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Time to Reflect

8 Feb 2021
Students on placement with Wild Work recorded their reflections as a Podcast for sharing on the Wild Work website.

At all levels of community engaged learning, an emphasis should be placed on reflection. Students require the space and opportunity to reflect on the intersection between their disciplinary content, the wider world, and their interactions (where applicable) with the community organisation. Introducing civic engagement into your teaching approaches, especially when there are planned interactions with community organisations, could challenge students’ predisposing ideology or shine a light on social inequalities in which society’s or their discipline’s actions have been complicit in cementing. 

These emerging thoughts may be difficult to work through without a reflection framework. For these and other reasons, it is important to build in reflection practices into your community engaged learning initiatives. The more structured and immersive your community engaged activity is, the greater the emphasis on reflection, such as requiring students to record their reflections following each classroom and/or community-based session, exchange these reflections with peers, and submit these reflections as part of their overall course assessment.  

Gibb’s reflective cycle is a well-known reflective tool used in third level. 

“Gibbs' Reflective Cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 to give structure to learning from experiences.  It offers a framework for examining experiences, and given its cyclic nature lends itself particularly well to repeated experiences, allowing you to learn and plan from things that either went well or didn’t go well. It covers 6 stages:  

Description of the experience  

Feelings and thoughts about the experience  

Evaluation of the experience, both good and bad  

Analysis to make sense of the situation  

Conclusion about what you learned and what you could have done differently  

Action plan for how you would deal with similar situations in the future, or general changes you might find appropriate”  

The University of British Columbia provide a useful guide for reflection (Community Engaged Learning Reflection Framework) that can be applied to a diverse range of Community Engaged Learning Initiatives.   

In Practice

The creative approach taken in UCC's Community University Biodiversity Action (CUBA) partnership is a good example, where students on placement with Wild Work recorded their reflections as a Podcast for sharing on the Wild Work website, as part of the wider CUBA initiative. Community University Biodiversity Action (CUBA) is a partnership initiative between SECAD Partnership, Cork communities and University College Cork.  

For more on this story contact:

This Practice Insight is published by @UCC_CIRTL and @UCC_Civic as part of the CE Toolkit for embedding civic and community engagement in the curriculum. Discover more about How to Cultivate Core Values here.

Enquiries on the Community University Biodiversity Action initiative can be sent to

Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)

West Lodge, Main Campus,