Reflective learners are better at learning because they regularly look for opportunities to improve the learning process. They are also likely to use their new knowledge more effectively and purposefully. What distinguishes reflective learners? Here are few characteristics you want to cultivate to become a reflective learner:
- Motivation. When you are motivated, you see learning challenges as opportunities to perfect your learning skills.
- Curiosity. Inquisitiveness drives your mind to experience, explore and ask questions. It works up your learning appetite.
- Focus. Focus makes you persevere and stick to the subject matter until you get the results. When you are focused, you are more discerning and selective when it comes to information, and that helps to deepen your knowledge.
- Self-awareness. You should know what kind of learner you are and what learning strategies work best for you.
- Confidence. Don’t be afraid to fail. You want to be open to new ideas and approaches even if they involve risk. You should also welcome criticism because it helps you grow.
- Info-savviness. You need information processing and learning skills to be able to locate, evaluate, synthesize, and integrate new information.
One step you can take right now to become a reflective learner is to create your personal learning portfolio. A learning portfolio is a record of your personal learning experience. Here are a few suggestion on how you may want to approach it:
- Identify the content of your learning. What is it that you want to know? Look at your current projects and goals and identify a learning component in them. For example, you want more clients. What do you need to learn to get more clients? Do you want to know how to market effectively on the internet? How to network? How to contact your strategic partners? You get the idea. Identifying a learning component in each task will force you to look at the efficiency of what you are already doing. Ask yourself what you can learn to become better at this task. Engage your curiosity. Record your ideas in your learning portfolio.
- Write down the reasons why you want to learn those things. How does your learning fit into the larger context of your personal development, career objectives, and social life? You are more likely to focus on and achieve your goal if you have a reminder of why it is important.
- Determine how you are going to accomplish your learning objectives. What experiences do you need to have? How do you develop the skills you need? Who can be your teacher / role model / mentor? Use your info-savviness as you create your own learning curriculum filled with activities that can boost your professional and personal development.
- Figure out how you can measure you progress. How do you know that you have reached your goal? What are your milestones? Be confident enough to ask for feedback. Record your successes and challenges.
- Reflect on your learning process. Practice self-awareness as you write down your observations of what works and what doesn’t work for you. How could you learn more effectively? Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:
- What confused you most?
- What is the best way to resolve your confusion?
- What key ideas and information did you learn?
- What surprised, dismayed, delighted you most in you learning experience?
- How does your learning relate to the larger context of your life and work goals?
- Have you learned any practical skills, ideas, tools, techniques that you can easily apply to real-life situations?
- Have you learned anything new about yourself, your interests, feelings, values?
- What helped your learning?
- What interfered with your learning?
- What should you do more of? What should you do less of?
- What is one thing (skill, habit, activity) you want to focus on next?
- Find the ways to use and apply your new knowledge and skills. Stay confident in your abilities as you brainstorm new ways to use your knowledge. How can you learn more by doing?
- Have a section where you can record random comments and observations, clip images that appeal to you, write down quotations, ask yourself questions and just let your thoughts flow onto the paper without reservations. This will fuel your motivation.
What do you do to be a reflective learner?
Orientation Series: 21 Steps to Becoming a Better Learner:
Step 1: Setting your learning objectives
Step 2: Taking an inventory of your skills
Step 3: Taking an Inventory of Your Learning Tools
Step 4: Finding opportunities for cognitive apprenticeship
Step 5: Determining the "IIQ" of what you read
Step 6: Choosing helpful books for law students
Step 7: “The Three 'P's of Performance” in Action
Step 8: Tapping into your social networks
Step 9: Identifying your learning barriers
Step 10: Finding your sources of motivation
Step 11: Managing your energy
Step 12: Focusing on how you think
Step 13: Mastering informal learning and professional development
Step 14: Asking Good Questions
Step 15: Condensing your knowledge
Step 16: Memorizing