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Lecture 3 Planning Your Graduate Education Roadmap
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." - Benjamin Franklin 

3.4. Self-reflection and self-assessment are important.

Self-reflection and self-assessment are important when a graduate student is planning their education. In fact, they are essential components of developing a meaningful and effective educational plan. Self-reflection involves taking the time to think deeply about one's personal and professional goals, values, strengths, and weaknesses. It requires being honest with oneself and identifying areas for growth and improvement. By engaging in self-reflection, graduate students can develop a clearer understanding of what they want to achieve through their graduate program and how they can best utilize the resources available to them.

Self-assessment, on the other hand, involves evaluating one's own knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to specific learning outcomes or program requirements. By conducting a self-assessment, graduate students can identify areas where they may need to focus their efforts in order to meet the expectations of their program.

Both self-reflection and self-assessment can inform the development of an educational plan by helping graduate students set realistic and achievable goals, identify areas for improvement, and focus their efforts on areas where they are most likely to see success. Without engaging in these processes, a graduate student may develop an educational plan that is either too ambitious or too simplistic, or that fails to take into account their individual needs, interests, and abilities.

Thus, self-reflection and self-assessment are valuable tools for graduate students who want to develop a successful and fulfilling educational plan. By taking the time to reflect on their own goals and abilities, graduate students can ensure that their plan is tailored to their needs and is likely to result in the outcomes they desire.

3.5. How to carry out a self-reflection?

Self-reflection is an important process of introspection that helps individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It is a way to reflect on past experiences and gain insights into one's own thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

To perform self-reflection, one can follow these steps:

1.    Set aside dedicated time for self-reflection: Choose a quiet and comfortable place, free from distractions, and set aside some time for self-reflection. This could be in the morning, at the end of the day, or any other time that works best for you.

2.    Identify your thoughts and emotions: Take some time to think about your experiences and try to identify what thoughts and emotions were present during these experiences.

3.    Reflect on the experience: Think about what you learned from the experience and what you could have done differently. Consider what you would like to take away from the experience, and what you would like to do differently in the future.

4.    Write down your reflections: Writing down your reflections can help you to better understand and remember your thoughts and emotions. This can also be a useful tool for later self-reflection.

5.    Seek feedback from others: Sharing your reflections with others can help you to gain a different perspective on your experiences. Seek feedback from people you trust and value.

6.    Incorporate your insights into your future plans: Use the insights and lessons learned from your self-reflection to guide your future decisions and actions.


As John Dewey famously said, "We do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience." Regular self-reflection can help individuals to understand themselves better and make positive changes in their lives.

3.6. Gibbs’ reflective cycle

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle is a theoretical framework used in the field of professional development and education. It was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1988 and provides a structured approach to reflect on experiences. The cycle consists of six stages:

1.    Description: What happened and what was your role in the situation?

2.    Feelings: What were your emotions at the time?

3.    Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience?

4.    Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation and what were the causes?

5.    Conclusion: What have you learned from the experience?

6.    Action Plan: What will you do differently in the future as a result of the experience?


This cycle is meant to be a repetitive process, allowing for ongoing reflection and continuous improvement. It is important because it helps individuals identify areas of strength and weakness and facilitates the development of new skills and knowledge. Through self-reflection, individuals can gain a better understanding of themselves and their experiences, and make meaningful changes to improve their personal and professional lives.

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle is a useful tool for promoting self-awareness and personal development. By reflecting on experiences, individuals can identify areas for improvement, develop new skills and knowledge, and become more self-directed learners. The cycle encourages individuals to be critical of their own actions, to think about how they might have done things differently, and to use these reflections to inform their future actions.

Reflection example#1 A student did really bad in his exam, what self-reflection should he carry out?

If a student has done poorly on an exam, it's important for him to engage in self-reflection to understand what led to their poor performance and how they can improve in the future. Here are some steps the student can take to engage in self-reflection:

  1. Take time to process emotions: It's normal to feel disappointed or frustrated after doing poorly on an exam. Take some time to acknowledge these feelings and process them so you can move on to identifying the underlying reasons for your performance.

  2. Analyze your study habits: Think about how you prepared for the exam. Did you give yourself enough time to study? Did you study the right material? Did you use effective study strategies? Identify what worked and what didn't, and make changes to your study habits as needed.

  3. Review the exam: Go through the exam and identify the questions that you got wrong or struggled with. Understand the types of mistakes you made and why you made them. Did you misread the question? Did you not understand the material well enough? Did you run out of time? Use this information to inform your future studying and test-taking strategies.

  4. Identify areas of weakness: Based on your exam performance and study habits, identify the areas in which you need to improve. This could be specific topics, study strategies, time management skills, or something else.

  5. Develop a plan: Based on your self-reflection, create a plan for how you will improve your performance on future exams. Set specific goals, identify resources or support that you may need, and create a timeline for your plan.

  6. Seek support: If you are struggling to identify the reasons for your poor performance or to develop a plan for improvement, seek support from a teacher, tutor, or academic advisor. They can help you identify strategies that will work best for you and offer additional resources to help you improve.


