Jumpstart Tip #4: Think about it!

          Reflect ... "to think deeply or carefully about"

process diagram with focus on REFLECT
Reflection, as a process, helps us discover personal relevance from life experiences and learning. And, that matters much more than checking off a task from an assignment list.

Is there a benefit in taking time to reflect?

Yes! It helps us embed our experiences into long-term memory.
“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” (...John Dewey)

In recent "jumpstart" posts, we've taken time to expand on what it takes to create an eFolio site as we've shared tips on how to collect (prepare) and select content that aligns with the purpose of your efforts. Most people discover that preparing their eFolio is more beneficial than meeting requirements of a course or applying for employment. The process itself extracts meaning because, at its core, it becomes a representation of who you are through what you have learned, tasks you have accomplished, projects you have completed, insights you have gained and the many ways you have developed as a person.

Reflection, applied to the content you've added to your eFolio site, involves much more than simply describing what you did. Reflection is a conversational thinking activity. When you contemplate what you did, what you learned, and the implication is has for you in the future, your learning goes deeper!

The term "portfolio thinking" is used to describe the process of intentionally relating learning and experience to life, but that does not happen magically. Reflection is not a slam-bang, done forever, one-time activity. The value of reflection is that it is continuous and magnifies experience over time.

Compare your transcript or resume to the pages of your eFolio. Why is the eFolio viewed as a more powerful communication format?
It is more powerful because you are able to share "who you are" across many dimensions with an audience of instructors, peers, future employment contacts, and others. Providing reflection--posted as written text, audio, images or video--you are able to engage people in your story. The format you use is up to you. (By the way, your resume and transcript are also important!)
The myeFolio team values reflection so highly that every major content form includes space designated for your private reflection. Later, if you want to make your thoughts public, content property settings allow you to display those at the item level.

How can you get started?
  • Instructors often provide specific "thinking questions" aligned to an assignment or project.
  • Diagrams by learning experts (J. Driscoll; G. Gibbs; D. Kolb) visualize the reflective process.
  • Sources of sample reflective questions (online or in print) might prove to be helpful.

Perhaps this animated video created by
the Skills Team at the University of Hull (England) will express it best.
Take time to view it before we continue with the remainder of today's post.

Click the VIEW VIDEO link if the player is not visible on your device.

Dr. Helen Barrett, well-respected as a researcher in the area of ePortfolios, talks about reflection as the "heart and soul" of the electronic portfolio. Quoted from her writing: "Ask three simple questions that tie the past with the future: What? So What? and Now What?"

Karen Barnstable, Faculty Advisor and Educational Leader, offers four ways to reflect:
  1. Thinking Back -- revisit a prior experience from a fresh and different perspective
  2. Thinking Forward -- think about how to do things differently in the future
  3. Thinking Inward -- consider your emotions and feelings
  4. Thinking Outward -- may lead to new ideas or theories used to explain or make sense of something
If you think about the preparation of your eFolio site as a task to be completed, it merely becomes a product, no more that the destination in a travel plan. However, if you think of it as a process, it will be your discoveries along the way, similar to the places or events you remember from a vacation trip, that have lasting meaning. So it is when you reflect on your learning. It probably won't matter in fifteen years that you received a "C" on your midterm paper, that you applied an incorrect formula to a math problem or that two members on your research team didn't pull their share of the effort. In the practice of reflection, it is significant to share thoughts you had throughout the experience, feelings about how your choices or actions impacted the experience and implications for you in moving forward. 

BOTTOM LINE: As you become more familiar with the practice of reflective thinking, it will fuel your curiosity and guide you to new discoveries about yourself and the world around you. As you take time to reflect, and share your reflections, it makes you more believable! You want this and myeFolio is a great place to share your learning reflections.

TAKE ACTION: Complete this Practical Reflection Activity using myeFolio.