3 Strategies to Promote Reflection in Flipped and Active Learning Classrooms

Here are three strategies to promote reflection in flipped and active learning classrooms.

Flipped classrooms and active learning environments are dynamic, interactive, and busy. It's important to remember that in any active, experiential, or flipped experience, students may not necessarily learn from the activity itself. They learn by reflecting on it.

Students are immersed in the doing, and we have to make sure they stop, reflect, and make meaning.  This is helpful for students who are more introverted or naturally reflective to feel they have a chance to step back from the action and think about what they are learning.

It's also helpful for students who are naturally more active and extroverted to learn how to make connections and analyze course content through reflection. Both you and your students can also get overwhelmed or feel burned out when doing too many activities too often.

Quiet time combined with time for a reflective activity can help students make sense of what they've learned, assess what the information, and identify gaps in their knowledge where they need more examples or resources. I shared three reflective strategies in this Faculty Focus article, and I wanted to share a few more ideas on my blog.

I encourage you to do these activities in class with your students rather than assigning them as homework or a pre-class activity.  Remember, with the FLIP framework, the goal is to Focus on your Learners by Involving them in the Process. You want to involve them in these reflective strategies during class time.

Here are 3 more reflective strategies you can integrate into your flipped or active learning classroom.

3 Strategies to Promote Reflection in Flipped and Active Learning Classrooms

Reflective Strategy 1: 10 Hands

After you ask a question in class, wait for at least 10 students (or ever how many you want) to raise their hands before you call on someone to share their answer.  

Too often, we call on the students who raise their hands first which doesn't give everyone time to think before responding. Tell your students you want to give everyone time to think and process the question, therefore you're going to wait until at least 10 hands are raised.  They'll wait, and the hands will slowly go up as more students formulate their response.

Sharing this strategy with your students also lets the eager students who always raise their hands realize what you're trying to do so they don't get confused and stop sharing ideas.

Reflective Strategy 2: Collaborative Real-Time Writing Prompt

If you have access to Google Docs or another shared writing platform, give students a writing prompt or a question to think about during class time.  Post it on the Google Doc and give all students real-time access to the document.  

During class, allow students time to think and write together.  Watch the document come to life. You can also consider projecting their document on the screen so everyone can see how ideas transform and grow with more time to think.

Usually, we send students out of class to do this type of collaborative work, but if they are together in the same space with you and their colleagues, more discussion and in-depth analysis will emerge in real time.

Reflective Strategy 3: Read, Record, Reflect, & Review

During class, assign a reading. The reading could be a section of a chapter, an excerpt from a journal article, a chart or diagram to analyze, or a creative piece of work. Any type of reading task will work.

Ask students to read it and record any interesting points, relevant quotes, or confusing information.  They may record it in their notes, on a worksheet, on a computer screen, on the board, etc. It doesn't matter how they record it as long as they document what they see, think, or feel.  

This process makes learning visible, and that's what we want to encourage them to do. Give them time to go back and review the reading and make additional notes.  

You could end this activity by asking them to choose only one or two notes to discuss as a class, or you could do a follow-up activity with their notes that allows everyone to share their ideas.

The point of this reflective activity is to guide students through reading for critical analysis, not just for comprehension. Slowing down and giving them time to do all four parts of reading, recording, reflecting, and reviewing encourages them to re-read and to think, not just to react.