Making Reflection Visible

The Problem

Reflection is often approached by students as a private activity. Revealing reflections tends to involve considerable social risk. Furthermore, reflective discourse is not generally accessible to undergraduate students. For example, students may reflect about what they are learning by producing a video diary.

The Context

Although relatively rare, there are some reflective discourses in popular culture that provide hooks to undergraduate students (for example, participants addressing Big Brother with ‘private’ reflections). Spoken reflection has fewer barriers to expression in contrast to more formal written reflection, but may be complicated by performance anxiety, especially if the audience is new. Students can express reflective thoughts when they construct a video clip by themselves about themselves. Such productions are facilitated when they have access to exemplar work of peers, and when the production can take place in a non-confrontational setting where they can rehearse. The video clip can be published to a wide audience of peers. Because this pattern relies on skills and access to video production systems (cameras, processing, storage, etc), it needs to be carefully scaffolded so that technical as well as social barriers to participation are kept low.

The Pattern

  1. Work out the technical aspects of the video production, particularly if large numbers of student are involved. These aspects include choice of equipment, video formats, video & audio processing, storage of content and the selection of platform to host the completed works. It is likely that substantial support material and personnel may be required in the forms of guides, checklists, exemplars, help forums and arrangements with technical people. It is a good idea to control the flow and storage of the content so that dependencies on other systems is minimised.
  2. Use a reflective scale (e.g. 4Rs) to prompt reflection. Suggest ideas for relevant reflections such as teamwork processes; their own knowledge of the unit content; reflecting on the development of an artefact etc.
  3. Document in detail, the workflow expected of students. What are they to do? This will help define the skills they need to acquire and the support you will need to provide. It will also help you identify the barriers (for example, psychological, costs, etc) and the benefits (assessment, better learning, etc) that face the students. Your job is to represent these so that the benefits outweigh the costs. Provide alternatives for students with different learning styles. For example, many students will want to prepare their video reflection by themselves, at home. Others might prefer to do it in small groups or pair – in an interview setting. Encourage different approaches to preparing and contextualising the video by allowing students to be creative.
  4. Consider how students individually or in groups will access the content and what tasks will be associated with it. As well as providing support, explain the criteria that will be used to assess their work.
  5. Promote the activity as both worthwhile and interesting. Link it to relevant genres in popular culture.

Related Patterns

Start Talking Reflection (STR)


Student videos in one year can become teaching resources in the next. Not just as exemplars for making further videos, but as demonstrations of learning-in-action through reflection. If past students are available, their meta-reflections (where they reflect on their earlier video productions) are a particularly powerful way of establishing the value and legitimacy of the process to new students.
This pattern is suited to early phases of a course, as students are in transition from spoken to written forms of reflection.
Students whose second language is English may need extra support, although they tend to do well in this modality.
It may take a few cycles of teaching this pattern before you achieve the success you desire. So it is a good idea to plan this type of activity over the long-term, starting with simple expectations and processes. Over subsequent semesters you will be able to refine the pattern to better match student expectations and accommodate changing technological resources.


Criteria for assessment based on reflective scale


Hinett, K. (2002) Developing Reflective Practice in Legal Education. UK centre for legal education.

Kuhn, Kerri-Ann, Russell-Bennett, Rebekah, & Rundle-Thiele, Sharyn (2010) Promoting student learning with online videos : a research agenda. In 2010 Academy of Marketing Science Annual conference, 26 – 29 May, 2010, Portland, USA. Retrieved August 16, 2011 from

Maher, A. (2004) Learning Outcomes in Higher Education: Implications for Curriculum Design and Student Learning. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Education, 3(2), 46-54


This pattern was initiated by Rebekah Russell-Bennett (Business).