How to Use Digital Portfolios for Reflection


Reflection is not simply a part of the learning process—it is the learning process.

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Reflection facilitates growth, refinement of ideas, deep thinking and the evaluation of experiences. This essential metacognitive practice is used to apply meaningful knowledge to shape future decisions, thoughts and actions.

“Metacognition is really about leveraging what we know about our person and our strengths and weaknesses, understanding the task and how it relates to our person (how long will it takes us to read or comprehend), and the strategies we have to process and make sense of information, tasks, and experiences to be successful in school and beyond.”

—Lisa Johnson, Cultivating Communication in the Classroom

Studies prove the monumental benefits of learning by thinking.

The jury is out and it’s a unanimous decision: direct experience + intentional reflection = true learning.

“Reflection is the instrument by which experiences are translated into dynamic knowledge.”

—Fred Korthagen, professor emeritus of the pedagogy of teacher

education at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

All sorts of industries like to talk about reflection—it’s a popular topic today. But let’s take what could be pie in the sky and get down to brass tacks: how do we reflect?

There are many methods and models you can find to help you develop a fruitful reflection practice. We find the Gibbs Reflective Cycle to be really effective. This method was developed by Professor Graham Gibbs in his 1988 book “Learning by Doing” and focuses on experiential learning.

The six-step process can easily be applied to any activity, lesson or daily practice.

  1. Description: recreate the situation, event or activity in detail, without drawing any conclusions right away.
  2. Feelings: become aware of the emotions and thoughts you experienced at the time of the event or activity.
  3. Evaluation: ask yourself what went well and what did not.
  4. Analysis: determine your attitude toward the evaluation and develop critical opinions of the experience.
  5. Conclusion: take a step back to ask yourself what else you could have done in this situation.
  6. Action Plan: develop specific actions to take in the future and commit yourself to growth in the relevant areas.
“We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience.”

—John Dewey

It might be the end of the school year for students, but it’s just the beginning of your personal and professional growth. This transition provides a delightfully tangible milestone to pause and reflect. We’ve developed a template for you to use as you shift your focus from serving others to investing in yourself.

We hope this template will support you in walking more confidently in the direction of your dreams. Now, bring on the summer!

End of Year Reflection

Explore the Resource Center for more helpful resources. Or contact us to set up a demo. 

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