The use of portfolios and critical reflections on the portfolio contents has become mainstream methodology in Education today. Teachers of all grade levels and subjects and Professors in many faculties are asking students to reflect on their work. In many cases, the instructors are making this request of students without giving them instructions on how to begin. Many students do not naturally know how to reflect or why they should reflect.
To help students come up with meaningful reflections, I have developed the four dimensions of reflection. It is an adaptation of the best ideas on reflection by Dr. Helen Barrett (2008) that I have found so far. The four dimensions are:
1. Thinking back (connecting to past memories and experiences that relate to the topic) eg. What prior learning or previous life experiences come to my mind about this topic?
2. Thinking forward (considering future implications of the topic) eg. What aspect of this topic would I like to study further? How might this learning influence my future?
3. Thinking inward (recognizing feelings and emotions about the topic) eg. Do I have negative or positive associations with this topic? Where might that be coming from?
4. Thinking outward (considering other’s point of view on the topic) eg. How might a person from a different culture or religion view this topic? In what ways does that view differ from mine?