Students Reflecting on their Learning

Why is reflection an important part of learning?

Whilst most people engage in reflection on a daily basis, much of this occurs in quiet moments by ourselves. Most students are not used to reflecting on their learning in a structured manner. They need some help to develop skills in reflective thinking and writing. Whilst this skill may be new to them at first, they will become more familiar with it as they progress through Junior & Senior Cycle.

Through reflection ‘in’ and ‘on’ learning students can:

  • become more aware of the knowledge and skills that they have developed

  • identify strengths and areas for development

  • develop and action plan for future learning

  • gain greater understanding of themselves and how they learn

  • take more responsibility for their learning

Examples of how students can reflect on their learning:

  • Write about their learning

  • Talk about their learning

  • Set goals about their learning

  • Use peer/self-assessment

  • Make a video diary about their learning journey

  • Teacher directed reflection activity / worksheet following a period of learning, topic etc.

Prompts for Student Reflection

Aligning with our School Improvement Plan

SIP Target: To Increase percentage indicators to show that students have adequate time to reflect on their learning and/or feedback from their teacher.

Actions to meet this target during 2021-2022:

  • Subject Depts. / individual staff to explore a range of strategies to encourage students reflect on learning or teacher feedback which is linked the learning intention(s) and / or success criteria.

  • Class periods in 2021/2022 are moving to 1 hour. A short timeslot will be allocated from each class period to allow students time to reflect on what they have learned using learning intentions or on feedback given by their teacher.

  • Subject Depts. will endeavour to align subject plans with this SIP target. In initial Subject Dept meetings, respective subject teams should discuss strategies which will facilitate students:

  • having increased time for reflection on their learning

  • to reflect on and plan the next steps in their learning

Strategies & Approaches

Learning log

  • A learning log is a planned, purposeful, follow-up written response to their learning experience. These reflections can be kept online or in a special journal. They can enable a dialogue between the student and teacher on the learning journey. In some cases reflections might be shared in a small group or with a partner.

The purple pen for reflection

  • If you don’t want students to separate their reflections from their day-to-day learning, then you can ask them to use a blue/black pen when they are completing their work and a purple pen to write their reflections on their work. This will make it easier for them and for you to see their reflections in their copybooks.

Reflection and ‘self-talk’

  • Given our culture, students have difficulty realising that they need to engage in ‘self-talk’. To help students develop the internal voice of reflection, they can be asked to do the following:

  • Write a letter/text to themselves detailing what they learned from an experience.

  • Send themselves a letter of advice, reminding themselves what they can do to improve their learning/work next time they do something


  • This strategy gives students a structure to record their understanding of what they have learned.

  • It also gives teachers the opportunity to identify aspects of the lesson that need more attention, as well as areas of student interest.

  • Please see HERE and page 11 – Abbey VS Teacher Handbook, 2nd Edition.


  • This strategy serves several purposes: it elicits prior knowledge, it sets a purpose and it helps students monitor their progress.

  • By being aware of students' interests and prior knowledge the teacher has the ability to create projects and assignments that are challenging and that the students will enjoy. A KWL chart is a tool that can be used to inform teaching as well as guide student learning.

  • Please see HERE

Exit Ticket

  • At the end of class, students can be asked to write any questions, problems, concerns, or personal connections related to the day’s lesson. The exit slip can provide the teacher with some insights to help in planning the next day’s lesson.

Teacher Resources

Exit Ticket Template - Click HERE

Student Reflection on a Unit of Learning - Click HERE

Student Reflection Card – What? So what? Now what?- Click HERE

3-2-1 Strategy (JCT)- Click HERE

K-W-L Strategy - Click HERE

Examples of Subject Specific Resources for Student Reflection on Learning

Student Reflection on a Unit of Learning (JCT Geography Team) - Click HERE

English CBA 2 Student Reflection Template (JCT English Team) - Click HERE

Business CBA 1 Student Reflection Template (JCT Business Team) - Click HERE

Music CBA 1 Student Reflection on Composition Template (JCT Music Team) - Click HERE

Related Resources

Abbey VS Teaching & Learning Handbook (2021-2022)- Click HERE

Abbey VS Teaching & Learning Handbook (2021-2022)- Click HERE