Reflection Activities for Groups
Use a method of reflection that is comfortable for you. Most of the activities can occur through journal writing, craft projects, letters to self, small group discussion, pairings, large group discussion, and more! Keep the reflection time focused on exploring the experience in depth. Allow time for reflection to happen. Unlike most of our schedules, reflection is a time for process more than tasks. It is not a goal to achieve, but a time to ponder, share, and gain deeper insight.
Ask participants to finish sentences that you start, either verbally or on paper.
Orientation & Training
Information should be provided for volunteers about the community, the issue, and the agency or community group they are to work with. This information should be what the students need to act effectively and appropriately at their service site.
- Today I hope...
- Today I am most anxious about…
- Today I felt…
- Today I was surprised by…
- Today I learned…
- Orange County is…
- Community service is…
Compare & Contrast
Pre-Service: Ask participants what they anticipate from the experience:
- What do you expect to encounter?
- How do you expect to act/interact?
- What do you know about this issue/these people?
Post-Service: Ask participants what they experienced, and compare this to their expectations:
- What surprised you about your experience?
- Were there any stereotypes you held about this issue/these people?
- Is there anything you would do differently in the future?
Questions from a Hat
Ask participants to answer randomly chosen reflection questions. Encourage participants to use these questions to begin a dialogue.
What? So What? Now What?
Ask participants to respond to the following questions in any format you choose:
- What? Describe what happened, what you saw, what you felt, the interactions you had.
- So What? Did you make a difference? Why or why not? What impact did you have?
- Now What? What more needs to be done? What will you do now? Did this change you?
Pick an Emotion
Give participants a set of emotions to consider (from pieces of paper, pictures of faces, etc.). Ask participants to identify an emotion they are experiencing, and discuss why.
Ask participants to brainstorm ideas about how their service experience relates to broader social issues:
- How does this service project relate to issues we hear in the news?
- What does this agency do to change the social situation?
- What more can be done to address this issue?
- What are the societal issues that influence this problem?
What’s the Point?
Ask participants why indirect service matters:
- Who benefits from indirect service? What would happen if nobody did indirect service?
- How did the indirect service impact a broader social issue?
- Do you feel good about the service you provided?
- Divide participants into two groups and place them into two circles (one facing out, one facing in, so there are pairs of people).
- Ask participants to respond to specific questions, giving each half of the pair two minutes.
- Ask the outside circle to rotate once to face a new partner, and continue with a new question.
A Day in the Life
Ask participants to imagine living a day in the life of one of the service recipients:
- How does this compare to a day in your life?
- What information are you missing about how this person might live?
- Does this make you want to offer more service? Does it make you more empathetic?
- How do you feel in these shoes?
Meaning of Service
Ask participants again how they define service:
- Has this definition changed based on your service experience? How?
- What is the most valuable type of service? The most honorable? The most necessary?
- Why do you serve? Should everybody do service?
Defining Service (Source: Koln & Hamilton)
Ask participants to decide whether the following acts classify as “service” by moving to opposite ends of
the room for “yes” or “no”. Engage participants in a discussion about why they feel the way they do.
- Joining the armed services
- Providing dinner once a week at a homeless shelter
- Talking with a friend
- Chaining yourself to an old growth tree as loggers enter the forest
- Giving $50 to the United Way
- Walking a frail person across a busy street
(Source: Washington University)