University of Wisconsin–Madison

Strategies for Developing Low-Stakes Writing Activities: Reflections

Semesters progress so quickly that many students don’t have the opportunity to sit down and reflect on everything they’ve learned or on ways they’ve grown as a writer or thinker. Asking students to produce occasional, but consistent, reflections will allow them to slow down and look inward to identify how the world and their work looks to them. There are many themes you can draw from in asking your students to reflect, and we offer one here: asking students throughout the semester to reflect on the class.

Reflecting on the class

Asking students to reflect on your course itself is one way for you to get to know your students—you can ask them why they’re taking the class, what they want to get out of it, what this class means to them, or how this class fits into their long-term goals. Asking these questions also builds in feedback loops so you can integrate their insights into your pedagogy.
 At the beginning of the semester, asking students to reflect on what they hope to get out of the class is a way to gain insight into your students’ motivations, their career goals, and how they’re approaching your class.

  • Example: “What are you hoping to gain from this class? What is motivating you this semester to do the work?

The middle of the semester offers a natural way station to think about how the course has gone so far. You can use this point to reset and recharge, as well as to solicit feedback in hopes of changing or improving course content or delivery for the second half of the semester.

  • Example: “How have the multiple drafts gone for you? What would you like to see done differently? And what do you commit to doing moving forward
  • Example: Now that we are halfway through the semester, go back and look at your first reflection. Have your motivations or hopes changed? What adjustments can you make?

By the end of the semester, you will have had the opportunity to hear from your students and adjust your teaching with some of their feedback. Giving students space as the class wraps up to reflect on what this course has meant or how they might take some of its lessons into their next adventure is a place to celebrate, grow, and learn more about your students as people.

  • Example: Look back at your initial reflections and intentions for the course. Write about how you think you did and if you’re where you thought or hoped you’d be.