develop understanding and insights about what happened and using this information to develop a deeper understanding or to choose a course of action. Many may believe that reflective thinking is a natural part of learning.

  • This post will examine opportunities and aways of reflective thinking.
  • Opportunities for Reflective Thinking
  • Generally, reflective thinking can happen when
  1. When you learn something
  2. When you do something

These are similar but different concepts. Learning can happen without doing anything such as listening to a lecture or discussion. You hear a lot of great stuff but you never implement it. Doing something means the application of knowledge in a particular setting.

An example would be teaching or working at a company. With the application of knowledge comes consequences the indicate how well you did. For example, teaching kids and then seeing either look of understanding or confusion on their face Strategies for Reflective THinking For situations in which the student learns something without a lot of action a common model for encouraging reflective thinking is the Connect, Extend, Challenge model.

The model is explained below

  • Connect: Link what you have learned to something you already know
  • Extend: Determine how this new knowledge extends your learning
  • Challenge: Decide what you still do not understanding

Connecting is what makes learning for many students and is also derived from, Extending is a way for a student to see the benefits of the new knowledge. It goes beyond learning because you were told to learn. Lastly, challenging helps the student to determine what they do not know which is another metacognitive strategy.

  • what went well
  • what went wrong
  • how to fix what went wrong

In this model, the student identifies what they did right, which requires reflective thinking. The student also identifies the things they did wrong during the experience. Lastly, the student must problem solve and develop strategies to overcome the mistakes they made.

  • Often the solutions in this final part are implemented during the next action sequence to see how well they worked out.
  • Conclusion Thinking about the past is one of the strongest ways to prepare for the future.
  • Therefore, teachers must provide their students with opportunities to think reflectively.
  • The strategies included here provide a framework for guiding students in this critical process.

: Teaching Reflective Thinking
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What reflective thinking examples?

What is reflective thinking? – T o think and write reflectively you have to:

Experience something Think about what happened Learn from the experience

You think reflectively all the time, you probably just don’t realise you’re doing it. Have you ever missed the bus and then thought next time I’ll leave the house 5 minutes earlier’? This is an example of you being reflective : you thought about an experience and decided to learn from it and do something different the next time.

Reflection is:

Self awareness : thinking of yourself, your experiences and your view of the world Self improvement : learning from experiences and wanting to improve some area of your life Empowerment : putting you in control of making changes and behaving in a different way

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Why is reflective thinking important in learning?

How do I promote student reflection and critical thinking

  • Reflective Thinking: RT
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  • What is reflective thinking?

The description of reflective thinking:

Critical thinking and reflective thinking are often used synonymously. Critical thinking is used to describe: “. the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome.thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed – the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions when the thinker is using skills that are thoughtful and effective for the particular context and type of thinking task.

Critical thinking is sometimes called directed thinking because it focuses on a desired outcome.” Halpern (1996). Reflective thinking, on the other hand, is a part of the critical thinking process referring specifically to the processes of analyzing and making judgments about what has happened. Dewey (1933) suggests that reflective thinking is an active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge, of the grounds that support that knowledge, and the further conclusions to which that knowledge leads.

Learners are aware of and control their learning by actively participating in reflective thinking – assessing what they know, what they need to know, and how they bridge that gap – during learning situations. In summary, critical thinking involves a wide range of thinking skills leading toward desirable outcomes and reflective thinking focuses on the process of making judgments about what has happened.

However, reflective thinking is most important in prompting learning during complex problem-solving situations because it provides students with an opportunity to step back and think about how they actually solve problems and how a particular set of problem solving strategies is appropriated for achieving their goal.

