The importance of reflection

Connecting learning with the real world through reflections in ePortfolio

By Jordan Rogers & Rania Elmalky

The ePortfolio is a digital tool that fosters connections between the classroom and real-world experiences for students. Embedded within the technology are guided reflection questions to engage students in further developing the valuable metacognitive tool of reflection. [RJ1] 

Business Major

It made me have a less harsh stance towards the world. I used to be of the mindset that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but now I notice more that not everyone has the same privileges that I do, and I have a responsibility to help those less fortunate than I.

For decades, education researchers have explored the relationship between the reflective process and learning. Experience alone is not the key to learning and learning from experience involves reflection, a process combining both feelings and cognition (Boud, Keogh, & Walker, 1985).

This is the goal of a truly transformative learning experience, where reflection leads to an increase in students’ personal self-awareness and a higher capacity for future planning and remedial actions if needed (Cimer, 2011).

Dounas-Frazer & Reinholz (2015) operationalized a definition of reflection that goes beyond students just thinking deeply, but emphasizes how valuable it is when students return to an experience, attend to feelings and reevaluate experiences by linking the process to action. This idea suggests that bringing the experience into consciousness allows an individual to make active and intentional decisions about learning and growth. 

The reflective activity embedded within Career Connect’s ePortfolio is a critical component. Research has suggested that reflection allows students to raise their personal awareness by integrating cognitions and emotions and applying them to their future endeavors. 

Kinesiology Major

This experience taught me that being a physical therapist not only involves helping people physically but also helping people stay focused mentally on becoming better. I noticed that some patients were just ‘going through the motions’ of the therapeutic exercises. As a physical therapist I think that you need to find a way to communicate to patients, in an effective way that they need to have purpose and intent when they are doing an exercise. I also learned that physical therapists don't just tell patients what to do.

Reflection also provides an opportunity for students to further develop skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and communication. Furthermore, reflection encourages students to articulate the connections between coursework, skills, and career interests which fosters a holistic learning experience. 


Boud, D., Keogh, R. & Walker, D. (1985) Reflection turning experience into learning. Kogan Page, London. 

Cimer, S. O. (2011). The effect of portfolios on students’ learning: student teachers’ views. European Journal of Teacher Education, 34(2). 161-176. DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2011.552183

Dounas-Frazer, D. & Reinholz, D. L. (2015). Attending to lifelong learning skills through guided reflection in a physics class. Physics Education, 83(881), DOI: 10.1119/1.4930083