Reflection papers. What’s that?

“What do you write in a reflection paper?”, I got asked by a first year ECM student in the autumn semester. Then, I remembered that it wasn’t until I started the program that I wrote one. I will try to explain: 

These reflection papers are non-graded assignments required to pass a course, and I would say the content can vary because it is a personal reflection about the activities, group work, discussions… basically, the course! Last year, we wrote one reflection paper every time we finished a course, and all courses involved some sort of practical and
independent work in groups. We wrote a reflection paper about The Movie Week in our first course, a second about our experience conducting field research (interviewing people working on Green Infrastructure plans at the County Administrative Boards), a third after our research on water management (topic chosen in my group) and trip to Gotland… and I just wrote one last reflection paper for the Governance of natural resources course I took.

The aim of these reflection papers is, as I understood, that we take time to think about the experience, how we learn, what we learnt from the course, how this relates to the literature, and what we could have improved. My own “reflection” now is that ECM courses are intense in terms of applying what we learnt from class and from the literature readings to “the real world” in a relatively short period of time, plus involving group work in the process. So, in my view, the reflection paper may just be the “hand brake” exercise to be forced to stop, reflect, write and later on read it and think “look at what we did!”  

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