The Power of Reflection

One of the biggest changes in Education is that of allowing students to be reflective about their own learning. If we use the analogy of a mirror, where it reflects our image back to the person who is viewing it. It gives feedback about their appearance and personality. Reflection in learning can serve a similar purpose by showing students where they are at academically and how they can improve, through reflecting on the things that have been achieved and need improving.

In the last two or three years at our school, the teachers at our school have been undergoing a process of understanding how we can raise student achievement. There has been a lot of research that involves looking at the way feedback is given back to students. It can have either a positive or negative impact on student achievement depending upon the way it's given.


Dr Dylan Wiliam is one of the key researchers in this area. He has written a number of books around this area of student feedback and identifies how to give it more effectively so that students improve their work.

The basis for many of assessments has incorporated the principles that are given by Dr Wiliam in helping students to think about the learning that they have achieved. We avoid giving marks because these have shown to be unhelpful in helping a student to think about the feedback that they have been given. They only focus on the mark and then make a judgement about themselves.

The Assessment Task 

The power of this reflection was demonstrated in a very practical way, with a science assessment task that Stage 3 had been working on. The task involved mainly researching about the Solar System and how it has been "discovered". The students were initially asked to complete the task in their Science books. The assessment task was as follows:

Upon completion of their work, the students were asked to self-assess themselves using the rubric. It was interesting to see where they felt their efforts to be. As I looked at their work and compared this to their rubrics, I could see that further feedback was needed to help them understand that they had not quite met the Assessment brief. 

I used the rubric as a guide and then gave feedback to each student by identifying 2 positive things that they had completed well and then one part that either needed improving or was missing. I also realised that many students had not included referencing. 

I gave a lesson, modelling how to include references in a project. I used a book and a web page as an example, using a reference generator to help. This showed the students to know what needed to be included in their Assessment task. Referencing is an important part of research and is a skill needed for further education. 

The approach that I took to give the feedback was to let them know that the initial results were disappointing. One of the boys became anxious and asked if this was what their grades would be based on. It was a good response because he had recognised that there were improvements that he wanted to make. Once the feedback was given and students were given the opportunity to read through the feedback in their book, they were given the chance to consider new ways to present their work. Some chose to complete the work digitally and some chose to rewrite their work in their presentation books, making the changes there. 

The biggest improvement that I noticed was the change in the student's attitudes when completing the task the second time. They were engaged and keen to complete the work. The improvements were considerable. The one student that stood out for me was a boy who finds handwriting a challenge. He knows that this is a challenge for him. He was keen to use a computer so that his work was neat and not dependent on the quality of his handwriting. He was one of the first to complete the task and the improvement was marked. Impressive! 

It is encouraging to see how the power of reflection has changed the achievement in Year 6. It has certainly helped to see how this is a tool that needs to be implemented more for my student's to grow. 

Student Work Samples 


  1. All of the slideshows look amazing, guys! Science Is So Amazing! Who was your favorite?

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Nate. I agree! I think they were amazing. I really enjoyed reading about Galileo. He must have been quite a character and very passionate about his beliefs.


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