from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Life: Creatures of the DeepThursday, 11th February 2016 10:00 - Eden EdenLife under the waves. Read more: Life: Creatures of the Deep
The London Markets: The Fruit And Veg Market: Inside New SpitafieldsAvailable until Sunday, 13th March 2016 00:40The fruit and veg trade in England was once a closed world dominated by traditional British costermonger families.... Read more: The London Markets: The Fruit And Veg Market: Inside New Spitafields
The Bottom Line: Winter 2015-16: Customer ServiceAvailable for over a year
Thinking Allowed 2016: Consumerism, Work-life balanceAvailable for over a year
More or Less: E-cigs, politics, school and birthdaysAvailable for over a year
What's so exciting about gravitational waves being discovered?Scientists are thrilled by the discovery of gravitational waves, in part because it proves one of... Read more: What's so exciting about gravitational waves being discovered?
OpenLearn Live: 11th February 2016The first king to unite Wales into a single kingdom; working with Richard Nixon; making love last... Read more: OpenLearn Live: 11th February 2016
Landschaftliche VielfaltGerman regions and landscapes, local traditions and the notion of Heimat are at the centre of... Try: Landschaftliche Vielfalt now
Essay and report writing skillsWriting reports and assignments can be a daunting prospect. Learn how to interpret questions and... Try: Essay and report writing skills now
Learning how to learn: a process we all engage in throughout our lives, but no single method of learning guarantees success. This free course, Learning how to learn, aims to make the process of learning much more explicit by inviting you to apply various ideas and activities to your own study as a way of increasing your awareness of your own learning. Most learning has to be an active process and this is particularly true of learning how to learn.
The broad aim of this unit is to provide a framework for learning-based activities and reflective exercises. More specifically, it is designed to offer you the opportunity to:
- think about and understand how you learn;
- apply the ideas and activities in this unit to your own learning experiences;
- learn how to become a reflective learner.
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Getting started
- 2 Thinking about your learning
- 3 Learning through assessment
- 4 The preparation phase
- 5 The exploration phase
- 6 The implementation phase
- 7 The reviewing phase
- 8 Learning from revision and examinations
- 9 Learning how to become a reflective learner
- 9.1 Reflection and the four main phases of learning how to learn
- Current section: 9.2 What is reflection?
- 10 Further reading and sources of help
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
9.2 What is reflection?
Is reflection different to just thinking about your study? And how do we do it? Can someone teach you how to reflect or is it a matter of practice? Can everyone be reflective or are some students - and some people - more reflective than others?
There is no clear definition of reflection or precise way of describing what we mean by a reflective learner. But we can discuss some characteristics of the process, and encourage you to develop your own preferred ways of developing it.
Reflection is thinking for a purpose - in this course we have linked it to wanting to become a more effective and efficient learner; someone who wants to understand their own learning. Thus, reflection is also about wanting, or at least being willing, to change the way we learn.
Reflection is analysing how we learn - taking apart our own learning processes. The activities in this course are tools to help you do this. But reflection is also about evaluating how effectively we learn - making judgements on our own performance, and that is not always an easy or comfortable thing to do.
Most of all, reflection includes being critical - not in a negative or destructive way, but through rigorous questioning and deep probing into what and how we learn. Many people would say that the most important characteristic of an effective student in higher education is that they are capable of critical thinking - actively challenging both themselves and others.
For most of us, reflection becomes a more meaningful activity if it can be shared, either in a group or with another student. Putting your thoughts and ideas into words and getting a response from someone else, then perhaps listening to their reactions, makes the process more interactive and developmental. This interaction can be face-to-face or might be at a distance - by telephone or electronically. Even if you cannot easily engage with another student, any other person - friend or family - who is supportive of you as a student or shares your interest in learning might well enjoy sharing with you some of the activities in this course.
Sharing ideas about the activities means that you are more likely to engage with the material. If you prefer not to share your thoughts and experiences with others, or if talking about your learning is not possible, at least take time to respond to the activities in writing. The activities in this course do not have a 'right answer'. The examples from Tim and Sue show that students vary in the way they approach their learning and in how they reflect on its effectiveness. We hope that you have found time to record your responses and to act on them where appropriate. If you have read this far and have actively engaged in the process as we suggest, it is likely that you are well on the way to becoming a reflective learner.
Learning how to learn, however, is about more than reflection - it is about development and change. Understanding how you learn is just the first stage; taking action to develop yourself, to make changes and improve your learning is, like learning itself, an ongoing process. We hope that working through this course has at least encouraged you to start.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 15th July 2011
Last updated on: Tuesday, 10th December 2013
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.