The Reflection Process

You know that cold sweat that creeps over you the night before the term paper is due? The one you haven’t started? If you’re like me, and this thought is scary to you, keep on reading for some tips on how to avoid a situation like this. And make sure to check out plan and evaluate and read/review and organize for more information.


Preparing yourself for learning often begins with a process of reflection. We suggest kicking this off with a few questions:

Sometimes people make the choice to attend University because it seems like the right thing to do or because parents or friends have provided "encouragement". Maybe you are studying to attain a career goal. Ask yourself the question and keep asking "why?" until you come up with your own reasons for pursuing higher education.

The reason for this is clear. You are more likely to put in the required effort to attain your goal if it is important to you. And, although University can be a fun and rewarding, academic success does require effort.

To help you think through your reasons for studying, here are some suggested resources:

Having a target to aim for is helpful for motivation. However, again, it is important to keep your true goal front and centre. Again, ask yourself: Why do I want those grades? Will those grades help me to achieve my goals? How?

Once you have an answer to this question, consider whether or not you are willing to put in the extra effort required to achieve the grades you want.
Related questions are "how much effort will this take?" and "am I willing to put in the required effort?"
Remember, grades are not a measure of your worth – they are the easiest way for institutions to assess performance in order to make decisions about academic advancement.

You likely have a sense of how much effort you will need to put in based on your educational experiences up to now. However, keep in mind that University may be an entirely new and overwhelming experience for you. Particularly if you are adjusting to living away from home, in a new country, raising a family or caring for parents, experiencing personal challenges, or are experiencing new found freedom away from your families. All of these challenges compete for your energy.

You may need to balance your expectations for grades against other demands that you are experiencing – particularly as you adjust to University life.

There are a number of resources to assist you:

This will be an easy question to answer if you are clear about your goals and if you are confident you understand how much effort will be required.

Talking with your instructors and other students will help you gage how much time you will need to spend studying in a particular course to achieve your goals.

Just the fact that you have found this website will (we hope) help you to access the many resources UBC offers to students in support of your learning.

You may want to be aware of resources including Study Groups, Tutoring and other student success programs - which you can access via the Quick Links or on this site. They may help smooth your way as you move ahead.
Do I Want to Take My Time or Cram?
If you thrive on the excitement and pressure of working on the final paper all night before the due date, there are resources to assist you. On the other hand, if you prefer a planned approach with a somewhat more relaxed pace, doing a little bit every day, there are resources that you will find helpful as well.

For the crammer:

For the planner:

Just remember, if you are signing up to a web service that is hosted in the U.S., you’ll want to take note of their privacy policies before you give over your personal information. The U.S. has a different view of privacy protection than we do in Canada. More on protecting your personal information across borders

You likely have many excellent skills and approaches that have helped you excel as a student. You may want to take a moment to think about those qualities, skills and personal attributes that have previously assisted you in learning new things and in new ways. Many of these approaches to learning will be valuable to you now.

On the other hand, you may find that some of the strategies you previously used don't work so well now. At the first sign of trouble (a low grade on a paper or negative feedback from an instructor) don’t panic – just ask questions. Try to learn where you went wrong and seek out resources to help you improve or develop the skills you need in order to succeed.

In addition to the resources offered in the Quick Links menu, try:

Ultimately, what you learn and how you learn it is your responsibility. Here are a few simple tips to remember when the going gets tough:

If you don’t understand something, meet or talk with the instructor, TA and fellow students until you feel on firmer ground.

If you’re falling behind, discuss this with your instructor. He or she may be able to suggest an approach that will help you meet the demands of the course.

Check out options for tutoring and study groups.

Invest some time in gathering your resources (software to help you with mind mapping, library tutorials, using the Library’s online database for research, developing a system for managing your notes, links to internet resources , etc.).


Getting Clear About Your Goals

You might choose to skim the surface while reflecting on these questions. Or you may want to go a little deeper – asking yourself “why?” each time you come up with an answer to every question. The deeper you go, the clearer your goals will become. Write them down and reflect on them periodically throughout your time at University. You may be surprised at the extent to which your goals change, evolve over time or remain unchanged. It’s all good – just tells you something about your own personal approach to getting where you want to be.

Being a Successful Learner

Successful learners use a variety of strategies in the process of learning. Researchers in the fields of education and psychology often refer to these strategies as metacognitive and cognitive. Metacognitive strategies relate to planning and personal reflection – if you took some time to reflect on the previous questions, you were using metacognitive strategies. Cognitive strategies relate to how you process information and make it meaningful.

And remember, not all learning happens while you're "in class". Many opportunities for learning occur outside the classroom.