Debriefing is reflection

i heart debriefing

Picture you are leading a team building session with your student group at the end of the summer for training for the upcoming academic year.  The group is fully engaged, they are getting along, you think the session is going well. You then do your obligatory debriefing session and…crickets.  They were having such a good time you thought they would be very talkative. This is why you hate to debrief after an activity. There’s no engagement after the experience, and you think what’s the point of debriefing, maybe I shouldn’t do it anymore.

For those of you who dislike debriefing, I know that I used to despise it, you can use this opportunity to try out something new.  You can ask other questions than the typical debriefing questions. You know the questions I mean; How did this make you feel? What were the challenges?  What were the successes in this activity? These questions are still important to get the students’ perspective. But you probably have those student leaders who are involved in everything, they need some other challenges.  Use this opportunity to ask harder questions, get the students thinking more critically.

Debriefing is a form of reflection.  But instead of doing the standard type questions, maybe ask different questions.  Maybe ask what was the point of this? Why did we choose this certain activity? What were your feelings as you started the activity?  What were your feelings when you finished the activity? Why? Now that you know this activity, how would you do it differently, if any?

If you need some suggestions of questions, here’s a good link of questions to start.  But remember to keep the questions catered to what you want your students to learn. And importantly, ask these same questions later on.  Revisit the experience again and see if the students have had more thoughts. Did the experience and debriefing change the way the student has approached the experience?  Keep the questions ongoing with frequent check-ins and your students will engage more with reflective learning.

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