Reflection and Goal Setting are important skills for students to have to be able to self regulate, take responsibility and and have independence in their learning. It is equally important that their teachers are able to model the process of reflection, identifying learning needs, setting goals and working to achieve their goals.
Engaging in reflection is an essential part of learning. It allows the learner to analyse the process of learning, and the product of their learning. Additionally, it allows the learner to identify areas where they may need to make further improvements for continual learning. Reflective thinking needs to be taught, and planned for in a student’s course of study. Being to able to reflect and analyse their learning is an important requisite for critical thinking.
Reflection on learning requires honesty from the learner and a commitment to continual improvement. Reflection can be based on feedback that has been provided, and is most effective when it is written and recorded in a permanent location that can be referred back to.
Effective learners are those that are able to use the knowledge generated by reflection and metacognitive process to self regulate their learning, have awareness of their thinking and are able to move towards new and reformulated goals.
A simple framework for reflection could be:
Description of what happened.
Feelings associated with the learning.
Evaluation of the learning, was it positive or negative.
Analysis and making sense of the learning.
Conclusions and what else could I have done.
Action Plan and what the learner can do next.
Goal setting provides students with further opportunities to self regulate their learning. To be able to set relevant and realistic goals, the learner first needs to be able to reflect, and in the Socratic way, they have to know that they don’t know, in order for them to know. This can be applied in a cyclical fashion, to create a continual process of learning and improvement. Goal setting provides opportunities for students to self evaluate, discuss their learning aims, and to formulate strategies for learning.
SMART is a well known framework for goal setting. Modifying the framework to make it simpler for students has been highly successful.
Specific – What do you want to achieve?
Action – How are you going to do it?
Time – How long will it take you?
Outcome – How are you going to show what you have learnt?