Characteristics of environments and activities that prompt and support reflective thinking:

  • Provide enough wait-time for students to reflect when responding to inquiries.
  • Provide emotionally supportive environments in the classroom encouraging reevaluation of conclusions.
  • Prompt reviews of the learning situation, what is known, what is not yet known, and what has been learned.
  • Provide authentic tasks involving ill-structured data to encourage reflective thinking during learning activities.
  • Prompt students’ reflection by asking questions that seek reasons and evidence.
  • Provide some explanations to guide students’ thought processes during explorations.
  • Provide a less-structured learning environment that prompts students to explore what they think is important.
  • Provide social-learning environments such as those inherent in peer-group works and small group activities to allow students to see other points of view.
  • Provide reflective journal to write down students’ positions, give reasons to support what they think, show awareness of opposing positions and the weaknesses of their own positions.
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Why is reflective thinking important?

Modern society is becoming more complex, information is becoming available and changing more rapidly prompting users to constantly rethink, switch directions, and change problem-solving strategies. Thus, it is increasingly important to prompt reflective thinking during learning to help learners develop strategies to apply new knowledge to the complex situations in their day-to-day activities.

How to prompt reflection in middle school kids :

It is important to prompt reflective thinking in middle school children to support them in their transition between childhood and adulthood. During this time period adolescents experience major changes in intellectual, emotional, social, and physical development.

They begin to shape their own thought processes and are at an ideal time to begin developing thinking, learning, and metacognitive strategies. Therefore, reflective thinking provides middle level students with the skills to mentally process learning experiences, identify what they learned, modify their understanding based on new information and experiences, and transfer their learning to other situations.

Scaffolding strategies should be incorporated into the learning environment to help students develop their ability to reflect on their own learning. For example,

  • Teachers should model metacognitive and self-explanation strategies on specific problems to help students build an integrated understanding of the process of reflection.
  • Study guides or advance organizer should be integrated into classroom materials to prompt students to reflect on their learning.
  • Questioning strategies should be used to prompt reflective thinking, specifically getting students to respond to why, how, and what specific decisions are made.
  • Social learning environments should exist that prompt collaborative work with peers, teachers, and experts.
  • Learning experiences should be designed to include advice from teachers and co-learners.
  • Classroom activities should be relevant to real-world situations and provide integrated experiences.
  • Classroom experiences should involve enjoyable, concrete, and physical learning activities whenever possible to ensure proper attention to the unique cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domain development of middle school students.

How does K a AMS support reflective thinking?

K a AMS model of PBL and its relationship to reflective thinking:


When students are faced with a perplexing problem, reflective thinking helps them to become more aware of their learning progress, choose appropriate strategies to explore a problem, and identify the ways to build the knowledge they need to solve the problem. The K a AMS model of PBL incorporates various components to prompt students’ reflective thinking during the learning process. The lesson plans:

  • Provide teacher questions designed to prompt students to identify and clarify overall and subordinate problems,
  • Provide many opportunities to engage students in gathering information to look for possible causes and solutions.
  • Provide ideas and activity sheets to help students evaluate the evidence they gather,
  • Provide questions that prompt students to consider alternatives and implications of their ideas,
  • Provide questions and activities that prompt students to draw conclusions from the evidence they gathered and pose solutions.
  • Provide opportunities for students to choose and implement the best alternative,
  • Encourage students to monitor and reevaluate their results and findings throughout the entire unit.



  • KaAMS incorporates prompts and scaffolding suggestions to promote reflective thinking by:
    • Structuring lesson plans to support reflective thinking.
    • Providing lesson components that prompt inquiry and curiosity.
    • Providing resources and hand-on activities to prompt exploration.
    • Providing reflective thinking activities that prompt students to think about what they have done, what they learned, and what they still need to do.
    • Providing reflection activity worksheets for each lesson plan to prompt students to think about what they know, what they learned, and what they need to know as they progress through their exploration.
    1. Links to additional information on critical and reflective thinking:
    2. A Selected Reflective Thinking Bibliography:


    • Moon, J.A. (1999). Reflection in learning and professional development: Theory and practice. London: Kogan Page.
    • Halpern, D.F. (1996). Thought and knowledge: an introduction to critical thinking (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.

