The web-site is now in readonly mode. Login and registration are disabled. (28 June 2019)

Encourage Reflection - Chosen Principle of Helen Crump and Jane Challinor

Cloud created by:

Helen Crump
1 February 2013

When learners reflect they make their thinking visible to themselves, monitor their progress, and reach new insights. The pattern of conducting an exploration and then reflecting improves inquiry projects. Integrating reflection with action comes up repeatedly in inquiry projects. In many cases prompts that intend to elicit reflection instead motivate learners to move on to the next step or to conclude that they were successful. Combining an experiment, investigation, or research endeavor with reflection can improve both activities but requires testing in the context of use to ensure that learners engage in productive reflection. Generating reflections on the topic helps students develop a more robust understanding of the material (Davis, 1998; Linn & Hsi, 2000) and, hopefully, promotes autonomous lifelong learning. 

Within an undergraduate Research and Professional Skills module, we propose that students develop a reflective blog to record and support their learning. However, the description of the principle only states that reflection "makes their thinking visible to themselves", yet typically a blog is published on the open web. Thus, publishing a personal reflective blog not only makes learning visible to the wider world, but also invites comments from that wider readership as well.

Question: What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog? 

Please submit your response by Mon 4 Feb - thank you!

Extra content

Embedded Content


Stephen Mackenzie
3:38pm 1 February 2013

be careful not to reveal confidential information - patient info/company financial info

If students are being asked to blog honest opinons about there place of work, maybe best not in public

be aware of your digital footprint and be aware of corrct etiquette and reputation management

be clear about what they can and cannot do with regards to copyright

be careful not to reveal too much personal information (phone number. address, DOB) and whereabouts

I could probbaly think of a few more and i think that the first two points especially may mean that blogging should be behind closed doors - but overall i am in favour of public blogging - i have some thoughts blogged on blogging - i'll send them through soon



Briar Jamieson
3:19am 2 February 2013 (Edited 3:20am 2 February 2013)

Helen and Jane, I have enjoyed following your tweets and when I have time catching up on your reflections. There are several things I would consider if introducing blogs: - how to support a range of learner ICT skills - amount of teacher support/feedback on all of the posts - how to build a culture of constructive peer feedback. Briar

Helen Guerin
7:15pm 2 February 2013 (Edited 7:16pm 2 February 2013)

Question: What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog? 

Hi Helen and Jane, 

From the learners perspecivte, they risk being exposed to ridicule by peer learners for being 'show-offs' and criticism from the public or subject experts for 'missing the point'. Personally I think reflective writing is most beneficial to the learners themselves, when revisited and reconsidered, and  also when given effective feedback from peers and learning facilitators. 

Regards, Helen

Tiffany Crosby
3:24am 3 February 2013

Question: What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog?

Hi Helen and Jane,

I've found that the internet affords people a certain amount of anonymity that seems to uninhibit their speech. People are much more likely to criticize, bully, and berate via the web. However, if the individual's comments are attributed to them and their profile is visible this (as it is in this course), that does significantly decrease this behavior.

The other challenge is that the learner worries about the critique of other participants and instructor(s) / facilitator(s). They may write what they think people have expected them to learn instead of what they actually experienced. This is especially true in certain cultures where a consensus and relationships are valued over open dissent or critique. I know I've worked with individuals where it was considered in insult to the instructor to imply that you did not learn the concept they were teaching.



Jeff Waistell
9:56am 3 February 2013

"Question: What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog?"

I really like the debate so far - especially Tiffany's concerns over cyber-bullying. What a shame that, when students are using the web to learn, others take the opportunity to engage in bullying and harassment, turning a learning opportunity into malicious gossip. How to prevent those who are hostile to learning from attacking learners? I would advocate that password-secured limited access as an option. Whether or not this was chosen, there should be a 'terms and conditions' attached to the blog, making it clear to readers that this is a learning environment, not a boxing ring.

What do readers think?

Best regards, Jeff

Jane Challinor
10:49am 3 February 2013

On the blog issue - our students are lucky in that there is a closed blogging tool within the VLE which could offer some protection from wider cyber bullying. But even in the wider web, blogs can be semi private and comments moderated. Part of what we need to do is teach students how to protect themselves online? 

The key principle here is reflection - does publishing on the wider web encourage more, deeper or shallower levels of reflection? For me, just the habit of writing makes me reflect on my practice. The publishing of that on the web is a discipline that makes me consider the what, the how and the when.

Helen Crump
12:15pm 3 February 2013 (Edited 12:18pm 3 February 2013)

 Yes, besides taking into account aspects relating to a "duty of care", I was wondering if reflecting on learning through a blog and with a public audience alters the nature of the learner's reflection, or indeed discourages them totally. I'm sure that if I was writing reflection purely for myself, and was confident that no-one else would see it, I'd be overly ebullient on some matters and quite brutal about others; and if I was producing a piece of reflective writing to be graded by a tutor, I'd generally be more restrained no matter what side of the positive/negative spectrum my reflection fell; plus now I'm finding that when I post something to my blog, it's usually something that I'm pretty confident I've learnt or that really makes sense to me. Hence, I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time about asking students, with their emergent and possibly fragile learning, to commit to blogging. Although it's generally assumed that blogging requires an audience on the open web, this need not necessarily be the case. If students are reluctant to publish reflective blog posts to the web, they could simply elect to write a post but not publish it, or they could choose to publish it with a password and then distribute that password to a selected audience. Or as Jane mentions use the blogging facility with the institutional VLE.

Notwithstanding all this, finding the right level of teacher support/feedback is crucial to encouraging reflection through blogging, and developing a culture of constructive peer feedback is just as important. And besides supporting a range of ICT skills, I think blogging presents an opportunity for students to develop their writing skills as well, and not just in the traditional sense but also in terms of digital writing skills (multimodality, hyperwriting, or whatever you want to call it).


Alice (Xin) Huang
3:21am 4 February 2013

Question: What are the dangers, or pitfalls, of asking students to post their learning reflections to a blog?

I am part of a team to design and development a degree program for Social Work. One of the learning activities for students is to keep a professional portfolio reflecting on their learning and their practice. We used to do this in a traditional paper way, now we adopt Mahara, an e-portfolio platform for studdents to post their reflections. And the question Helen put out for us is exactly the same question we have been debating. 

Compare to traditional paper approach, the biggest benefit of e-portfolio is digitalising reflection, so that it will be much easy to share, to store, to access or  for our case, to be assessed. However, the most dangers side of this approach, or my biggest fear is that we ask students to post their learning reflections to an e-platform, which, we - the educational provider has not yet fully undertand the what are the potential riskes or pitfalls, what danger we might put our students out there in the future. I would be very careful to use this approach on any topic that might cause ethic issues. 



Jane Challinor
9:39am 4 February 2013 (Edited 9:40am 4 February 2013)

Summary of comments:

there doesn't seem to be any argument with the principle of making thinking visible, only with the use of blogs.

Some pitfalls to design for:

  • accessing, editing and publishing a blog on line
  • our digital identity and professional practice
  • privacy settings and online safety
  • netiquette
  • giving and receiving feedback
  • writing for an audience

There is probably more but thanks for all the comments so far - this has been a really helpful discussion.

Jane and Helen



Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.