An Investigation on the Impact of a Guided Reflection Technique in Service-Learning Courses to Prepare Special Educators

Fall 2007

Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, Volume 30, Issue 4  Fall 2007, p. 276-285 


A "user-friendly" and theoretically-based template for reflection known as the ABCs of reflection was developed by Welch (1999) to assist faculty and students in addressing affective, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions of reflection.
This article provides a brief overview of the theoretical framework of this reflection rubric followed by a description of an investigation to assess its impact in a preservice course for teacher candidates.
This investigation attempted to answer the following research question:
Will the explicit instruction of the ABC123 reflection rubric result in significantly higher scores representing richer and deeper reflection entries of teacher candidates participating in a field-based course than a comparison group that did not receive instruction?



The process involves three steps.
Step 1 focuses on the ABC dimensions and is accumulative in nature.
The student's reflection statement earns one point for each of the ABCs he or she touches on.
Step 2 determines the level the student's reflection and is delineative in nature as only one level of awareness is identified and therefore delineated from the other two.
A numerical indicator is given to represent a particular level of awareness in the reflection statement.
Step 3 involves simple arithmetic of adding the accumulative score for the ABCs with the delineative indicator of levels to create a 6-point scale to quantitatively determine a rating of richness and depth.

Participants and Setting

Twenty-six preservice teachers at a Midwestern, private, liberal arts university were enrolled in one of two sections of a required teacher education course titled Introduction to the Exceptional Child.
The two sections were taught by different instructors.
However, the two sections used the same textbook, and similar teaching methods and assignments were used.
A major component of the course is completion of a 12-hour service-learning experience involving observation and assistance in a local public school special education classroom and submission of a reflection journal for each visit to the observation site.

Results indicated that the ABC123 method appears to have contributed to statistically higher reflection scores for the group of student who received explicit instruction of the rubric than the group that received no instruction.
Furthermore, instructors participating in this study found the technique to be a useful reflection rubric that served as an assessment and teaching tool as well as a learning tool.
Finally, this investigation played an important role of testing and socially validating a theoretically-based reflection rubric for actual implementation.



Welch, M. (1999). The ABCs of reflection: A template for students and instructors to implement written reflection in service-learning. NSEE Quarterly, 25(2), 123-25.

Updated: Oct. 02, 2008