Remember, one exam does not define you. Use this experience as a learning opportunity to develop better habits and improve your performance in the future.

3.7. What is a self-assessment?

Self-assessment is the process of evaluating one's own skills, abilities, and performance in a particular area or multiple areas. It helps individuals to identify their strengths and weaknesses and make informed decisions about their future. Self-assessment is important because it:

1.    Increases self-awareness: Self-assessment provides insight into one's own abilities, and this increased self-awareness can lead to improved decision-making and self-development.

2.    Facilitates goal-setting: By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can set achievable and realistic goals for yourself.

3.    Improves performance: Regular self-assessment can help you identify areas for improvement and track your progress over time.

4.    Increases motivation: When you see your own progress and success, it can increase your motivation to continue working on self-improvement.


To carry out self-assessment, follow these steps:

1.    Define your goals: Start by identifying what you want to assess. What do you want to improve or accomplish?

2.    Gather information: Collect data and evidence to support your self-assessment. This can include feedback from others, records of your performance, and personal observations.

3.    Reflect on your performance: Analyze the data and evidence you have collected. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and reflect on the reasons behind your successes and challenges.

4.    Set achievable goals: Based on your self-assessment, set achievable and realistic goals for improvement.

5.    Create an action plan: Develop a plan for how you will work towards your goals. This can include specific actions, timelines, and accountability measures.

6.    Review and evaluate: Regularly review your progress and evaluate your self-assessment to see if you are on track to achieve your goals.

3.8. What are the stages of self-analysis?

Self-analysis is the process of evaluating one's own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to gain a better understanding of oneself and make positive changes. It can be thought of as occurring in several stages:

1.    Starting: This stage is characterized by the initial desire to self-analyze and make changes in one's life. It is the point at which the individual decides to take an introspective look at themselves.

2.    Advancing: In this stage, the individual begins to actively engage in self-reflection, gathering information about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They may use techniques such as journaling, talking to friends and family, or seeking professional help to gain a deeper understanding of themselves.

3.    Achieving: As the individual continues with self-analysis, they begin to see positive changes and make progress in their understanding of themselves. They may feel a sense of accomplishment and a strengthened sense of self-awareness.

4.    Retreating: Sometimes, the process of self-analysis may become overwhelming, and the individual may retreat from the process. They may feel discouraged or uncertain about the direction of their journey.

5.    Hesitating: At this stage, the individual may hesitate in their self-analysis journey, feeling unsure about the next steps to take. They may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about the direction they want to take in their journey of self-discovery.

6.    Discouraged: Finally, the individual may feel discouraged and lose motivation for self-analysis. This may happen if they feel that they have not made any progress or if the process is taking too long.


It is important to note that these stages may not occur in a linear fashion, and individuals may revisit stages they have previously passed through. The key is to continue self-analysis, even when faced with challenges or setbacks, in order to gain a deeper understanding of oneself and make positive changes in one's life.

3.9. Suggested daily & weekly self-reflection practice


Daily Reflection:


Earlier Morning:

  1. Create a list of tasks you want to work on today. This will help you focus on what you need to accomplish and ensure that you don't miss anything important.

  2. Prioritize the task list based on urgency and importance. This will help you allocate your time and resources more effectively.

  3. Remind yourself of your strengths and areas for improvement. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

  4. Carry out the tasks and focus on doing your best.


Evening Before Bed:

  1. Cross off tasks that you completed today from your task list. This will help you stay organized and see your progress.

  2. Think about new tasks for tomorrow. This will help you be prepared and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  3. Prioritize the tasks for tomorrow, making sure to address the most urgent and important ones first.

  4. Reflect on what improvements you have made today and what you should keep doing. This will help you continue to grow and develop.

  5. Think about any mistakes you made today and how you can improve them next time. This will help you learn from your experiences and avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

  6. Jot down any new ideas you had during the day. This will help you capture your creativity and stay inspired.

  7. Consider any new knowledge, skills, or capabilities you acquired today. This will help you stay informed and continue to learn and grow.

  8. Plan for tomorrow's lab, if applicable, to ensure that you have everything you need and are prepared to make the most of your time.


Weekly Reflection:

  1. Review your daily self-reflection from the past week. This will help you see your progress over time and identify any trends or patterns.

  2. Evaluate your overall performance and identify areas for improvement. This will help you stay on track and reach your goals.

  3. Reflect on any new knowledge, skills, or capabilities you acquired over the past week. This will help you stay informed and continue to learn and grow.

  4. Set goals for the coming week, making sure they are aligned with your overall career aspirations. This will help you stay focused and motivated.

  5. Plan for the upcoming week, making sure to prioritize your most important tasks and allocate your time and resources effectively.


By engaging in daily and weekly self-reflection, you can stay focused on your goals, identify areas for improvement, and track your progress over time. This will help you make the most of your time and resources and achieve your professional and personal aspirations.

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