Methods of Reflection about Service Learning: Guided vs. Free, Dialogic vs. Expressive, and Public vs. Private

Amanda Sturgill, Philip Motley


Reflection is a key component of service learning, but research shows that in order to maximize learning, the reflection must be of high quality. This paper compares the affordances of three different models of written reflection in engendering students’ higher-order thought processes. Student reflections were compared across axes of guided versus free response, dialogic versus expressive reflection, and public versus private reflection. Results indicate that guided reflection yields more response than free reflection does. Dialogic and guided reflections both yield more integration of knowledge from service learning activities within a larger context. Results for public reflection versus private were mixed. Ethical considerations for public reflection are also discussed.

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Teaching & Learning Inquiry is the official journal of the
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