Reflective thinking is a powerful learning tool. As we have seen throughout this course, proficient readers are reflective readers, constantly stepping back from the learning process to think about their reading. They understand that just as they need to activate prior knowledge at the beginning of a learning task and monitor their progress as they learn, they also need to make time during learning as well as at the end of learning to think about their learning process, to recognize what they have accomplished, how they have accomplished it, and set goals for future learning. This process of “thinking about thinking” is called metacognition
. When we think about our thinking—articulating what we now know and how we came to know it—we close the loop in the learning process.
You may be familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning. This tool explains the process of learning by defining categories of learning activities. The higher on Bloom's scale, the more challenging the learning task is--and the more powerful the benefits of being able to complete it.
The following image depicts Bloom's Taxonomy as a pyramid, with the simplest tasks at the bottom and the most challenging tasks at the top.
Educator Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano has modified Bloom's Taxonomy, incorporating ideas of self-reflection to gain a better understanding of a major project you've just accomplished. Her questions can be viewed in this pyramid:
You can recognize how the questions start fairly simply, with basic reporting of the task. Each grows slightly more complex, to add in considerations of personal growth in understanding, looking forward to how these ideas might be applied to future tasks.
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