After the Service

Reflection and Assessment

Reflection is a key element of service-learning and should be completed by each individual participating in the activity.  The exercise can be completed individually or part of a group.  The reflection process provides participants the opportunity to reflect upon an issue in a larger sense and process the experience of partaking in an activity in which they interacted with community members.

Assessment can be tricky, especially with large-scale service project but it is imperative to the continued success of a project.  Students and service recipients should be asked to evaluate their experience.  Students should be asked to evaluate the training provided, the connection between the project and their classroom learning, what they learned from the experience and their interactions with the community.  The service recipients should be ask to evaluation the degree to which their needs were met, their interactions with the students (were they attentive, respectful, etc.) and their overall thoughts of the project.  This information should be used to determine if changes need to be made to the project for subsequent offerings.

Sample Reflection Questions

This toolkit was developed and made available by the Northwest Service Academy, Metro Center, Portland, OR in partnership with AmeriCorps.

Examples of Preflection/Reflection Questions

Preflection Assignment: The purpose of this assignment is for the program coordinator to get to know more about you and your interest in Service-Learning.  There are no right answers.  Save this assignment as LastName_Preflection and email it to the program coordinator email by the designated due date and time.

  1. What is Service-Learning?  Why is it useful?
  2. Why did you choose to participate in this Service-Learning opportunity?
  3. What do you hope to gain from this experience?  Think about skills, knowledge, attitude, etc.
  4. How do you think this experience might help you later in life? In your future career?
  5. What do you anticipate will be difficult about this experience?  Do you have any fears or anxieties?
  6. How would you describe your current attitude toward (insert some characteristic of placement site)?
  7. In your opinion, what is important about (characteristic of placement)?
  8. How would you describe your prior relationships with (insert population that student will be working with)?
  9. What do you think is a significant stereotype about (insert population that student will be working with)?
  10. How do you anticipate age, gender, and race will factor into your Service-Learning experience?

Reflection Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is for you and the program coordinator to compare your expectations of the experience to the actual experience.  There are no right answers.  Save this assignment as LastName_Preflection and email it to the program coordinator by the designated due date and time.

  1. After having completed your Service-Learning experience, how would you define Service-Learning and what do you think is valuable about it?  Can you think of any ways in which Service-Learning was not valuable to you?
  2. Did the experience of Service-Learning match your expectations?  Why or why not?
  3. What did you gain from this experience?  Think about skills, knowledge, attitude, etc.
  4. How do you think these experiences will help you in later life? In your future career?  Be specific.
  5. What was difficult about this experience?  How did your fears and anxieties about Service-Learning materialize or fail to materialize?
  6. How did this experience impact your current attitude toward (characteristic of placement site)?
  7. In your opinion, what is important about (field of study)?
  8. How did this experience compare to your prior relationships with (population that student worked with)?
  9. Were any significant stereotypes about (population) confirmed or disconfirmed through this experience?
  10. How did age, gender, and race impact the experience?
  11. Please describe your overall feelings toward your experience.  You may address what was rewarding, disappointing, surprising, or exciting.  What do you wish you would have done differently? What are you most proud of?

Additional Generic Preflection/Reflection Questions

Fill in the blanks in these questions in a way that is relevant to the specific Service-Learning experience that you are instructing.

  • What do you think of when you hear the word (________)?
  • Do you know anyone who is a member of (population)? If so, describe how this aspect of their identity has impacted your relationship with them.
  • What do you think will be difficult about developing a relationship with a person of a different (race, age, gender, SES, etc) than you?
  • What personal skills, knowledge, or experience(s) do you think might be beneficial to this experience?
  • What do you hope to gain from working with (population)? Think about specific skills and knowledge.
  • How will you measure your success in your field experience? Consider overt/observable measures.  For example, if you think you will become more confident in communicating with people of diverse backgrounds, how will you measure confidence? What does confidence look like or feel like?
  • What impact has (_________) had on your life?
  • How has (_________) made your life easier or more difficult?
  • How important has (_______) been to your education?  How important do you think it will be in the future?
  • Describe any stereotypes you have heard about _______.
  • Do you personally have any preconceived notions about _________?
  • How might (specific activity) benefit (population student will work with)?
  • How might you benefit from (specific activity)? Think about skills and knowledge that you might develop or hope to develop.
  • Do you have any significant relationships with (______)?  How has this relationship impacted your life?
  • How do you think that differences in (demographic factor) influence relationships?  Think about all stages of the life-course, from very young to very old.
  • What do you think will be easy or difficult about building this relationship?
  • What is your experience with community service?  Describe your most meaningful experience(s).
  • What specific skills do you have that might aid in this project (i.e. writing, interviewing, listening, creativity, etc.)?

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For reflection questions, you can use the same questions, but change the tense.  For example, what do you believe will be most difficult about building a relationship with an older adult? What was the most difficult aspect of building this relationship?

Preflection is about expectations, the knowledge they are bringing to the experience, and what they hope to gain.  Students answer specific questions, but are encouraged to elaborate in as much detail as possible.  It’s important that they are specific in their answers.  “So, you are nervous about the older adult’s preconceived notions about your generation.  What specifically do you think they might think about people your age? How might this affect your relationship?”

Reflection addresses the issues brought up in the preflection.  Students may be instructed to revisit their preflection prior to answering their reflection questions.  You should try to get at how the experience actually affected the student.  Were their concerns verified?  What was exciting or beneficial? Etc.