Experimenting with digital reflection

Name educator: Ruta Sargautyte

Name partner organisation: Vilnius University


Description of the course: It is an undergraduate course for Erasmus and Exchange students entitled “The Psychology of Ageing”. It consists of 32 academic hours of lectures and 16 hours of seminars. The course is optional. No prerequisites for this course. Mainly 2-nd and 3-rd year students from bachelor program in social sciences participate. Reflection methods are to be introduced as a homework in between the lectures/seminars.  The course begins by the middle of September and lasts until the end of December, i.e. it lasts the whole Fall semester. Lectures are delivered in a traditional form using Power Point, and seminars include discussing reading materials, watching video, visiting nursing houses, etc., i.e. some activities also outside the classroom.  In the course of semester students are required to prepare in pairs a Power Point presentations on selected topic. As a non-compulsory assignment, students are proposed to reflect on lectures/seminars/ recommended materials in a written form, and submit the file to the teacher in virtual environment.

Aim of the testing project:

The overall aim of the course is to prepare students from social helping professions to understand and meet the needs of the elderly. Taking into account that ageing is a sensitive topic, and that elderly in many societies are stigmatized, it is considered to be quiet appropriate to use reflection as a tool to explore the attitudes of students in order to combat the negative stereotypes and introduce contemporary knowledge on psychological processes of ageing and strategies of successful aging. The particular aim of the testing project is to verify the value of reflection as an assignment, which can serve as a substitute to the formal traditional assessment of knowledge.


Date(s) of the testing project: September, 2015 – December, 2015

Target group: Erasmus and Exchange undergraduate social science studies

Number of participants: 15

Nationality of the participants: Korean, Japanese, German, Polish, Spanish, Lithuanian, etc.

Sex of the participants: X females (13)   X man   (2)

Age of the participants:___20___ to___23___

Amount of meetings with the learners: 18

A Number of people reflecting:   Solo (1 person)   Small group

(< 20 people)


 Large group

(> 20 people)


B The way(s) of sharing:
Verbal: X


Non-verbal:   Pictures /


  Text   Em­bodied  sculpture


 Other forms of expression


Digital:   Padlet


  Social media   Digital diary


C Place of reflection (where)   Indoors   Outdoors   On-line


D. Steps taken to implement

How will you organize your testing project (or to put it differently: as this is a testing project for experimenting, what will be different comparing to the same course you run the previous time)?

In my previous courses I asked students to reflect orally in a group on the video watched in class and on the visit to the nursing hospital for elderly. This time I decided to give possibility to reflect individually on a regular basis, after each meeting.

I prepared the reflection assignment that I gave each time after classes and placed it into the virtual environment of university. Students could submit reflections in one week until the next lecture/seminar.

First, it was explained what was meant by reflection. Second, 2-3 guiding questions were formulated for each reflection assignment.

I graded the reflections as Pass/Fail. Every student got a feedback in comments, at least for the first reflections.

Different questions for different activities were formulated: what did you notice, how did you feel about it, how it is related to your personal experience, cultural background, and what could be done to make the things better, etc.

There were 10 reflection assignments in total, including the last reflection on elected Power Point presentation made by fellow students.


E. Your assessment of the outcome

In general, how do you look at the results of your testing project?

I consider the outcomes of the testing project to be quite interesting and promissing. The reflection assignment was not compulsory for my students, but nearly all students decided to do it, and lessen the burden of the final exam test in this way. On the other hand, the assignment was challenging enough to equate it to assessible part of exam.

F  Connecting with principles: which principle(s) were you taking into consideration mostly when facilitating reflection with learners? Please add 2 sentences about how you were translating the principle into practice. For more information: see postings on principles.


Raising awareness within learners to ‘own’ their learning in personally meaningful way

Students had a choice either to submit a reflection in one week after the event (visit, lecture, video, etc.) and have less questions to answer in the final exam test, either to take full exam after completing the course. This motivation, however, occured to be not sufficient to write many reflections as it really required time and efforts. It was challenging. Those who submitted reflections reported better satisfaction with the course, were proud of themselves, felt as if they really learned something new. It was also noticed that some students submitted reflections even when they were absent at the lecture/seminar. Probably, it was a good way for them to learn the missed material by reflecting.


Developing a relationship between educator and learners based on trust, openness, empathy, honesty, dialogue and feedback


Co-creating the reflective process



Managing the steering paradox of intrinsic learning processes



Creating the right reflective attention of learners



Slowing down and value moments of not-knowing,


Deepening your questions progressively



Recalling that reflection can never be imposed, only kindly invited.

Reflections were not compulsory. I wanted to find out, how many students choose to write a reflection. Statistics: there were 63 reflections submitted in total, 6 reflections/students in average for each assignment (out of 15 students), and fluctuation in the number of reflections was not big, 3-8 reflections each time, with no increase by the end of the semester (!). I would like to interpret it as an interest in writing reflections and as valuing responsibility to choose the topic for reflection. Only 2 students submitted 0 or 1 reflection during the semester, and the other  13 submitted from 3 to 6. I want to pay attention, that students were not aware about one another’s submissions as it was performed in virtual environment.


Always considering reflection as a broad and deepening process, that should be holistic.


Being careful how to asses reflection (or not at all)

It was my task to find out whether reflection can be assessed in the same way as the exam knowledge. Reflection occurred to be a solid enough task; otherwise, all the students do it every time to earn points for their exam. On the other hand, guiding questions should be formulated very carefully to get a complex reflection, not to get a pure confession…There should be clear criterion for writing reflection in order to be able to grade it. In my case, I could grade only Pass/Fail; it means Reflection/No reflection.

Worksheet 1