Reflection Toolkit

Components of reflective tasks: ways/modes of reflecting, structure, and type of assessment

Guidance on designing the three main components of any reflective task and further links.

Term How it is used in this section
Assignment Refers to any task completed in the reflector’s own time outside of lectures/workshops etc such as reflective projects, essays, or journals.  These may or may not be assessed.
Activity Refers to any task completed during lectures/workshops, where time has been set aside for the reflector, such as reflective discussions, group work, journal writing (with protected time), or presentations.  These may or may not be assessed.
Modes or ways of reflection Refers to the different ways or modes in which reflection often happens, for example in writing or verbally. Within the Reflectors’ Toolkit this is referred to as ‘Ways of reflection’.


On this page Elsewhere in the Facilitators’ Toolkit

Three main components combine to make the different types of reflective activities or assignments:

  • the way or mode of reflecting
  • the structure used
  • the type of assessment.

This page provides a summary of the choices for each of these components and links to pages with related guidance and information.

Keep in mind that your choices for these three components will primarily affect the way students choose to present their reflections, not necessarily the way they will actually reflect.

Drawing on the guidance and information provided across the Facilitators’ Toolkit, you should be well equipped to pose and run reflective activities and assignments.  A summary of the key topics covered in the Facilitators’ Toolkit and where to find them is available at the page below for ease of reference.

Key topics within the Facilitators’ Toolkit

The links below provide additional information about reflective essays, reflective journals/diaries/blogs, a simple reflective activity, and good practice for structure and language of academic reflections.

Reflective essays

Reflective blogs/journals/diaries

Simple reflective activity

Structure of academic reflections

Language of academic reflections


Mode or way of reflecting: prescribed or free choice?

When asking people to produce and present reflection, you can either specify the mode/way in which they should reflect, or allow them free choice.  The four main modes of reflecting are:

  • Written reflections
  • In conversation with self
  • Reflecting with others
  • Creative and with media

Within each of these, you can choose specific approaches. Typical ways of setting tasks within the four modes and related considerations are highlighted on the page below.

Modes of reflection: specific considerations and recommendations

Summative assessment is challenging when allowing a free choice of mode of reflection

Assessing reflection for marks can be challenging to do practically if you allow people to choose their own mode of reflecting.  For example, how long does it need to be if written, compared to the length of a video.  Giving reflectors free choice is easiest to manage when the reflection is for completion or in a relatively free activity with no summative assessment. It is possible to do with formative reflection – but might be challenging given the limited influence you will have.


Structure: prescribed or free choice?

Not prescribing a structure allows students to present their reflections in whichever way they want within the mode/way of reflection you have chosen. This can make it harder to grade, especially for written reflections. It may be possible to do when reflectors are speaking, where reflections tend to be presented more organically.

Requiring a specific structure will allow you to influence how the students present their reflection to you. If you require a structure, this often means either requiring a classic reflective essay structure or using a specific reflective model.  In the Reflectors’ Toolkit you can find both a series of reflective models and information about the reflective essay structure.

Reflective models (on the page ‘Reflecting on experience’ in the Reflectors’ Toolkit)

Academic reflections: tips, language and structure (within the Reflectors’ Toolkit)


Types of assessment

As discussed elsewhere in the Facilitators’ Toolkit, there are four broad types of assessment you can choose:

  • Voluntary – the task is not assessed and whether or not a student completes it will not affect any grade or formal outcome attached to the course or initiative.  In this case you have no real control over whether or not reflectors actually reflect and therefore you can only choose to support this – for example by guiding them to the Reflectors’ Toolkit – or leave it unsupported.
  • For completion – the only criteria for assessment is whether or not the task has been completed; the quality of completion is not judged.
  • Formative – the assessment is intended to support student learning, and performance in the assessment does not affect any grade or formal outcome attached to the course or initiative. The goal is to provide feedback to the students and instructor about students’ performances and help develop a way forward.
  • Summative – the assessment is intended to evaluate student learning through comparison with a set of criteria. Performance in the assessment affects the grade or formal outcome attached to the course or initiative. While feedback is encouraged, the purpose is the evaluation. An assessment type like pass/fail is an example of summative assessment.

You will find more information, guidance and examples in ‘Assessing reflection’.

Assessing reflection (within the Facilitators' Toolkit)

Modes of reflection: specific considerations and recommendations

An overview of considerations and recommendations for the four main modes/ways of reflecting.

Reflective essays

Guidance and information on using reflective essays.

Reflective blogs/journals/diaries

Guidance and information on using reflective blogs, journals or diaries.

Simple reflective activity

Outline of a simple reflective activity that can be used at the end of lectures/tutorials to ensure engagement with the material but only takes 5 minutes.