A review of strategies for supporting reflection in online learning environments

Ting ling Lai, Susan M. Land

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Reflection is essential to deep learning and problem solving. Recently, as online courses have become available for residential students on college campuses, it is often challenging for online instructors to foster reflection. From a socio-cultural perspective, reflection is developed through social interaction and semiotic mediation (Vygotsky, 1978; Wells, 1999). Students need to be given opportunities to review their own and others' mental processes and to use techniques such as writing or verbal reports to organize and revise thoughts (Cobb, Boufi, McClain & Whitenack, 1997). In addition, students also need guidance in reflection; without guidance, reflection can become self-referential, inward looking and superficial (Boud & Walker,1998), and lead to aimless retrospective thinking. This paper reviews strategies for supporting reflection in online environments, primarily focusing on journaling / blogging and small group asynchronous discussion. We discuss how these strategies support reflection, and survey studies that investigate the effectives of the two strategies. We also provide suggestions for guidance and evaluation of reflection with online learning environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLearning Strategies, Expectations and Challenges
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781620817520
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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