    Selected Article :

    Lin, X., Hmelo, C., Kinzer, C.K., & Secules, T. J (1999). Designing technology to support reflection, Educational Technology Research & Development, pp.43-62.

    : How do I promote student reflection and critical thinking
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    How can reflective thinking be used in the classroom?

    Reflective theory says that teachers need to generate a problem (think like students) and then ask them questions that create conflict and confusion – followed by helping students reach an answer. students knowing facts before they can progress to higher levels of thinking.
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    How do teachers develop their reflective thinking skills?

    Teachers can develop reflective thinking skills by the interaction provided through a dialogue journal, purposeful discussions, and teaching portfolios (Cruickshank et al., 2006).
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    What are some characteristics of reflective thinking?

    Reflective thinking requires you to recognise, understand and to define the valuable knowledge and experience you bring to each new situation, to make the connections based on your prior learning and experience (your ‘insight’), and bring these to bear in the context of new events.

    • You become an actively aware and critical learner through this process.
    • As Figure 1 showed, this process starts with you – you need to examine and identify your own baseline position by revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring, and consider how or why you think the way you do.

    Examining your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions in this way forms the basis of a deeper understanding and higher level of learning required at Master’s level and for professional practice. What are the key features of reflection?

    Reflection results in learning: It can change your ideas and understanding of the situation. Reflection is an active and dynamic process: It can involve reflecting ‘on’ action (past experience), reflecting ‘in’ action (on an incident as it happens), or reflecting ‘for’ action (actions that you may wish to take in the future). Reflection is not a linear process, but cyclic: It leads to the development of new ideas which can be used to plan the next stages of learning. Reflection encourages looking at issues from different perspectives: It helps you to understand the issue and scrutinise your own values, assumptions and perspectives.

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    What are the 3 main elements to reflective thinking writing?

    Reflective writing: What does reflection involve? At the heart of reflection is critical thinking. In short, this means you must ‘question’ everything about your experiences, about what you are felt and with what you read. For an assignment, you need to use evidence-based research or theories by academic writers alongside your personal experience.

    objectivity (stand back, be factual and do not take sides) detachment (avoid emotional responses) theories / models / concepts (abstract ideas) compare and contrast (relative thinking) judge evidence based upon reliable research (facts, not feelings) methodologies (quantitative v. qualitative) experimental approaches (empirical approach).

    This is where and why your reflective writing comes into its own. The more your reflective writing includes critical and analytical questioning, the more beneficial it will be for your academic achievements and future prospects. In order to take an objective, balanced stance, you need to reflect carefully upon the evidence you have reviewed in the academic literature and adopt an analytical approach to experimental results. Reflective thinking and writing involve a large element of self-discovery. Cottrell (2010) pointed out that the reflective process is challenging. This is because we do not always like to discover the truth about ourselves and the things we most need to know can be the hardest to hear.

    It takes time and practice for anyone to develop good reflective skills. You should not be discouraged if the process of reflection does not come naturally or quickly. If you do face up to difficult aspects of our approach to learning (e.g. not being organised) then there will be great benefits. Reflective thinking essentially involves three processes: experiencing something, thinking (reflecting) on the experience, and learning from the experience.

    Here is an example: a student receives a low mark in an assignment and reflects upon the experience.

    An experience/event : You receive a low mark in an assignment Self-awareness: How you think and feel about the experience
    Thinking about the experience: You read the feedback from your tutor and think about what you can do to improve your marks Self-improvement : Learning from experience and wanting to improve on past performance
    Learning from the experience : You act on the feedback Empowerment : You take control of making changes in order to achieve a better outcome

    The three processes above outline the most simplistic model for reflective practice: There are models that are more complicated and frameworks that you can use for reflection and this section will later consider models by Kolb, Gibbs and Schön. A lot of students struggle with reflective thinking as it seems a very alien skill to those used in the majority of academic reports and essays.
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    What are the five steps of the reflective thinking process?

