Scaffolding Reflection with Adolescent and Adult Learners
This web page provides information on scaffolding reflection with high school
students and adult learners. First, a definition:
Reflection is a form of mental processing – like
a form of thinking – that we use to fulfill a purpose or to achieve
some anticipated outcome. It is applied to relatively complicated or
unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution and is
largely based on the further processing of knowledge and understanding
and possibly emotions that we already possess (based on Moon 1999).
An electronic portfolio provides an environment where students can: collect
their work in a digital archive; select specific pieces of
work (hyperlink to artifacts) to highlight specific achievements; reflect
on the learning demonstrated in the portfolio, in either text or multimedia
form; set goals for future learning (or direction) to improve;
and celebrate achievement through sharing this work with
an audience, whether real or virtual. When used in formative, classroom-based
assessment, teachers (and peers) can review the portfolio document, and provide
formative feedback to students on where they could improve.
Below are some excellent resources on Reflection
The questions below come from Student
Employability Profiles: A guide for higher education practitioners (3MB PDF) published by The Higher Education Academy
with the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) in the United Kingdom.
Raising self-awareness is a prerequisite to building up lifelong learning
capabilities. Many courses have key points during study when students are
tasked with reflecting on and evidencing their achievements. The results can
be fed into the writing of CVs and Progress Files. The following questions
may be used by students, guided by tutors or lecturers, to help with reflection
and evidencing. Students should also be encouraged to consider any work experience
and or voluntary and extracurricular activities.
Students may use these questions in conjunction with the template when reflecting
on skill development and undertaking personal development planning (PDP).
The list is not exhaustive; it is designed to stimulate the student to reflect
on the skills that they are practicing, to raise self-awareness and the ability
to articulate these skills. Using this approach will also help students become
familiar with competency based interviewing and assessment.
Maintains and inspires a results-driven approach, focuses on results and
critical performance indicators.
- Recall an important goal that you were set in the past. What strategies
did you use to achieve it? What was successful?
- How do you meet tight deadlines?
- Thinking about a difficult task you were required to undertake, what extra
effort did you exert to achieve the goals set and accomplish a task?
- Thinking about a time when you did not achieve a goal or meet a deadline,
what did you do? What was the outcome?
- Can you recall a time when you were particularly effective on prioritising
tasks and completing a project on schedule? How did you approach this and
what was the outcome? What did you learn?
- Describe a project or idea that was implemented primarily because of your
efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
- There are times when we work without close supervision or support to get
the job done. Think about a time when you found yourself in such a situation.
What did you do? What was the outcome?
Maintains effectiveness in a changing environment.
- Consider a time when you had to adopt a new approach or style to accomplish
a task. How did you manage the transition?
- Think about a situation in which you had to adjust to a colleague’s
working style in order to complete a project or reach your objectives. What
did you do?
- What do you do when priorities change quickly? Thinking about an example
of when this happened, what did you do? What was the outcome?
- Consider an example of an important goal that you set yourself in the past.
Thinking about your success in reaching it, how did you approach it?
- Reflect on a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which
you had no control. How did you handle it?
- What tends to work with one person does not necessarily work with another.
Think about a time when you had to be fl exible in your style of relating
to others. How did you vary your communication style with a particular individual?
What was the result?
Relates and compares data from different sources, identifying issues, securing
relevant information and identifying relationships.
- When you have to analyse information and make a recommendation, what kind
of thought process do you go through? What is your reasoning behind your decision?
- How do you ensure you have captured the key information from written or
verbal information presented to you?
- What are your considerations when presenting a solution to a work issue?
- When presented with a problem, how do you go about fi nding a resolution?
- How do you deal with data from a variety of sources, to identify the key
- How would you identify appropriate data sources to inform your decisions?
- When presented with several points of view what do you do to ensure you
reach the most appropriate conclusion?
- How do you distinguish between different types of information provided
to inform your conclusions?
Attention to detail
Accomplishes tasks through a concern for all areas involved, no matter how
- How do you deal with minor considerations as part of a bigger task?
- What level of feedback do you request from others on ideas or suggestion
you have for a project?
- What checks do you put in place to ensure written work is correct?
