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Reflection on the learning

When students become reflective about the teaching and learning process, they are strengthening their own capacity to learn. Central to this is the principal of reflection as metacognition, where students are aware of and can describe their thinking in a way that allows them to "close the gap" between what they know and what they need to learn.


Reflective learners assimilate new learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and translate thought into action. Over time, they develop their creativity, their ability to think critically about information and ideas, and their metacognitive ability (that is, their ability to think about their own thinking).


Effective Pedagogy, The New Zealand Curriculum p.34


What reflection means | Teaching and learning resources | Professional learning | Readings


What reflection means

Reflection is about students becoming aware of their own thinking processes, and being able to make those transparent to others. It enables assessment of the "why" and "how" of the learning, and what needs to be done as a result.

Reflection readily follows on from self or peer assessment. When students and teachers routinely reflect they will be able to easily describe:

  • what is intended to be learnt
  • where they have got to
  • the learning process
  • where they will go next
  • the learning culture in the classroom.

is the teacher's responsibility to support students to improve their skills in reflection. Teachers should model and teach reflective processes to the students, plan lessons to incorporate time for student reflection, and use those same skills to reflect on and improve their own practice.

Teaching and learning resources

Resources to assist teachers and students to become reflective about the teaching and learning process.

PowerPoint 2007 icon. Reflection using the six hats (Rise Up Academy) (PowerPoint 2007 103 KB)

Word 2007 icon. Reflective prompts for senior students (Word 2007 120 KB)

Professional development resource

Download this slide presentation for further professional development. It identifies strategies to implement and maintain reflective practices in the classroom through suggested readings and classroom activities.

PowerPoint icon. Reflection (PowerPoint 2 MB)

References and readings

Absolum, M. (2006). Clarity in the classroom. Auckland: Hodder Education. pp.142–163.

Clarke, S. (2001). Unlocking formative assessment: Practical strategies for enhancing pupils’ learning in the primary classroom. London: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 39–49.

Claxton, G. (2008). What’s the point of school? Re-discovering the heart of education. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Claxton, G. (2006). Expanding the Capacity to Learn: A new end for Education? Conference Warwick University, September 6, 2006.

Stoll, L., Fink, D., & Earl, L. RoutledgeFalmer (2002). It’s About Learning (and it’s about time), Chapter 2, entitled "Learning about learning".