    The 5 stages of reflective thinking in order. Identification, Analyze, criteria for acceptable solution, Generate Potential solutions, Select best solution.
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    What is another name for reflective thinking?

    What is another word for reflective?

    contemplative meditative
    broody deliberate
    studious cogitating
    deep musing
    pondering reasoning

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    Why reflective thinking is important for a teacher to become effective?

    4. Developing reflective learners – Reflective teachers are more likely to develop reflective learners. If teachers practise reflection they can more effectively encourage learners to reflect on, analyse, evaluate and improve their own learning. These are key skills in developing them to become independent learners, highlighting the important role of teachers as reflective practitioners.
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    Why is it beneficial for teachers to use reflective thinking?

    It helps teachers to take informed actions that can be justified and explained to others and that can be used to guide further action. It allows teachers to adjust and respond to issues. It helps teachers to become aware of their underlying beliefs and assumptions about learning and teaching.
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    What are the three benefits of reflective teaching?

    Reflective teaching offers many benefits for teachers and students alike. As previously mentioned, reflective teaching practices can boost creativity, motivation and critical thinking and the development of metacognitive skills.
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    What are the six steps to reflective thinking?

    Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle One of the most famous cyclical models of reflection leading you through six stages exploring an experience: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 to give structure to learning from experiences.

    Description of the experience Feelings and thoughts about the experience Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad Analysis to make sense of the situation Conclusion about what you learned and what you could have done differently Action plan for how you would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes you might find appropriate.

    Below is further information on:

    The model – each stage is given a fuller description, guiding questions to ask yourself and an example of how this might look in a reflection Different depths of reflection – an example of reflecting more briefly using this model

    This is just one model of reflection. Test it out and see how it works for you. If you find that only a few of the questions are helpful for you, focus on those. However, by thinking about each stage you are more likely to engage critically with your learning experience.
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    Why is reflective thinking important for children?

    Supporting Children’s Reflection With Phones and Tablets Early in the day, Jordan, a preschool teacher, asks a group of children, “Before we start playing, do you want to watch the video of what you did yesterday?” “Yes!” chime several children as a few get up and run over to the tablet.

    • Jordan plays the short video and asks, “What’s happening here?” “Amelia was sick!” says Sara.
    • Zach agrees: “Yeah, she has diphtheria.
    • Sara saw it on the X-ray.
    • See? There she is looking at the X-ray.” “Well, doctors, how will you help our friend today?” asks Jordan.
    • Zach replies, “We need to get her the medicine, but it is far away.” Sara suggests having a dogsled relay to get the medicine, connecting yesterday’s play to the story of Balto the sled dog, currently popular in the class.

    The children rush off, gathering props and friends—they need as many dogsled teams as they can get! Soon most of the class is working together on the relay, getting Amelia her medicine in the nick of time. Later in the day the children watch a video of the dogsled play and revisit their harrowing tale with each other.

    • Encouraging reflection is an important practice for early childhood educators.
    • When young children reflect, they build skills like remembering, questioning, investigating, explaining, translating, sharing, and revisiting.
    • These skills are crucial both in school and in life.
    • Reflection is a valuable part of anything we want to teach preschoolers—self-regulation, conflict resolution, planning, even literacy.

    It’s also an important skill to learn in and of itself. At the Children’s Community School (CCS) we help children develop their own ideas and build connections with each other. Our practice revolves around the inquiry process. We encourage children to explore and experiment with ideas, collect and record information about what they know, and reflect and share what they know.

    1. They do all of this in the context of play.
    2. Through this process we help children think deeply and work together to make meaning from their work.
    3. At CCS, we’ve long used photographs as one tool to help children reflect on activities—their own and each other’s.
    4. For instance, a teacher might show a child a photo of the child working on a piece of art and ask him to recall the process he used.

    Or the teacher might show some photos of a previous day’s activity to a small group and ask them to revisit their ideas. Recently, we started to use tablets and phones to make audio and video recordings as well. By creating videos of children’s play and audio recordings of their stories and conversations, we offer children unique opportunities to reflect on their ideas and voices.

