By Andrew Carlin
Reflection is fundamental to development, and in undertaking courses in higher/further education establishments, students are on a journey of self-development. Reflection, and the feedback facilitating reflection, is a socially constructed process, affected by the conditions in which it was produced, distributed and received [1, 2]. Reflection also allows students to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses while acquiring a methodology for questioning and critical assessment . Reflection, when transferred into explicit plans helps students create a directional strategy to support their long-term journey of self-development, creating deep, active learning [4, 5]. Reflection, therefore, requires a long-term strategy and structure if its true benefits are to be realised, and is fundamental to students journey in further/higher education.
Quinton and Smallbond of the University of Oxford realised the value of reflection and tried to better integrate it into their undergraduate courses . Reflection and feedback come hand in hand, with the latter informing the former. Therefore, to realise the potential of reflection and feedback, feedback processes must be: accurate, timely, comprehensive and appropriate. Additionally, feedback must inspire students in their journey of self-development and have coaching value. Feedback has its greatest value when it is structured and integrated into a long-term development plan.
While the value of reflection is widespread and well established, it is not enacted to the levels it should be in higher/further education. With increasing class numbers, packed timetabling, part-time jobs and the modularity of modern degrees, feedback and reflection have become the pinch point for both students and educators in the continually evolving environment of higher/further education. Therefore, given the clear importance of reflection, classroom time should be assigned to reflection.
Quinton and Smallbond addressed this by giving students reflection sheets along with their feedback on assignments, to be filled out during classroom time. Students were given two pages of carbon-imprinted paper with three questions, each of which was designed to get a particular response:
The printing of the reflection sheets on two pages of carbon-imprinted paper allowed the students to keep a copy for their own records. This allowed students to aggregate their feedback across all their classes into a Personal Development Plan, with the goal that these sheets could be accumulated in a binder or something of the sort. With this in mind, the feedback should contain generic advice also, so students can, over time, across different classes, recognises their strengths and weaknesses in core, multi-disciplinary competencies.
The authors found that, for each question, the general responses were:
Based upon the work of Quinton and Smallbond, it is therefore recommended that:
 Lea, M.R. and B.V. Street, Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in higher education (Dorchester-on-Thames), 1998. 23(2): p. 157--172.
 Smith, R.A. and S. Pilling, Allied health graduate program - supporting the transition from student to professional in an interdisciplinary program. Journal of interprofessional care, 2007. 21(3): p. 265--276.
 Quinton, S. and T. Smallbone, Feeding forward: using feedback to promote student reflection and learning - a teaching model. Innovations in education and teaching international, 2010. 47(1): p. 125--135.