Reflection Sessions

Reflection and Formation

Reflection is a central element of student formation at Boston College. Reflection sessions are a fundamental component of the design of Complex Problem and Enduring Question courses, where students are provided time outside of lecture to connect course material to their whole selves. In Reflection sessions, students connect the content of the course materials with their lives beyond the classroom, and to the larger University community. In this way, Reflection is intimately tied to the Core learning goal designed to teach students how to “examine their values and experiences and integrate what they learn with the principles that guide their lives.” Reflection sessions can provide a space for discussion for the ethical implications of material covered in the course and may help students process their reactions to difficult course materials. Additionally, Reflection provides opportunities for ideas and practices associated with formative experiences at Boston College to emerge.

Faculty and student creativity flourish in Reflection sessions. Here are some examples of past Reflection activities:


  • A session on the Jesuit Examen led by someone from Mission and Ministry
  • A workshop teaching students about different meditative practices
  • A yoga workshop
  • A workshop on reflective journaling
  • An e-media fast, students abstain from all electronic devices and media for 24 hours
  • Students practiced silence for increasingly long periods of time


  • Course on migration, students were shown an array of timeworn objects and asked to write narratives about the journey of a chosen object. Students then shared their narratives and discussed their own experiences of migration.
  • Course on gender, students divided into groups to create collages from magazine images illustrating the role of mass media in reinforcing or challenging traditional gender stereotypes.
  • Course on books and media, Conservator from Burns library led a session in which students played the role of 16th-century apprentices in a print shop and used bookbinding tools to create a vellum pamphlet.
  • Course on climate change, student participation in a World Food Banquet to reflect on world food issues.

Field trips:

  • Museum of Fine Arts to visit the new Islamic Arts exhibition to study maps
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery to consider the meaning of life and death
  • Cape Cod beaches to observe and compare signs of sea level change on a pristine and developed coast. Dinner at a faculty member’s home
  • Walden Pond to reflect on the live experiences of Henry David Thoreau

Guest Speakers:

  • BC Career Center speaker discussing career opportunities related to the course
  • Panel of veterans discussing the experience of war
  • Kwame Appiah lecturing on cosmopolitanism and the legacy of empires
  • Students attended talks in the Environmental Studies lecture series on climate change

PODs (Purposeful Ongoing Discussion) in Complex Problem courses only

  • Reflection model that involves selecting upperclassmen as POD leaders who meet with students in small groups to discuss adjusting to life at BC and to reflect on course material. The POD mentors are trained and closely mentored by course instructors.