5 Ways To Help Students Develop Self-Reflection | EQ 2

Our new series of blog posts focused on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) unpacks each of Gardner’s elements of emotional intelligence and looks at ways teachers can use Makers Empire to develop these qualities in students. Building on our other posts that focus on ways to help students develop self-awareness, motivationempathy, and social skills , this post focuses on self-reflection – what it is, how Makers Empire can help students develop it, and questions you can ask students to encourage self-reflection.

Self-Reflection | Emotional Intelligence

What is it?

Self-reflection refers to the act of thinking about our behaviours, emotions, and reactions and then evaluating them to understand our own attitudes and motivations. Beyond self-awareness, self-reflection involves intentionally taking time to examine our thoughts and getting to know ourselves more deeply. Through self-reflection, we can gain insights and understandings about why we experience certain emotions and motivations. People with highly developed self-reflection capabilities understand the ways they respond to certain triggers, which enables them to enter situations in a more prepared manner, adjust their behaviours, and to feel more in control. Self-reflection helps us to be mindful of our motivations when making decisions and interacting with others. Self-reflection also plays a key role in the attitudes and dispositions we bring to learning new things and developing new skills.

“Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what really matters to us,” said Geil Browning, Founder and Chair of Emergenetics

5 ways Makers Empire can help students develop self-reflection capabilities

Makers Empire’s focus on design thinking provides a helpful framework for students to develop solutions to authentic problems and real-world scenarios. Self-reflection is inherent in design thinking processes with its focus on iterative design, evaluation, and testing. The non-linear nature of design thinking requires students to create prototypes of possible solutions and to develop tests to evaluate how successfully their ideas might solve problems or address challenges. This focus on evaluation and iteration is driven by reflection and curiosity.

Carol Dweck’s work identified two types of mindsets, the fixed-mindset and the growth-mindset.  A fixed mindset believes that our personality, intelligence, and creative ability are set in stone, while a growth mindset, thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. People with growth mindsets invest time in self-reflection to review their motivations and attitudes and make plans to achieve their goals. 3D design and 3D printing are an ideal way to help students develop a growth mindset, normalise mistakes and ‘failures’, build resilience and promote persistence. Students learn to iterate on designs, to gain feedback from their peers, to test designs, to fix problems, and to keep working towards better solutions.

When we are struggling with learning a new skill it is easy to become frustrated and give up. However, there is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction and achievement that comes with accomplishing a skill or task that you’ve persisted with and worked hard to achieve. The term ‘Learning Pit’ to describe the state of frustration when struggling with new skills or concepts was coined by Co-founder and Director of Challenging Learning, James Nottingham. Self-reflection is a key factor in recognising that we are in the Learning Pit and making a plan to help us move out of the pit. Learning new skills with Makers Empire can be very challenging and it is likely that students will find themselves in the Learning Pit from time to time. The scaffolded aspects of Makers Empire, such as our Pro-Training Tutorials, allow students to persist with learning increasingly sophisticated design skills which they can then apply to their own designs.

iPad with a 3D design robot mech suit designed in Makers Empire 3D

Self-reflection is aided by the ability to look back on previous experiences and evaluate our progress and achievements. Makers Empire accounts stay with students as they move from class to class and year to year. The ability to track their whole design portfolio allows students to not only reflect on their progress, but also to examine the changes in their interests and motivations over time. A recent addition to Makers Empire allows students to import one of their previous designs into the design platform to make further iterations, while keeping their original design intact. This can be a helpful tool to aid reflection.

Self-reflection involves being aware of how others perceive us. Makers Empire’s collaborative interface invites students to share their designs and to respond to the design’s others create. Our global design gallery is a collaborative space where students showcase not only their creations but also their personas as designers. They create avatars to represent themselves and build a portfolio of designs, making decisions on what they want to share and how they want to present their work. This is an excellent exercise in self-reflection and encourages students to think about how they are perceived and how they wish to be perceived by others. 


5 questions teachers can ask to promote self-reflection

  1. What problem are you trying to solve? How have you made sure that you have considered a range of possible solutions?
  2. What actions do you take to become a better designer in Makers Empire? What can you do to improve? 
  3. What was challenging about making your design? What frustrated you? What did you do to work your way out of the Learning Pit?
  4. How have your skills improved over time? What do you notice about your first designs compared to your more recent ones? How does your Makers Empire learning connect to other things you are interested in?
  5. What kind of feedback do you get from other people about your designs? How might other people describe you as a designer?
Picture of Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is the award-winning, highly regarded and passionate Director of Learning at Makers Empire. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education, and having created custom curriculum for Makers Empire schools in the USA, China and the UAE. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

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