In addition to attending an orientation and faithful participation, reflection is the third essential component to successful community-based learning. It is essential because community-based learning often teaches students both effectively and intellectually. This is a powerful "double dose" of learning that requires sorting out.
Sometimes a student's preconceived notions about people and situations are challenged. For example, a student may be surprised at how lively and how intellectually alert a senior citizen who is in frail health can be. If a Student does not have the opportunity to reflect on this newly acquired information, he or she may simply decide that the person with whom he or she is working is not like the rest of senior citizens. That is, the student will not question the accuracy of his or her preconceived notions about the elderly, but will decide that this person is exceptional.
Actively reflecting on the experience allows the student to think about his or her experience in broad terms. It encourages the student to put the learning provided by the interaction with, for example, the senior citizen, into the contact of a academic discipline and at the same time to evaluate personally held beliefs in light of the experience.
Actively reflecting on the implications of the community-based learning experience for both the affective and academic perspectives is essential to a successful course--embedded, community-based learning experience.