<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Step 5: Craft Reflection Prompts

Section I:



Next Steps

Section II:


1: Overview of

2: Overview of
Instructional Design

3: Reflection

4: Assessing
Student Learning

5: Capacity-building

6: Civic Learning

7: Theme-based
Course Design

8: Completing
Design of Syllabus

9: Scholarship
of Teaching
and Learning


Section II: Chapter 7: Course Design Process

Step 5: Craft reflection prompts to structure the assignments and activities

Recall the discussion of reflection in Chapter 3 of this Resource Guide. Reflection is best understood as the component of service-learning that generates learning; therefore, your task is to carefully design prompts to structure your students’ reflection, in conjunction with whichever assignments / activities require reflection. Chapter 3 suggested several models for structuring reflection across a range of activities.

  • A reading assignment may or may not require reflection prompts; it may be that the students will read more effectively if they have prompts in advance to focus their thinking as they read, but on the other hand it may be that you wish their reading to be more open-ended and to bring focus to their thinking instead during a subsequent class discussion.
  • A journal entry most likely will require prompts if your students are to use this assignment effectively to generate learning in accordance with the learning objective in question.
    • Note that you might wish to allow some of their journaling to be less guided or open to an objective that they rather than you determine. If you are using reflection in a journal to help your students achieve a particular learning objective, however, you will probably find it most effective to structure their reflection with one or more prompts accordingly.
  • The same principles apply to an in-class discussion, perhaps especially when the students are talking in pairs or small groups without you guiding the discussion. Reflection prompts will help your students focus their attention on the questions you intend, those questions having been designed to help them accomplish the learning objective in question.

Remember as well from Chapter 3 that your task is to design a reflection strategy for the course as a whole and that your strategy may well include multiple reflection mechanisms. Some of these reflection mechanisms may be oral, some may be written, and these two formats may feed into one another; some of these reflection mechanisms may be individual, some may be collaborative, and here again these two formats may feed into each other. Our sample includes examples of several reflection mechanisms, structured to build on one another and to increase in complexity as the semester proceeds.



Learning Goals

Learning Objectives (LOs)

Assignments / Activities

Reflection Prompts



Effective teaching


I want students to understand and be able to use Chickering and Gamson’s 7 principles for good practice




Students will explain the 7 principles in their own words

Assignment/Activity 1A

Read Chickering and Gamson’s “Seven Principles for Good Practice”




Assignment/Activity 1B

Bring to class a half-page explanation of each of the 7 principles and exchange with a peer for review and revision as needed

Reflection prompts 1B

Write a half-page explanation, in your own words, of each of the 7 principles, so that someone who had not read Chickering and Gamson could understand them

LO #2

Students will apply the 7 principles to their roles as teachers in the community

Assignment/Activity 2A

Design and conduct a series of interactions with a “learner” at their partner organization in which they implement the 7 principles  


Assignment/Activity 2B

Series of three In-class discussions: in pairs, share efforts to implement 2 of the principles and plans to implement 2 more


Reflection prompts 2B

Explain to your partner which of the 2 principles you have attempted to implement. Describe your implementation of each. Examine your implementation in terms of the results achieved. Repeat with the other partner’s experience.

Continue examining the 4 examples shared:

  • Why do you think you and your partner chose to implement these rather than other principles?
  • Which 2 principles will each of you implement next? Why?
  • Based on your experience to date, what results do you expect?

Assignment/Activity 2C

Journal entry on the 7 principles, with sub-entries after each session with a “learner”


Reflection prompts 2C

In each of your dated sub-entries:

  • Describe your interaction with your learner in detail
  • Which of the 7 principles did you implement in this interaction? Why?
  • How did you prepare yourself and your “learner” for this implementation?
  • To what extent did you achieve the results you expected?
  • In what ways were you most and least successful in implementing this / these principles? Why do you think so?
  • What does your reflection on this implementation suggest that you should do (same or differently) during your next interaction?

LO #3

Students will evaluate their implementation of the 7 principles with their “learner” population and the relevance of the principles for this population

Assignment/Activity 3A

In-class discussion of the similarities and differences between the undergraduate population (to whom Chickering and Gamson’s principles have most often been applied) and the “learner” populations with whom the students are working





Reflection prompts 3A

Drawing on your reading of Chickering and Gamson and your own experience as an undergraduate, what are the most salient characteristics of the undergraduate population?

In what ways does your “learner” population embody these characteristics? In what ways is this population significantly different?

What are the implications of these similarities and differences for your implementation of the principles with this population?

Pull out your work plan for the semester. Make note of specific ways you can implement the principles, taking into account this discussion.

Assignment/Activity 3B

Complete “7 principles” self-assessment instrument and collect completed version from your community partner by the last week of class


Reflection prompts 3B

On a scale of 1 – 10, how effective were you in implementing each of the principles?

In what specific ways, if any, were you effective in implementing each? Give at least one example.

In what specific ways, if any, were you ineffective? Give at least one example.

Assignment/Activity 3C

Write an end-of-semester essay on their attempts to implement each of the 7 principles, concluding the discussion of each with a judgment as to their own effectiveness and concluding the essay in general with a judgment as to the relevance of the principles to their target population

Reflection prompts 3C

For each of the 7 principles:

  • Summarize the principle in question.
  • What, specifically, did you do in order to implement the principle?
  • Summarize the results of the assessment instrument for this principle.
  • What are the reasons for your successes and your shortcomings in implementing this principle? Which of these reasons have to do with you and which have to do with the target population?
  • What do you need to change in order to implement it more effectively in the future? What challenges will you face in improving your implementation of this principle in the future? How might you deal with them?

For the 7 principles as a set:

  • What changes, if any, would you make to the principles in order to make them more meaningfully relevant for your “learner” population?

Mapped to the unfolding of assignments / activities throughout the semester demonstrated earlier is a parallel sequence of assessment activities. The instructor in our sample undertakes assessment activities as follows, given the sequencing of assignments / activities and given the design of her assessment strategy:

Early in the semester

  • Assignment 1B: peer feedback on half-page explanation of each of the 7 principles à instructor feedback

One month into the semester

  • Assignment 2C, first time: provide feedback on journal entries on the 7 principles

Two months into the semester

  • Assignment 2C, second time: provide feedback on journal entries on the 7 principles

Three months into the semester

  • Assignment 2C, third time: provide feedback on journal entries on the 7 principles

End of semester

  • Assignment 3B: collect self-assessment and community partner assessment
  • Assignment 2C: grade final journal
  • Assignment 3C: grade end-of-semester essay (essay on attempts to implement 7 principles, concluding with judgment as to their effectiveness and as to the relevance of the principles to their target population)