- How do you ensure the facts that you have are correct and complete?
- When undertaking a specifi c project or task, how do you ensure details
are not overlooked?
Understands the economics of the business. Understands the business benefi
ts and commercial realities from all stakeholder perspectives (customer, supplier,
employer, employee, shareholder etc.).
- Consider a commercial activity you have been involved in, either paid work,
voluntary work, participating in fundraising and so on. Think about the issues
you have come across and how these might infl uence the wider activity. Do
you look at this from one perspective, e.g. monetary, or do you take other
elements into account such as marketing and selling and how these infl uence
- When considering economic issues, do you consider business implications
such as increased revenue/profi t, decreased expenditure, increased productivity,
and improved company image and market share?
- Have you ever identifi ed a business opportunity? How did you go about
it? What did you consider?
- How would you go about developing a business plan for e.g. getting a job?
Do you consider the commercial constraints that might be applied when looking
- Do you analyse fi nancial trends (e.g. income, spend, surplus, defi cit)
and forecast accordingly when setting your personal budget?
Generates and/or recognises how best practice and imaginative ideas can be
applied to different situations.
- Think about a problem that you have solved in a unique or unusual way.
What was the outcome? Were you satisfi ed with it?
- When presented with a variety of different scenarios, what is your preferred
course of action?
- How do you approach a conventional task?
- How do you attempt to break deadlock situations?
- We sometimes fail to consider new ideas because they seem untried and/or
untested. Describe a time when you found yourself in a situation similar to
this. What happened?
- What do you do to encourage self / others to think laterally and to generate
- How do you present an idea that you know may be considered unusual to your
- Think about the most signifi cant or creative presentation which you have
had to complete.How did you approach it? What was the result?
Makes decisions and takes action.
- When making a controversial decision how do you deal with criticism?
- How do you feel about making work commitments on behalf of other people?
- What do you do when something needs to be done but no one is there to give
- How do you go about getting agreement to a new idea?
- How do you make a decision based on incomplete information?
- Whose needs are most important in the decision making process? How do you
Understands basic fi nancial terminology used in organisations and is able
to construct and maintain simple fi nancial records.
- How do you plan the costs of a project or activity?
- What fi nancial aspects do you consider when setting up a project/activity?
How do you measure that you are on target?
- How do you know what fi nancial expectations/demands might be made in the
life cycle of a project/activity?
- How might you control over or under spending on a project/activity?
- How do you go about managing your personal fi nances?
Presents a strong, professional, positive image to others at all times. This
image is consistent with all people (colleagues, management and peers, customers
- How do you present yourself when meeting people for the fi rst time? What
do you pay special attention to?
- How do you introduce yourself in social gatherings or new and different
- What do you do to ensure people listen to your ideas?
- What do you refl ect on at the end of the working day? Do you spend more
time on what went well and why, or do you analyse the problems that occurred?
- How would the people you work with/your friends, describe you?
- How do you know when your boss and / or friends value your contribution?
Influences others by expressing self effectively in a group and in one to
- Describe a time when you were able to convince a sceptical or resistant
person to purchase a product or use your skills?
- Think about a specifi c instance in which you were able to encourage others
to take a chance with a new idea or project. What did you do?
- Describe a situation in which you were able to positively infl uence the
actions of others in a desired direction. How did you approach it? What happened?
- Consider a time when you used your leadership ability to gain support for
what initially had strong opposition. What was the outcome?
Identifies opportunities and is pro-active in putting forward ideas and
- What was the best idea that you came up with in your studies? How did you
apply it? What was the result?
- Think about the last time that you undertook a project that demanded a
lot of initiative. How did you approach it? What was the outcome?
- Recall a time when you had to use your verbal communication skills in order
to get a point across that was important to you. How did you plan for this?
What was the result?
Recognises and respects different perspectives and appreciates the benefits
of being open to the ideas and views of others.
- It is sometimes diffi cult to form an amicable relationship with new people.
Think about an example of how you have coped with such a situation. What did
- Give a specifi c example of a time when you had to address an angry colleague.
What was the problem? What was the outcome? How would you assess your role
in diffusing the situation?
