Reflective learning – the ‘how’ and ‘why’

08 July 2020

The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of (reflective) learning –

Have you ever asked yourself exactly HOW you learn? Have you ever asked yourself exactly WHY you learn in a particular way?

Now for the next question: Have you ever heard of REFLECTIVE LEARNING?

Let’s start from the beginning. We will determine why these 3 questions were asked and we will find out more about reflective learning.

If you reflect whilst you are learning it means that you become aware of your own thinking processes.

You become aware to such an extent that you are able to explain these processes – in other words what you have just learned – to others.

It also means that you think about what you have read, done or studied and you make meaning out of the material. This is much more than merely memorising facts, formulas and/or dates.

If you manage to do this well, it will have a positive impact on your results as well.

This explains why reflective learning is so important.

Without many people realising it, reflection is part of the process of how humans learn. You might not be aware that you are doing it – to some extent anyway – but the bottom line is that if you are learning you cannot avoid reflection.

Reflective learning builds stronger connections between learning experiences – it helps you to remember study material for longer and to truly understand the content.

If you want to determine whether this is indeed true, assess yourself or rope in the help of one of your peers to assess WHAT you remember and HOW WELL you remember the content of a specific section of a particular subject.

Reflective learning also helps you to develop critical thinking skills and these skills help you to improve your future academic performance. As your thinking skills improve you become better over time at analysing what you have learned. These thinking skills are vital once you go to university or enter the work place.

By now it will be clear to you that reflective learning is not a one-off event. Reflective learning is an ongoing process. Reflective learning empowers you to move forward in life. It is invaluable when any problem-solving needs to be done, something everyone has to do on a regular basis.

If you master reflective learning you will soon realise that you have advanced on the path of independent learning as well.

Bear in mind:

7 important traits of a reflective learner are:

• I build on past learning experiences and learn from them.
• I ask pertinent questions.
• I can be responsible for my own learning.
• I always try to improve.
• I try to gain new knowledge – and new skills – whenever possible.
• When I have gained new knowledge, I take action or implement what I have learned.
• When I have gained new skills, I practice these to hone them.

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