148 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
better (Excerpt #6 and #8), a deeper appreciation of how to work with
children who live different lives from us, or a greater awareness of self
These and other similar reflections could be labeled as ‘high quality’
because they are truly “reflective” about values, beliefs, actions and
feelings, not merely a summary of the activity that the student does. In
such reflections, we found students discussing what they could improve
or change next time, talking about how they felt versus what they did,
and sometimes (like in excerpt #7), thinking metacognitively.
Of the five hundred reflections we read, we found only thirty two
examples of high quality critical reflections. The highest quality of critical
reflection was found in grades 11 and 12 (IB CAS program), with the
richest reflections coming from leaders of clubs. In general, we found a
much higher number of reflections that were “code-worthy” among
students in the IB program (See Figure 5).
There may be many reasons for this, including the fact that those who
took the opportunity to lead, developed better critical thinking skills, as
well as skills to manage complexity, effectively communicate and
collaborate. Further, completing reflections in Managebac is required as
part of CAS, which is linked to graduation. The CAS coordinator and
student advisors have to approve these reflections before granting credit
hours, thus raising the expectations on quantity and quality.
In Middle School, we found a general improvement in the richness of
reflections as students moved from grade 6 to grade 8. MS CSR reflections
are highly structured and part of CSR advisory lesson plans. The CSR
coordinator and the grade level CSR representatives work closely to co-develop these reflection activities. CSR advisors then facilitate the entire
CSR experience and ensure reflections are entered in student e-portfolios. As the students move from grade 6 to grade 8, the depth of
their own thinking grows, as does the authenticity of their CSR experience
and consequently, the quality of their reflections. As Figure 5 shows, from
the reflections we analyzed, we found only two in 6th grade that we could
use but the number increased from grade 6 to grade 8.