Learning Gain- Reflections from LIBS on Reflecting

Project Lead

Dr Geeta Lakshmi

Project Team:

Dr Debbie Lock

Dr Mahdieh Zeinali

Mr David Anderson

Ms Stephanie Schiaffonati

Dr Paula O’Brien


Lincoln International Business School has been trialling a variety of initiatives over the past few years looking at what students take away from their time in University. In conjunction with some of the other colleges, we have looked at whether self-assessment, situational judgement tests and data collected before the start of an academic year on student preparedness is of interest in gauging Learning Gain (Office of Students, 2018) which is seen to be an important research project for universities and a measure of their quality. LIBS has participated enthusiastically but felt that more could be accomplished.

Capturing static data about student experience is important but enabling our students to become mindful of their own learning is empowering. Consequently, LIBS decided upon actively promoting reflection as a tool for mindfulness and as a means to practice sustainable business. The reflective log is aimed at giving students a chance to display what learning has taken place i.e. “improvements in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time in higher education” (Office of Students, 2018). To that effect it actively promotes the development of employability skills

We felt that learning conscious reflection was a lifelong skill and was of paramount importance in study skills and a professional outlook. Reflection is not a new concept (Schön (1999); Kolb and Kolb (2005)) but it is unclear how it has been operationalized. Reflection can both be a process and an outcome but implies a complex process beyond “recall” (Moon, 2013). Thus rather than treating reflection as an endpoint, LIBS decided to introduce it as a learning process, through the period of undergraduate study. The College also recognises that we enjoy an incredible diversity and multicultural backgrounds of student community. Our students are usually young, stepping away from their sheltered upbringing and flying in from across the globe to rub shoulders with peers who are different from others previously encountered. For local students, this experience presents several opportunities as well. From experience, we like to believe thus that LIBS students grow not only academically, but also by way of soft skills. In the world of business, continuous improvement is a mantra.

What we did

Dr Paula O’Brien and I presented our initial ideas at a European First Year Experience Conference in 2017 where it was enthusiastically received.

Mahdieh Zeinali trialled the use of reflective logs to capture the experiences of first years in Business and Management degree to ascertain what challenges they faced to get settled, how they extended their social tribe and how they reached out to voluntary activities beyond the University. We had a variety of interesting responses and are currently looking at themes embedded within these. Students have commented in a variety of ways, one international student wrote, “I like my classmates because I can learn many things which I never knew before”. Many expressed their desire to take part in more civic/volunteering events in the city acknowledging the importance of having an outward facing attitude.

Reflection has also become embedded in the Professional Practice year modules in our various degrees such as Business and Management and features in several assignments at all years. This allows students to reflect more deeply on their experience in their academic modules.

The employability team at LIBS, led by Stephanie Schiaffonati run a variety of sessions at second year to prepare students to be work ready. Last year, students were asked whether they perceived any benefits of doing the Mock Assessment centre session before they started it. Many of them, subsequently, reported how, pleasantly surprised they were, despite initial misgivings. It is this sense of acquired confidence in trialling a new activity, we hope, students will take away in their careers.

Students were also asked to write a reflective piece about their experience on the module as one of the components of their learning.

What students thought?

A focus group we asked, were enthusiastic about this idea as it allowed them to compile a portfolio/ record/ diary of what gained out of university. This record of achievements and development will become an aid memoire at interviews.

Next Steps

The reflection Log seems to be blossoming further in LIBS!  A grant from LIBS Teaching and Innovation fund was received for technology purchase to develop a reflective log trialling an e-portfolio for First year BA Accounting and Finance students. Such E-portfolios make it easy to capture logs of personal development and can be displayed to future employers and remain with the students after they leave University.

We are also looking at the reflective logs which were collected last year for themes embedded in the responses. These are being analysed and their linkages to student profiles being reviewed. The cohort which participated will be asked how they built upon the key challenges they identified last year. We intend to continue to ask students in second year how they have applied lessons learnt from their reflection. Employability module will be looked at to ascertain whether reflective logs this year show emergent themes to that of the logs in the last academic year.


Office of Students (2018) https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/teaching/learning-gain/

Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Kolb, A Y.; Kolb, D A. (2005). Learning styles and learning spaces: enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning and Education.

Moon, J.A. (2013). Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, Routledge.