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Study Shows Reflection + Doing = Better Learning

We are big believers in reflection as a key part of learning here at Eli Review. Now a new working paper by a team of researchers from HEC Paris, Harvard, and UNC Chapel Hill reports some interesting findings on the value of reflection in learning. The paper reports on an experimental workplace study conducted in India to test whether periods of reflection led to better overall performance than learning-by-doing alone.

The results of two experiments showed that reflective learners did better and felt more confident afterwards, too. This empirical evidence proves what many writing teachers have observed for a long time. Asking students to reflect on their learning in a deliberate way can call attention to the ways they are growing their repertoire of expertise. This leads to better performance and it also helps students feel more prepared to do well when facing a future task.

Research on learning has primarily focused on the role of doing (experience) in fostering progress over time. Drawing on dual-process theory, in this paper we focused on the reflective dimension of the learning process and argued that individual learning is enhanced by deliberately focusing on thinking about what one has been doing. Using a mixed-method approach that combines laboratory and field experiments, we find support for this prediction. Further, we find that the effect of reflection on learning is mediated by greater perceived self- efficacy. Together, our results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance


Reflection is well-supported in Eli Review. When teachers ask students to build a revision plan in Eli, they provide an explicit opportunity to select the feedback that they find most valuable, prioritize that advice, and then reflect on the ways their choices have led them to learn something new.

We’d love to hear how reflection is a powerful part of *your* classroom too! Send us your stories!

Study Shows Reflection + Doing = Better Learning was published to the Eli Review Blog in the category Around the Web.

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