5.2 Self-reflection and analysis

The best remedy for fluency illusions is to encourage self-reflection and analysis of one’s own knowledge. Most importantly, paying attention to the metacognition of your students helps you empower the students and motivate them for continued learning after the formal education has concluded. You will explore this further in the next activity.

Activity 5.2 Facilitating self-reflection and analysis

Bringing your own teaching experience to mind, consider how you encourage your students to engage in self-reflection and analysis of their thinking. Use the box below to note down at least one example.

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There are many opportunities for you to encourage self-reflection and analysis in the E4J Modules. For example, in E4J Ethics Module 7 (Strategies for Ethical Action), there are several occasions where students can be invited to towards self-reflection and analysis of their thinking. Exercise 3 of that Module, for example, concludes with the following directions:

After listening to your colleague’s proposed solution to the values conflict under discussion but before discussing it, take a moment to silently consider your responses to the following questions:

  • What is your immediate response to your colleague’s strategy and “script”?

  • What are the strengths of this response?

  • What questions do you still have for your colleague?

  • If you were the target of this response, how do you think you would react?

  • What might improve this response?

These kinds of questions invite precisely the sort of reflection that produces better metacognition and help provide the student with direction for her future learning.

Another very simple strategy that you could use in your courses takes the form of a writing exercise that students can complete at the end of any class period, no matter what the activity is. In this technique, usually called the “Minute Paper” (see E4J Ethics Module 9 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] or E4J Anti-Corruption Module 6 for examples), you pause the class a few minutes before the end and asks students to write down their responses to two questions: “What was the most important thing you learned today? What question remains in your mind?”

When students conclude a learning experience by reflecting upon these two questions, they are helping to seal in their minds the most fundamental knowledge or skill from the class. They are also taking stock of their learning to discover what prior assumptions have been challenged, what questions remain unanswered and where they still need help.

As an added bonus, you will find it useful to read what students have to say. They might all be confused about the same idea or they might have rated as “most important” an idea that you see as less critical. In either case, you can address this with the students in the next class period.

5.3 Virtue ethics