    When preschoolers watch or listen to themselves, they have a particularly powerful window into their own thoughts and actions. For example, while listening to themselves tell a story, children can really listen in a unique way. It’s difficult for young children to talk and listen at the same time, so hearing a recording lets them think about what they have said.

    When watching videos of play, children can sometimes take a wider view than they could during the play itself. They can consider their own role, each other’s roles and actions, and the play as a whole. The perspectives offered by recordings can be especially useful in helping children take ideas to the next level.

    They can connect different ideas, involve more classmates, and find ways to resolve problems in their stories (all demonstrated in the opening vignette). Asking children to revisit recordings is also useful when children are losing interest and leaving play, or when play is getting stuck and the children keep repeating certain ideas without developing them.

    In addition, the process of making and sharing recordings is a wonderful experience for teachers. Teachers get to reflect on children (“Wow, Elena really has a lot of great ideas in dramatic play!”) and reflect on practice (“Oh, next time I’ll ask a different question.”).
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    What are 3 characteristics of a reflective teacher?

    Some characteristics of a reflective teacher include the ability to self-analyze, identify their own strengths, weaknesses, objectives and threats, as well as good time-management skills, organisation, patience, self-acceptance, and the well for, and implementation of, self-improvement of self and teaching practices.
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    Who describes reflective thinking?

    Who among the following described ‘reflective thinkingggg&# Free 10 Questions 10 Marks 10 Mins John Dewey: The work of Dewey (1933) is considered as the beginning of the study and application of reflection.

    For him, reflection is a kind of thinking, in the process of which one brings the subject to the forefront of the mind and gives serious thought to this. It is a process of manipulation of knowledge and its reprocessing towards the set goal, and so, it is goal-directed. One ‘thinks’ when in u ncertainty or difficulty so as to solve the ‘perplexity’, and the process leads to testing through some action. Dewey believed that effective education through reflection should aim at ‘making sense of the world’, and therefore, this is related to experience. Learners are aware of and control their learning by active participation in reflective thinking. In the reflective experience in which the environment is used as the object of reflection.

    Key Points Dewey’s concept of reflective thought and action, depicted comprises five phases:

    Disturbance and uncertainty Intellectualization Formation of Hypothesis Reasoning Hypothesis Testing.

    Hence we conclude that John Dewey described ‘reflective thinking’. India’s #1 Learning Platform Start Complete Exam Preparation Daily Live MasterClasses Practice Question Bank Mock Tests & Quizzes Trusted by 3.4 Crore+ Students : Who among the following described ‘reflective thinkingggg&#
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    What are the levels of reflective thinking?

    Van Manen (1977) stated that reflective thinking can be done at three levels. These are technical reflection level, practical reflection and critical reflection. Technical reflection is the basic level of reflection.
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    What is an example of a reflective practice in education?

    When instructors engage in reflective teaching, they are dedicating time to evaluate their own teaching practice, examine their curricular choices, consider student feedback, and make revisions to improve student belonging and learning. This process requires information gathering, data interpretation, and planning for the future.

    • Reflective teaching involves examining one’s underlying beliefs about teaching and learning and one’s alignment with actual classroom practice before, during and after a course is taught.
    • When teaching reflectively, instructors think critically about their teaching and look for evidence of effective teaching.

    This critical analysis can draw on a variety of sources: Brookfield (2017) lays out four crucial sources: “students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, personal experience, and theory and research.” Instructors can use various tools and methods to learn from these sources and reflect on their teaching, ranging from low-key to formal and personal to inter-collegial.
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    Why is reflective thinking important for teachers?

    4. Developing reflective learners – Reflective teachers are more likely to develop reflective learners. If teachers practise reflection they can more effectively encourage learners to reflect on, analyse, evaluate and improve their own learning. These are key skills in developing them to become independent learners, highlighting the important role of teachers as reflective practitioners.
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