- Think of an example when you initiated a change in a process or operations
in response to feedback. What happened?
- It is very important to build good relationships at work. Consider a time
when you built a successful relationship with a diffi cult person. What did
you do? What was the outcome?
- Being successful in a task/activity often depends upon having good relationships
with others. Think about a time that you were able to accomplish a task because
you had such a relationship with another person. How did this impact your
- Consider a time when you built rapport quickly with someone under diffi
cult conditions.What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Consider the key ingredients in developing and maintaining successful formal/business
relationships? Think about how you made these work for you. What was the situation?
What outcomes did you achieve?
Determines the most appropriate course of action and draws conclusions that
are based on logical assumptions that reflect factual information.
- What approach do you use to provide a rational solution to a problem?
- How selective are you in the use of relevant, available information?
- When supporting your point of view, what are your key considerations?
- How do you react to complex information when trying to reach a conclusion?
- What information do you take into account before coming to a conclusion?
- What do you do if your course of action is not accepted?
- How do you react to having more than one solution provided to solve an
- What do you do when other people put forward ideas to help solve problems?
Takes responsibility for the directions and actions of a team.
- When working on a team project have you ever had an experience where there
was strong disagreement among team members? What did you do?
- Describe your leadership style and give an example of a situation when
you successfully led a group.
- Tell about a time that you had to work on a team that did not get along.
What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
- Tell about a time when you were able to build team spirit in a time of
- Tell about a time when you were able to gain commitment from others to
really work as a team.
- How have you recognised and rewarded a team player in the past? What was
the situation? What did you do?
Lifelong learning and development
Develops the skills and competencies of self, peers and colleagues through
learning and development activities related to current and future roles.
- What have you done outside of formal study to develop your skills?
- Have you created a specifi c development plan? How did you identify your
needs? What were the components of the development plan? What was the outcome?
- There are times when people need extra help. Think about an example of
when you were able to provide that support to a person with whom you worked
/ studied. What did you do? What was the result?
- Think about a time when you had to accept change and make the necessary
adjustments to move forward. What were the change / transition skills that
- It is important to maintain a positive attitude at work when you have other
things on your mind. Thinking about a situation when you were able to do that,
what was the outcome?
- Keeping others informed of your progress / actions helps them feel comfortable.
What do you do to keep your lecturer/supervisor advised of the status on projects?
- Think about a time when you took responsibility for an error and were held
personally accountable. How did you feel? What did you do?
- When you have been made aware of, or have discovered for yourself, a problem
in your work performance, what was your course of action? How did you resolve
the situation? What did you learn?
- What have you done to further your own professional development outside
of your formal studies?
Shows by a range of verbal and non-verbal signals that the information being
received is understood.
- How do you ensure people know that you have taken account of their views?
- Think about a time when your active listening skills really paid off for
you. What was the situation? What did you achieve?
- What have you done to improve your listening skills?
- Thinking about a situation when you had to present complex information,
how did you ensure that the other person understood?
- Think about a recent successful experience in making a speech or presentation.
How did you prepare? What obstacles did you face? How did you handle them?
- Consider a time when you were particularly effective in a talk you gave.
What was different in making it effective?
Understands the organisation’s work environment, internal politics,
business objectives and strategy.
- Describe how you are able to contribute to an organisation’s / a
job’s goals. What are the goals/mission?
- How do you keep your knowledge up to date with the ongoing changes in the
industry you are considering working in?
- Consider a politically complex work situation in which you worked. What
did you do?
- How do you ensure you are familiar with the relevant internal processes
of an organisation?
Is sensitive to the effect of his or her actions on other parts of the organisation
and adopts a mature, direct and up front style in dealing with confl ict.
- Consider a time when you made an intentional effort to get to know someone
from another culture. What did you do? What was the outcome?
- What have you done to further your knowledge/understanding about diversity?
How have you demonstrated your learning?
- Consider how your values and beliefs impacted your relationships with others.
How do you know?
- What measures have you taken to make someone feel comfortable in an environment
that was obviously uncomfortable with his or her presence?
- Think about a time when you had to adapt to a wide variety of people by
accepting/understanding their perspective. What was the outcome? What did
- Consider a situation when you successfully adapted to a culturally different
environment. What did you do?
