Reflection Toolkit

The MasterCard Foundation Summer School in Transformative Leadership

Protected time for reflection is an important aspect of the development of the attendees of the MasterCard Summer School.


Over four weeks students from the MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program (see Case study: MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program) and other undergraduate students provide consultancy to local community partners, as well as develop their leadership skills through workshops and practice.

To provide the most meaningful experience for the students, there are a number of guided and non-guided reflective sessions, where students think about their successes, their challenges, and how to apply their newly gained knowledge to their lives.

­­Students find the summer school extremely meaningful, and find that the reflective sessions help make sense of their experiences and get the most from the programme.

Case Study for MCF Scholars Program (within the Facilitators’ toolkit)

Take away may include:

  • Guided reflections can be of great benefit to students to track their personal development and implementing knowledge from workshops into their own lives.
  • Giving designated time and space to reflection will ensure that reflection will happen.
  • Students benefit from reflecting both alone and with each other.
  • The more time a student has to practice and get comfortable using reflection the more natural and beneficial they will find it.
Location of practice:

The 4-week summer school is offered annually and takes place from late-May to late-June. 


Summer school students (open to all students, but a large proportion of them are MCF scholars).


The MCF Team, external speakers.


Students reflect daily on their progression as part of the summer school.

Time commitment: 

Reflection is built in throughout the summer school, therefore facilitators spend time on both running and preparing reflection workshops. This fits in with the overall time commitment of preparing and executing the 4-week programme.

Students have around at least 30 minutes each day of protected time for reflection.



Context overview

There are limited spaces on the 4-week summer school, which is an immersive experience to develop both the practical skills and the mindset crucial for transformative leadership. The summer school is open to first-year MCF Scholars and to all other undergraduate students.

Students participating in the Summer School for Transformative Leadership work in groups on projects with a community partner, functioning as consultants and providing a solution to a particular challenge. The summer school culminates with each group presenting their solutions to the community partner.

The students participate in workshops on various topics relevant to becoming transformative leaders.  Topics include leadership, design thinking and conflict resolutions.

Progress on the project and on individual development is facilitated through a number of reflective activities.


Introducing and implementing reflection in context

Students are introduced to reflection through sessions. On top of the introduction, students are provided with a reflective guide - a printed booklet with pages dedicated to capturing reflections with different reflective prompts.

Students attend different reflection sessions:

  • Morning and afternoon check-ins and check-outs (most days)

    • These 30-minute sessions allow students to start out the day by reflecting on and expressing their hopes, fears and feelings for the day. The check-outs allow students to reflect on how the day went.
  • Documentation and reflection
    • Once a week students have a 1-hour session where they can reflect on their experiences. Students are encouraged to stay away from technology and reflect in their own space.
  • Reflection sessions
    • Throughout the summer there are 30-minute sessions of facilitated reflection where students are guided to think about and discuss challenges, successes, what they have taken away from their projects, the different workshops, and the overall experience.
  • Final reflections
    • Students have a chance in smaller and larger groups to debrief the entire experience. This session is facilitated by the MCF team and students have a chance to consider what worked well, what could be improved, what takeaways they have, and how the summer school supports their future ambitions.

The reflection guide provides space and prompts for many of the sessions above. In general, the reflections have proved useful to implement learning and bridge the gaps between the sessions and the students’ own lives.

Reflections are completed in both groups and alone as there is different value in each approach. In groups, students can discuss and test their thoughts and be guided by others’ questions. Whereas alone, students can think deeper, spending time exploring more nuanced aspects of their experiences.


Response to reflection:

The reflective sessions are very helpful for supporting students’ experiences and development. Students get fonder of the reflective sessions as the summer school progresses and get into the rhythm of reflecting.

One interesting observation is that the MCF Scholars, who reflect as a part of their scholarship, find the reflection session easier initially compared to other students. This suggests that repeated practice can make reflection easier.


Assessing reflection

There is no assessment as a part of the summer school.

However, there is a large emphasis on the importance of engaging with reflection. Most of the prompts and facilitated sessions ask students to focus on both successes, challenges, and key learning points.  Moreover, there is focus on how to implement these learning points in the wider context of being a leader and planning to overcome their challenges.



The MCF Summer School in Transformative Leadership allows students to effectively develop as leaders while working with community partners on immersive projects. Reflection is key to developing their skills and being reflective is in its own right a quality essential to a transformative leader.

Further information: (External, information about the summer school)

Key contacts:

Johanna Holtan (Programme Manager)

Dr Pete Kingsley (Student Development Coordinator)