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Portfolio Process: Reflection

Reflection is often referred to as the act which causes metacognition to become tangible and therefore understood. Reflection on one's work and on one's processes and ideas enables learners to become aware of their mental models and ways of doing. This awareness is important as it allows for change and growth to occur.

In school, students can reflect on individual assignments or projects, but may also be required to reflect on their progress overall. This is the reflection often talked about in the portfolio process, the reflection on learning that takes place over time, usually one school term. In general, reflection in the portfolio process is not limited to any one particular type and can occur at different times. Its broad characteristics include the following:

  • Reflection is on-going, taking place naturally as assignments are completed.
  • Reflection is specific, targeting selected pieces and providing a rationale for their inclusion in the portfolio.
  • Reflection is general, as students may be asked to sum up or take a bird's eye view of their work.
  • Reflection is scaffolded so that students get used to asking themselves deep questions.
  • Reflection is modeled, by the teacher and by peers, to share vocabulary and strategies.

Why reflect: Process vs. Product

With all the vast amounts of information that surrounds us, content learning is no longer a priority. Knowing how to find information and understanding both the process and content of discovering that information are the skills that students require in order to become life-long learners. Reflecting or self-evaluating is a practice which requires students to look at the process that they used to reach their goals. Although the end product is important, it is no longer the focus of learning. Instead, the process of steps taken to develop an end product are the focus of learning.