Reflection Toolkit

How do I introduce reflection?

If you have decided to use reflection in your initiative and may already have found an appropriate implementation method, one of the next questions is how to successfully introduce it to your reflectors.

Term How we use it on this page


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.


Ensuring that you keep the following considerations in mind should allow you to successfully implement reflections in your initiative.

This page will touch upon a few general tips for introducing reflection:

  • be positive about reflection
  • communicate its value to the reflectors
  • be clear on definitions
  • different people might like a different word for the reflective process
  • use reflection to introduce reflection.

Moreover, below are links to extra considerations for running reflective activities, posing reflective assignments, and considerations about digital footprints that comes when using online platforms for reflection.

Be positive about reflection

You have to be positive about reflection. If you do not see the value from the concept, do not teach it. When introducing reflection it will be clear to your students or participants whether you see the value or not. Without a clear reason and value behind using reflection, you will not get the reflectors excited to do your assignment or activity, which will reduce the value of the task.


Communicate its value to the reflectors

To introduce reflection effectively, it can be helpful to inform reflectors about the benefits of reflection and your motivation behind using it. This communicates the value of your teaching and assignments to the reflectors, and can encourage them to engage fully with the tasks.

Interviewing people about their experience with reflection, we consistently heard people saying they would have engaged properly earlier if only someone had made them understand the value sooner.

If you need inspiration for benefits to communicate to reflectors see the definition on the home page, or do a quick online search for benefits of reflection.


Be clear on definitions and ready to tackle misconceptions

One challenge in introducing reflection can be that people have different understandings and definitions of reflection.

This means that to implement reflection successfully you will have to make sure that everyone shares one understanding or definition of reflection. We suggest using the definition included on the homepage of the Reflection Toolkit, but if you have found/are using another one that resonates better with you, that can work equally well. The most important aspect is that you are consistent when using definitions.

Be aware that people might use different words or do not like the word ‘reflection’. Moreover, people use a different word, or no word at all to cover the same process.

Different terminology is especially seen in natural sciences or medicine, where words such as ‘review’ or ‘processing’ are common. Moreover, the process of working through a log book highlighting ‘things that went wrong’, ‘why that might be’, and ‘what to do to mitigate the risk in the future’ is familiar to many coming from the natural sciences.

Therefore, using words people are familiar with can be useful. Otherwise, speaking openly to people’s reservation with reflection and then define it clearly so that there is no doubt what you mean when you use it in your context can be helpful when introducing reflection.


Use reflection to introduce reflection

In practice, it can be helpful to ask a couple of reflective questions initially and let people work through them. When the participants are done, suggest that they just reflected and then state your definition.

This can be helpful as often the people who are against the word ‘reflection’ are not against the process itself. Using reflection as a means to introduce the word will allow people to experience the process and then reassign the word to it.  This, of course is just one way of doing it, but can be helpful.


Use the links to get to relevant sections for further and important considerations.

Introducing reflection as an assignment

Introducing reflection as an activity

Digital footprint considerations


Where next?

Hopefully, you should now feel more ready to incorporate reflection into your initiatives. The next thing to consider, if you have not already, is whether you should/want to assess reflection and how you go about doing that. Otherwise you can have a look at the types of reflective tasks you might use.

Assessing reflection (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit) 

Components of reflective tasks (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)

Lastly, you can see an important discussion about what effects audiences have on reflections, and what that means for you when using reflection in an initiative. It discusses authenticity and performance in reflection and how these two concepts affect what questions you should be asking, and the type of responses you may get.

Authenticity and reflection as performance – reflection with an audience (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)