Why Reflection

Only part of what you know comes from what you learn directly – things you read or experience or are taught. The rest of what you know comes from thinking about and making connections between all of things you learned directly.

Reflection is a process more accurately called metacognition – thinking about thinking, assessing the nature and quality of our ideas, beliefs, and so on. Reflecting on our experiences actually causes the neurons built or reinforced during the experience to “fire” again, strengthening and even changing the way we learn from our experiences. 

We believe much of the value of the Global Citizen Diploma is found in the process of earning it because it asks that you make meaning from your experiences, consider alternative perspectives, and reinforce the valuable skill of metacognition.

Reflection and Privacy

It is important to remember as you create records of your reflection in your blog, that you are creating a public record. While you are entitled to tell your own story, please respect the privacy of the other people who might play a role in your story. Where possible, refer to other teachers or students or community members or professionals by initials or create aliases for them.

As you reflect, you may find that what you learn is more personal than you want to share with a global audience. If that is the case, you password-protect your post and provide the password to reviewers in the field provided in the Invite Reviewers form. Any post you plan to include in your GCD Showcase must not be password-protected, as this is intended to be a public portfolio.

Recording Your Reflection

By default, a lot of students write about their reflections, but as long as you address the guidelines below, you can reflect and record in whatever way makes the most sense to you, that will also make sense to an external audience.

If the way you make sense of things is to doodle or draw, do that as a method of reflection. Then scan your images, put them into your blog and explain them (as if to a Reviewer) in writing or audio recording or video. Or whatever works.

What To Consider/Include In Your Reflection

Students are encouraged to read the GCD criteria carefully and be sure to address them when reflecting on learning experiences. Overall, anyone who reviews your post should understand the impact your experience has had on you as a learner, how you are different as a result of the experience, and how you think you will be affected by it going forward.


0.   (Optional) Before an experience - we don’t always record this thinking, but it’s great if we can:

Key words: Goals, Expectations, Hopes, Fears, Hypothesis, Anticipation, Plan, Preparation, Research, Purpose, Intentions, Identified Gaps (in knowledge or experience), Needs, Desires, Mindset, Context

What did you think would happen?  Why did you do it? What did you think you would get out of it? What were you worried about? Excited about?


1.   Experience - link to the evidence on your digital portfolio, add a brief explanation of the evidence:

Key words: Archive, Evidence, Curate, Data, Log, Prove, Document, Report, Describe


What happened? How did it feel? Keep this short (a few sentences) - this is not the meat of the reflection! Provide evidence that proves the learning experience took place and that you participated. Give a bit of context for what you learned from the experience.


2.   After the Experience:

Key words: Processing, Synthesis, Connections, Growth, Learning, Ah-Ha’s, Surprises, Expected/Unexpected Learning, Comparison, Ethics, Change of Mindset.


Where are you now?  Where did you start? What was the path/process?  How did it feel? Why does it matter?  Are you different as a result?  What will stay with you? How are your strengths, interests, passions connecting? Not connecting? How did the experience match your goals or expectations?


3.   Inquiry, Extension, Before Starting Again:

Key words: Iterate, Restart, Wonder, Question, Curiosity, Cycle, Extend, Tangent.


Are you finished? Will you do it again? Would you do it differently?  What new questions do you have (about anything)?  What translates/transfers? What do you know now? What do you now know that you don’t know?

Reflect, Reuse, Recycle

In many cases, you will be asked to reflect on an experience for different contexts. You may reflect on something for class or for CAS in the IB or for university applications. If you have already reflected, whatever record you created for it can probably be used with your GCD too. You need to be sure that the specific criteria of the GCD are addressed in your reflection, so you might, in some cases, need to a add some extra thoughts or ideas with respect to a specific question or application. But generally, please do reuse or recycle reflection done for other contexts into the GCD.

As you record your reflection, you might want to think about the language your school uses for reflection and try to use some common terms so your reflections can be counted in as many ways a possible across your school programs. For example, IB students might like to use the CAS terms, Awareness, Challenge, Initiative, Collaboration, Commitment, Global Value, Ethics, and New Skills to describe their experiences so the language of their reflection is acceptable for the IB and the GCD.

The idea is not to create a lot more work, but to show more of the work you have already done.

Examples and Resources

Here is an actual student example of two brief reflections on one part of the GCD. The reflections are annotated with highlights and comments from a GCD Coordinator. These are not perfect, but show thought and engagement, which are the highest priorities for reflection.



       Post Experience & Inquiry


Video: Global Citizen Diploma with Distinction Graduate Claire Cole on the value of the GCD experience.

Video: Tutorial on creating a good reflection based on examples above