How to help your students reflect

Ben, CEO

One thing we consistently notice when we work with education institutions to implement a student voice program is that students believe that they are not reflecting enough on the lessons they are undertaking. 

This includes students self-assessing as low in relation to these statements:

  • “I reflect on what I have learned at the end of each lesson”
  • “I reflect on the progress I’m making”
  • “I can see how learning from one topic relates to another topic”

This provides an opportunity for many teachers given how important self-reflection is to achieving competency in any area.

Through our work in student voice, we have spoken to a number of teachers about this finding, and we receive two common explanations:

  • Teachers don’t set aside time for student reflection
  • Students don’t have the tools to reflect


Time and time again, students self-assess their own reflection as low.

This is a worrying insight given how important self-reflection is to achieving competency in any area.


So, how can you prompt your students to reflect more?

We have found that an effective way to prompt greater student reflection is to ask one or two questions of them before an activity, and one or two related questions after an activity.

For example, a question set such as “How confident are you for the upcoming assessment?” and “What’s one thing I can go through again before the upcoming assessment?” achieve several purposes for a student in terms of reflection.

These two questions enable students to begin to reflect on how prepared they are for, say, an upcoming assessment – for some, it might even trigger that an assessment is coming up! The second question provides an opportunity for the student to communicate to the teacher where they feel they are least prepared. This means that a teacher still has time to take corrective action in better supporting their students to prepare.

Once students have completed an assessment task, you then have permission – and it makes sense to the student – to ask a follow-up question set such as “How did your feel with your assessment result?” and “Where do you feel you need to continue to improve?”. These questions then become an important way for students to complete the learning cycle, naturally encouraging them to reflect on how they have gone and how they might approach a similar task in the future.

Therefore, to support greater reflection among your students, try the following:

  1. Ask one or two questions before an activity to prompt them to to think how they might go about it
  2. Ask one or two questions after an activity to prompt them to to think about how they went and what they learnt

Using a digital tool such as Ziplet will make this task easier for students, and more importantly a time-saver for you as a teacher.

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