Reflections Around Artefacts

The Problem

In some contexts, students have to see an artefact (something that is produced from their activity) to help them reflect on the processes that went into its production. Because creative work tends to involve iterative design that is so intense, reflection is difficult since it must compete with these other activities (such as the processes involved in skill acquisition). Students are so busy that they ignore that added effort involved in reflection.

The Context

A performance, where a designed artefact is presented to peers and assessors is an opportunity to prompt reflection. The performance (in the case of Fashion students, a Sample Review) is a time when the artefact is displayed in some formal setting and an audience prompts the student to express reflective thinking in dialogue. The artefact, the formal setting and the prompting can act together to reveal reflective thinking. This thinking can occur in the lead-up, during or after the performance. The “performance” in this case is drawn from the discipline (a review of design) and is reasonably formalised. Other disciplines have characteristic settings (e.g. business students pitching a business plan, education students demonstrating a lesson segment, a law student provides a legal brief). The key aspect to this pattern is the display of an artefact (whether it is a garment, a plan or a structured document) and the leverage that this provides to stimulate recall and higher-order reflection.

The Pattern

  1. Set up the design task with a realistic time-frame. Design, practical and creative skills usually require an extended time, so that students can work through developmental iterations. A clear task specification needs to be prepared so that students know what outcomes are expected, the time-frame involved and the ways in which they will be assessed. Depending on the context, students may need extensive scaffolding around use of time, resources, milestones and skill acquisition for example.
  2. Set up a private blog so that students can record their reflection on the processes involved in making the artefact. If the artefact is physical (such as an item of clothing), students may also benefit from a hand-written journal. Scaffold the reflective blog task with frameworks, exemplars and assessment criteria (if it is to be assessed directly). For students who have not had introductory reflective writing experience, provide resources for independent learning about this form of writing.
  3. Prepare the presentation event. This includes a running order for presentations, arranging people (such as a profession model, in the case of fashion artefacts), resources, recording equipment, etc. Photographs, videos and audio recordings are particularly useful because they can be used to capture dialogue that can serve as further prompts to reflection, following the event. Student peers can be engaged to act as recorders.
  4. During each presentation, students individually present their artefact to an audience of peers and academic teachers. They explain and provide a rationale for their design through commentary, but may complement this with other representations (e.g. diagrams, plans, patterns). During the presentation, the audience pose questions concerning design (perhaps around how the artefact matches the conceptual plan) and technical issues (perhaps around decisions they made). These questions serve to elicit verbal reflections that are captured directly (as a recoding) or as a recall stimulus following the presentation.
  5. Ask students to make a posting to their blog following the presentation. This writing can be structured to include multimedia elements (from the presentation). Because it is effectively second-order reflection, if it is an assessable piece, higher-order reflective thinking can be expected.

Related Patterns

Performer as Reflective Practitioner (PRP)
Second Order Reflections (SOR)


Because the artefacts may be made in controlled conditions, this pattern can come before or adjacent to related field studies. This pattern was trialled in Law by Tina Cockburn using a solicitor’s letter as the artefact.


This was a project done in 2009 with Maritime Museum in Sydney and students wrote blogs to document and ‘reflect’. ‘Sample Review’ images are captured in many of the posts.
Some highlighted extracts from the Unit Outline including assessment instruments that include reflective writing.



This pattern was initiated by Dean Bough (Fashion, Creative Industries).