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Community Engagement and Service

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Critical Reflection Resources

What is Critical Reflection?

Critical reflection is the process in which volunteers make sense of the service they performed and how it fits into the bigger picture.

Reflection is NOT:

  • All about personal, "touchy-feely" sharing
  • Sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya
  • Finding specific, concrete answers to big questions
  • Sharing negative comments about the group or service

Reflection is:

  • Asking thought-provoking questions
  • Connecting service to content learned in the classroom
  • Thinking about how to continue serving
  • Constructive comments or insights about partners or service
  • Evaluating the service project
  • A process

What's the point of reflection?

Reflection helps give meaning to the experience by providing a background context for volunteers about the organization or the need for the service performed or larger global contexts.

It helps volunteers evaluate their own experience and consider how they could continue serving and perhaps improve their service.

It provides closure to the service experience and brings groups together to form community.

What are some examples of reflection questions to ask?

  • What was the best part of the service experience?
  • What was most challenging about the service experience?
  • What is one thing you noticed about the organization we worked with today?
  • What is one thing you know now that you didn't know at the start of the day?
  • Over the next few years, what is one issue you would like to know more about?
  • What is service? What is volunteering? Is there a difference between the two?
  • Should service be mandatory for students or other groups?
  • How do you think you helped the world today?
  • What does Ghandi's quote "Be the change you want to see in the world" mean to you?

What reflection activities are there?

  1. Journaling: Great for individual volunteers to reflect on their experience.
  2. Group Discussion: Great for teams or groups after a day of service together to reflect 
  3. Creative Projects: Bust out your creative side and use photos, drawings, sidewalk chalk or anything else you can think of to reflect!
  4. Active Reflection Activities: Get your group on your feet for a hike or role play or a fast-paced game to think about their service. 

Where can I learn more about reflection?

Check out these resources to download here:

  • Introduction to Reflection
  • Why Reflection is Important
  • Ideas for Reflection Activities
  • 5 C's of Reflection
  • Linfield Reflection Handbook

Check out these online resources:

Campus Compact Guide to Reflection

Civic Reflection

Facilitating Reflection Guide

Reflections Journal

Cal Corps Reflection Guide