Reflective learning can be seen as the conscious re-evaluation of past situations or experiences with the goal to learn from them and to use the gained insights to guide future behaviour. Reflective learning in the context of workplace learning has been identified as a core process which aims at getting new insights, deriving better practices and finally improving own work. Reflective learning, which is a cognitive process based on the individual’s intrinsic motivation, cannot be directly enforced, but guidance techniques like prompts, journals or diary writing, and visuals can foster reflection while using tools or software applications during work.
The goal of this thesis is to conceptualise reflection guidance as adaptive software components that provide technologically supported guidance independent of the application and the working environment. In order to achieve this, a literature review was conducted to identify key challenges necessary to provide meaningful technological support for guiding reflective learning at work. Based on those challenges, technologies were investigated and analysed to extract those technologies that are the most suitable ones for providing reflection guidance and are able to trigger reflective learning. Finally, core components and architecture were derived to present a general applicable reflection guidance framework. The theoretical underpinning is grounded in existing reflective learning theory and theoretical models and processes
supporting reflective learning.
The design science research methodology is used as underlying research method to thoroughly present the conducted research. Altogether fifteen field studies consisting of one focus group, two design studies, six formative field studies and six summative field studies were conducted in different work-related settings. The field studies together with an extensive literature research led to the development of five iteration cycles of two different reflective learning applications to trigger reflective learning. Finally the thesis resulted in 9 publications (7 accepted and 2 under major revision).
The research conducted was divided into three different phases. First, form the extensive literature the following key challenges emerged: (i)
the timing of reflection (when to motivate to reflect: during an activity or after an activity), (ii) the appropriate tool used to motivate for reflection ( prompts vs. diaries vs. visuals vs. contextualisation) and (iii) the work-related context of reflection (to not disrupt the work-flow).
Second, an in-app reflection guidance concept was developed, which provides reflection guidance in form of adaptive components. To illustrate how the concept can be instantiated in work-related settings, different components of the concept were implemented in three applications adopting various approaches to support reflective learning. The results showed that (i) prompts, diaries, and contextualisation are effective tools for initiating reflection when presented at the right time and in the right place and (ii) their integration in the work processes needs to be carefully considered in order to not interrupt or annoy the user during work.
Third, a general applicable conceptual reflection guidance framework called “Reflector” has been elaborated including requirements, lessons learned and necessary features for providing meaningful technologically supported reflection guidance. This framework can be seen as a kind of a technical summary of the insights gained from the literature review and the implemented and evaluated reflection guidance concept.
This thesis contributes scientifically to the area of technology-enhanced learning and provides a novel approach on how to provide meaningful technologically supported individual reflection guidance at work.