Carleton faculty can access an archive of reflective assignments developed by your colleagues here [you must be logged into your Carleton account]. Many of these were developed as part of a collaborative project to scaffold reflective writing into A&I courses, so they’re most appropriate for 100- or 200-level classes. Many of the assignments are adaptable for more focused or advanced courses, though.

The LTC also has a great collection of resources on reflection and metacognition, which you can access here.

Finally, you can click here to access a slide deck that covers (very broadly) the scholarship behind reflective writing and some models to help you think about how to build reflection into your classes. This comes from George Cusack’s opening presentation at Carleton’s 2017 workshop on Reflection in the Classroom.

If you’re interested in developing reflective or metacognitive assignments for your class and aren’t sure where to start, feel free to contact George Cusack for advice.

Definitions

Reflective and metacognitive writing assignments ask students to critically examine their knowledge, experiences, methods, strengths, limitations, or assumptions. The terms “reflective writing” and “metacognitive writing” are often used interchangeably–in fact, we use them interchangeably throughout this page. There is a distinction between the two modes that’s worth acknowledging, though:

Reflective Writing asks students to articulate their experiences and place them into a context defined by the assignment.  A reflective assignment may ask students to consider or define larger aspects of their identity (e.g. “What role has writing played in your education?”) or simply have them process a recent experience or task (e.g. “To what degree do you consider this experiment successful or unsuccessful?”).  Reflective writing is always, to some degree, backward-thinking.

Metacognitive Writing asks students to critically examine their thought processes, habits, and practices.  Metacognitive assignments may also be wide-ranging (e.g. “Describe your overall approach to writing assignments.”) or narrow in scope (e.g. “Describe your plan for prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing this essay”).  Metacognitive assignments may have backward-looking components (e.g. “What aspects of this assignment were most difficult for you and why?”), but the best assignments generally have a present- or forward-thinking component (e.g. “Based on this, how might you adapt your writing process on the next essay?”).

Reflective and Metacognitive Writing Can Help Students:

  • Identify personal strengths and areas for growth
  • Critically examine their experiences, assumptions, and biases about your subject matter
  • Understand and improve their methods for engaging in academic work
  • Learn and adapt from previous successes and failures
  • Transfer knowledge and skills across learning environments

Reflective and Metacognitive Writing Can Help Instructors: