Reflective Practice and Assessment

WIL person in yellow flower field with mask

Reflective Practice is very popular and well-researched in disciplines that have an identified practice; teaching, nursing and social work for example. It is also becoming popular in other disciplines such as management and medicine. It might work for your unit or course if there is an internship, a placement or if you want to offer an authentic assessment task related to the professional realm students might be expected to enter.

The aim of Reflective Practice is to have an effect upon practice – to change it somehow. This assumes several things of the author; that they know about their practice, that they can choose an experience/incident upon which to reflect, that they know how to reflect in a way that will make a change and that they know how to implement and evaluate the change. Really quite sophisticated! Students need a lot of support! They can be supported by strong curriculum and assessment design.

It’s best to take a whole-of-course approach to Reflective Practice. This allows the course to know why there is Reflective Practice, what it is assessing, what skills are required and support students to develop these skills.

When designing your Reflective Practice assessment tasks ask the following questions:

  • Why reflection at this point in the curriculum?
  • What is the aim of the reflection?
  • What is meant by experience or critical incident?

How can students be supported to:

  1. choose and experience to reflection upon
  2. reflect upon the experience
  3. effect change to practice
  4. evaluate the change

Some tips for supporting students include:

  • Knowing what YOU want from the assessment
  • A robust rubric
  • Teach the key terms of reflection – critical incident, reflect, practice, experience
  • Examples
  • Allow them to practice – especially with their peers
  • Make students aware that reflection is linked to professional accreditation in many cases and is thus an authentic assessment
  • Let students know that it will be different from other forms of academic writing and how it is different
  • Base your assessment on a reflective model – we suggest Borton’s What? So What? Now What? 

Vikki Pollard

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