- Think about a specifi c example of how you have helped create an environment
where differences are valued, encouraged and supported. What did you do?
- Think about a time when you were particularly perceptive regarding a person’s
or group’s feelings and needs. What did you do? What feedback did you
get / seek?
- How have you reacted to conversations between others that were clearly
offensive to non-participants? What did you do?
- Think about a time that you evaluated your own beliefs or opinions around
issues of difference. What did you do?
Maintains an up to date personal development plan and takes action to ensure
personal development takes place.
- How do you record your achievements?
- How do you decide whether a task has gone well or not and what you would
do differently next time?
- What activities do you undertake to develop your skills?
- How do you fi nd opportunities to develop your skills and competencies?
- How often do you update your learning log?
- What do you do to gain feedback on your performance?
Planning and organising
Establishes a course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a specifi
c goal. Plans proper assignments of personnel and appropriate allocation of
- How do you typically plan your day to manage your time effectively?
- How do you differentiate and prioritise short and long term needs?
- How do you plan for a meeting to ensure the required outcomes are met?
- What processes do you put in place before starting a project?
- What do you do to manage and monitor an assignment or project to a successful
- How do you ensure deadlines you are given are met? How do you know?
- What processes do you use to achieve tasks and assignments within the required
- What action do you take to meet changing work priorities that affect others
as well as yourself?
- How do you keep track of work schedules and deadlines?
Begins, controls and concludes a complete process or procedure.
- What do you do to ensure you are familiar with relevant company processes
- How do you ensure that you are implementing these in the correct way?
- Why is it important to operate processes and procedures effectively? What
might be the impact of not doing this?
Keeps up to date with developments in own areas of professional specialisation.
Applies a breadth and/or depth of professional knowledge.
- What do you do to ensure you are up to date in your area(s) of speciality?
How do you ensure that any new information is applied effectively into your
- Effectively presents professional information to others.
- When planning, designing and implementing solutions, how do you make best
use of your professional knowledge?
- How do you share professional expertise with others?
- What opportunities do you create to demonstrate knowledge of the latest
methodologies and processes in your specialist area?
- Are you, or are you planning to be, part of a professional network?
- Do you actively seek new people to become part of your professional network?
- Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
- Think about a specifi c time when you had to handle a tough problem that
challenged fairness or ethical issues. What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Think of examples of how you have acted with integrity in your job/work
- Describe a time when you were asked to keep information confi dential.
What did you learn about yourself?
- Trust requires personal accountability. Consider a time when you chose
to trust someone? What was the outcome?
Uses an appropriate approach to questioning in order to gain information
from which to draw conclusions and/or assist in the making of decisions.
- Because people have different preferences, what works with one person does
not necessarily work with another. Consider a situation where you had to be
fl exible in your style of relating to others in order to achieve your goals.
How did you vary your communication style with a particular individual? What
- Think of a situation when you had to use your verbal communication skills
in order to gain information that was important to you. How did you approach
this? What was the outcome?
- Refl ect on a situation when you had to present complex information. How
did you ensure that the other person understood?
Teamwork/working with others
Builds and develops appropriate relationships with academic staff, peers,
colleagues, customers and suppliers at all levels within an organisation.
- Think about an example of how you worked effectively with people to accomplish
an important result. What did you do? What was the result?
- Consider a situation when you have been successful at empowering a group
of people in accomplishing a task. What did you do? Why did it work well?
- Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help
others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was
the end result?
- Think of your best example of working co-operatively as a team member to
accomplish an important goal. What was the goal or objective? To what extent
did you interact with others on this project?
- Think about the most diffi cult challenge you have faced in trying to work
co-operatively with someone who did not share the same ideas? What was your
role in achieving the work objective? What was the long term impact on your
ability to get things done while working with this person?
- Gaining the attention of others can be diffi cult. Think of a specifi c
example when you had to do that in order to achieve a team goal. What did
- Think about a work experience where you had to work closely with others.
How did it go? How did you overcome any diffi culties?
- Think about a team project. What did you do to contribute toward creating
a teamwork environment?
May 17, 2011
- ©2008, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.