Service-Learning Reflection

Why is reflection so important?

Reflection is at the heart of service-learning - doing service without reflecting is "like eating without digesting."

  • Explore service and the meaning behind service experiences.
  • Focus on learning from the community and environment.
  • Helps connect coursework with "real life."
  • Helps clarify goals and values.
  • Highlights strengths and areas needing improvement.
  • Evokes constructive evaluation of the effort, the school, and the community.

How do we do the reflection?
Reflection should be ongoing - it should happen before, during, and after engaging in service. It can be formal or informal, and can be facilitated through a variety of activities.
Most professors direct students to reflect on the service experience in writing. Some ask their students to give short presentations to the rest of the class, or to meet for regular discussions about the experience. Journaling is also a popular assignment.
Nearly every student must write a summary paper at the end of the service experience in which they deal with the following items:
  1. How the service experience helped the student learn the course material;
  2. What the student learned about him/herself;
  3. What the student learned about the world beyond the classroom, the world in which he/she had the service experience;
  4. What the students intends to do in the future about the issues highlighted by the service experience.

Types of Reflection for Service-Learning

  • Journals
  • Experiential Research Paper
  • Ethical Case Studies
  • Directed Readings
  • Class Presentations and discussions
  • Electronic Reflection

Service-Learning Reflection Guidelines
Writing about your service-learning experiences derives meaning from your service. Your reflection paper will enable your instructor to see what learning has occurred during your service. Ask your instructor for Reflection guidelines. Your instructor may give you a guide for this paper.

The Reflection Writing
An important part of the service-learning experience is reflecting on it. A Chaminade student explains:

"One of the differentiating points between volunteering or classroom learning as compared to service-learning is the heavy emphasis on reflection. Although some learning is gained through the actual physical service, I found . . . that the bulk and core of the learning is done during careful reflection . . . Rarely have I been asked to reflect on something, anything in school . . . However, reflection, in my opinion, is one of the very uniquely human things that helps us make sense of the world we live in and clarify our wants, needs, goals, and values."

Before, during, AND after your service, think critically! Some of your answers to the following may change over time.
  • What will/did you do? What is the impact of your service?
  • How do you feel about it? Why - What underlies?
  • What needs does your project address? What are the causes of those needs?
  • How do people contribute to the problem? How can we help to solve it?
  • What did you do that was effective or ineffective in service to others?
  • What did you learn about your own value to your agency?
  • What are you learning about yourself: your wants, needs, goals, values, skills, and attitudes?
  • How does your understanding of the community change as a result of your experience?
  • How do you see your role with this project? How does that compare with how others may see your role?
  • How does your service connect with what you're learning in class?
  • How can you continue your involvement in these issues? How can you raise others' awareness?
Your professor may ask you to write a reflection paper - follow the guidelines he/she provides.

View an example reflection paper

Contact Us

Service-Learning Office
Candice Sakuda, Director
Phone: (808) 735-4895
Office: Henry 117