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Reflection: The What, Why, and How… Applying Experiential Learning Outcomes through Reflective Journaling

EACE Blog contribution by Andrea Frost, Johnson & Wales University

Credit: Jill Milon

Credit: Jill Milon

Reflective writing is becoming more and more applicable as it relates to a student’s educational experience. It allows students to get a deeper understanding of classroom theory and how they apply that to their experiential learning.

So, what exactly is Reflective Journaling?

It allows students to critically reflect on various aspects of their internship experiencesIt allows students to:It allows students to:

  • connect their internship experience to their academic coursework
  • set performance goals
  • assess progress towards these goals
  • document their application of their knowledge and skills

Students should review the experiential education outcomes as set forth by their school. A helpful start would be to chronically keep a journal of the skills they enhance and develop at their internship. Students should begin by identifying examples based on the learning outcomes.

Helpful tips:

  • Provide specific examples of how student demonstrated the skill; avoid defining or describing the skill
  • Typical entries should generally be 5-6 sentences
  • The tone of the entries should be professional rather than casual; avoiding text-speak or slang.
  • Thoughtfully consider the question or prompt
  • Draft some initial thought
  • Link thoughts to the experiences they’ve had
  • Refine the response by giving specific examples about what student has learned

Students should then review their entries by asking themselves these questions:

  • Have they clearly shown the connection between the internship experience and what they’ve learned?
  • Are the examples specific enough, providing evidence to support the response?
  • Have they eliminated any “run-on thoughts” in the responses?

These tips will assist students in capturing the experiences and linking them towards their own educational and professional objectives. Reflective journaling is a part of a student’s self-discovery. Students should be encouraged to make this a common practice for all of their experiential learning. Using these techniques will assist students in creating meaningful and thoughtful responses. They can refer back to these journals when updating a resume, preparing for an interview, or setting future goals based on their acquired skills and experiences. Reflective writing gives students the foresight in setting goals for their professional growth.

So, let’s reflect: how can you apply this information when working with your students? It’s simple to get this message across; integrate it into internship orientations, workshops, and one-on-one advising. Act as a soundboard for the students while they are out on internship. Most of all, it gives you the chance to be directly involved in guiding students towards their future goals and professional growth.


Andrea Frost

Andrea Frost

Andrea Frost is the Assistant Director of Experiential Education at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI.  She has been in higher education for 19 years, ranging from admissions, financial aid, and to her current role in experiential education.  She oversees the entire internship department in Providence, which includes the daily operations as well as collaborating with academic deans and department chairs to facilitate quality experiential education programs for students and employers. 

Andrea received her BS degree in Communications from Fitchburg State University in 1994 and is a 2002 graduate of the MBA program at Johnson & Wales University.  She resides in Westport, MA with her husband Michael and two children, Sydney and Danny. 


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