We’re glad you’re taking the time to learn how to help your students understand the value of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ and apply them to develop deeper thinking. The previous posting in this blog series presented a brief overview about the trait link. This post features the critical thinking trait reflect.

I review my thoughts and experiences to guide my actions.

When students develop a working understanding of the trait reflect, they display continuous learning during and beyond a task, showing an awareness of thoughts, strategies, actions and the impact on people and learning. Students often use reflection to self-monitor progress and to evaluate their needs and actions, making improvements and adjustments for the future.

Why is the Reflect trait important?

Reflection is an important part of the learning process for students to examine their thinking and become conscious of what and how they are thinking. Application of the reflect trait should become a daily routine that occurs numerous times. As students monitor strategies and behaviors used to make decisions, to solve problems, and to participate actively in their learning, they evaluate if their actions produce effective outcomes. They also determine if they are confused or if gaps in understanding exists and share this discovery through conversations with adults.

By taking time to incorporate the trait reflect in all that students do inside and outside of school, they can purposefully think about their learning. This period of thinking allows them to determine the progress they are making and what they might do differently to enhance performance that leads to overall improvement.

What does the Reflect trait look like?

The reflect trait is observed in many situations such as: when you think of the words used in conversations and how you could be more positive, where errors often occur in math calculations and how that knowledge can guide your performance, what you can learn from a science investigation that failed, how you might use your mistakes to plan better actions in the future, what strengths your peers display in small group tasks and how you might capitalize on those strengths to improve your interactions, what effect your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions have on others, or how what you read or hear impacts your values and actions.

Some might find it easier just to move on and avoid thinking about past actions and experiences yet taking notice of happenings in the past can be useful to students. Teachers can guide students to use the reflect trait through discussions, questioning, journals, logs, and modeling. Students gain much insight from the trait reflect to consciously modify their academic and social behaviors which can result in continuously growing as a learner in school and throughout their adult lives.

How can I help students develop the Reflect trait?

The following questions can be asked of students to facilitate focus and application of the trait reflect. Feel free to adjust the vocabulary to promote understanding among students.

  • How does the trait reflect help you improve your academics? Your social interactions?
  • What could you change or do differently to improve your overall performance?
  • What strengths do you have? How can your strengths help you continue to improve?
  • How do you use the reflect trait to monitor your work tasks and actions?
  • How might your thoughts, emotions, and actions affect others?
  • How does reflecting on strategies help you solve problems?
  • Why does reflecting on your mistakes, misconceptions, or what you are unsure about increase your success?
  • What goals (based on your reflections) can you set to improve your learning?
  • What are examples that show how the trait reflect might be used in school, at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere in life?

In the next blog post, we’ll explore a ninth trait strive.