From my experience, if you want to become a better writer, you must think about – or reflect on – what you learn about writing.

In this sense, reflect means that you intentionally synthesize, abstract, and articulate the ideas you gain in a learning experience – in a workshop for example. 

Reflecting on what you learn makes experience more productive.

Experience – or practice – is how you learn. And reflection improves the results you get from practice. Reflection builds your confidence in your ability to achieve a goal, and that creates a better understanding of the experience and more comprehensive learning.

Cognitive psychology researchers who study the ways we learn suggest that once a person has accumulated a certain amount of experience with a task, the benefits of gaining additional experience are less than the benefits of reflecting on that experience.

In this study researchers gave two groups of participants the same task to perform.

They then gave Group A time to reflect their experience with the task, and Group B the same amount of time to gain additional experience with the task.

Group A significantly outperformed Group B when they both repeated the task.

Our brains are designed for this kind of reflection.

In this paper neurobiologists describe how reflection actually enhances learning.

They found that neural networks responsible for maintaining and focusing our attention work in unison with a brain function that is spontaneously induced during rest, daydreaming, and reflection.

The neuroscientists use the term constructive internal reflection and encourage educational methods that promote a balance between external attention and internal reflection.

So, if you want to gain the most benefit from a learning experience, take time to reflect on the ideas you heard, and think about how you will put those ideas into practice.


We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.

John Dewey



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