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As you go forward in your project, it is important to continuously reflect. The process of reflection is key to learning and a fundamental component of engineering community engagement. Think critically about the experiences you have had, the decisions you have made, the design you have produced, and what you have learned. Enjoy the high points. Think through the low points. Ask yourself what worked and what didn't, and think how you might respond differently the next time you work through a similar situation. Take a hard look at whether you are on track to meet your project goals, and if not, think about how you can catch up. The purpose of reflection is to enable your experiences in EPICS to drive your broader learning. 

You will have two overall types of reflection required of you: Weekly reflections and a Semester Reflection. The weekly reflections will take the form of a paragraph written in a Brightspace assignment, a group discussion, and/or a discussion board conversation on Brightspace. Some suggested questions for self reflection are listed below. The Semester Reflection will be completed at the end of the semester. See the reflection instructions in Brightspace and talk to your Advisor and TA for more information.

Suggested Questions of the Week (Optional)
  • Week 1:
    • What are my goals this semester in EPICS?
    • What are my biggest fears about being in EPICS?
    • Why did I enroll in EPICS this semester?
  • Week 2/3:
    • What do I know about my project partner?
    • What do I need to know to be a better designer for my project partner?
    • What larger need is my project partner addressing?
    • How can I help address my project partner’s need?
    • What do I think they need most? Does that match what we are doing?
  • Week 4:
    • What did I learn from the Intro to Design lectures that I can apply to my project?
    • Do we have a good plan for executing our project goals this semester?
    • How was the documentation left from last semester? Did I help write it? If it needs to be improved, what specific steps can I take to improve it?
  • Week 5:
    • What stage of the design process is my project in? Do I think we have addressed all of the prior stages appropriately?
    • What other tools or strategies can I use or do I need to improve my design?
  • Week 6:
    • How can I improve my oral or written communication skills?
  • Week 7:
    • How has feedback from the Design Review impacted my design?
  • Week 8:
    • How is my team functioning? What are we doing well? How can we improve?
    • What can I do to improve how my team is functioning?
    • What other resources (inputs/skills) do I/we need to address any issues that we are having?


 Semester Reflection

The final reflection is due Week 16, and is submitted through Brightspace.

For two of the themes below, critically reflect about what you have learned in that area this semester. Each reflection theme should include the following content components and contain at least 300 words. The questions listed under each theme are for inspiration; they do not all need to be addressed or answered exactly as written.

Three Content Components

  1. Reflective observation of your experiences during the semester to spark this reflection
  2. Conceptualizing and connecting your observations to broader concepts in one of the reflection themes
  3. Connecting how you will use your experience and learning in the future, inside and outside EPICS

Themes (Choose Two):

1)    Personal and Professional Development

a)   What did I learn about who I am (my strengths, weaknesses, skills, etc.) and who I want to become, personally or professionally?

b)   What assumptions or expectations did I bring to the situation? How did they affect what I did or didn’t think, feel, decide, or do? To what extent did they prove true? If they did not prove true, why was there a discrepancy?

c)   How did this situation challenge or reinforce my values, beliefs, convictions (e.g., my sense of right and wrong, my priorities, my judgments)? My sense of personal identity?

d)  What is/should be the role of partnership, reciprocity, and/or co-design in my work? What have I learned from the community partner, and what resources have they provided to the project process and deliverable?

e)  What role does/should empathy play in my work?

2)   Social Impact

a)  What did I learn about the broader impacts of my work and how I and others can affect change locally and/or globally? 

b)  What did I learn about the community, our partners, the needs, and/or the quality of the service provided? What is the mission of our community partner and how do I support this through my effort in EPICS?

c)   In what ways did differentials in power emerge in this experience? What are the sources of power in this situation?

d)  In what ways is the individual good (mine or others) linked to and/or contrary to the common good? What trade-offs between them are involved? Who makes/made the trade-offs? Were the trade-offs made appropriate or inappropriate and why?

e)  In taking the actions I / they did, was the focus on symptoms of problems or causes of problems? Was the focus (symptom or cause) appropriate to the situation? How might I / they focus more on underlying causes in the future?

3)   Academic Enhancement

a) What did I learn related to my discipline and how was that enhanced by the service-learning context? How can my discipline contribute in the context of community engaged design projects and impact society? 

b)  What skills, knowledge, and/or experience do I have that teammates might overlook, and how should this guide how we complete our project plan? What skills, knowledge, and/or experience gaps do I or my team have, and how might these be best addressed?

c)   What did I learn about the design process and/or human-centered design?

d)   What have I learned and what habits have I formed to improve my abilities and interest in lifelong learning?

e)   What is/should be the role of teamwork and inclusion in my work? How has my team been functioning and how can this be improved in the future?

4)   Ethics: (Consider referring to the NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers or other codes of ethics for inspiration.)

a)  What have I learned about professional ethics and how decisions regarding ethical issues are made individually and as a team? 

b)  What ethical issues may arise or have arisen in my project, how should ethical decisions be made in light of these issues, and how might this affect project identification and/or risk assessment analysis?

c)   What ethical and professional responsibilities should I consider in order to make more informed judgments, which consider the impact of solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts, when encountering similar situations in the future.

Source of Some Inspiration Questions Under Themes:

Ash, S. L., & Clayton, P. H. (2009). Generating, deepening, and documenting learning: The power of critical reflection in applied learning. Journal of Applied Learning in Higher Education, 1(1), 25-48.