Review, Reflect, and Revise: Step 6 of the Searching for ANSWERS Inquiry Process

Learn how to help students review, reflect, and revise both the process and product of their inquiry learning during the ANSWERS inquiry process.

Grades 3-12 17 min Resource by:
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The sixth step puts the focus on reviewing, reflecting, and revising. This step is not a one-time event, and therefore, it should occur during all seven steps of the ANSWERS inquiry process.

During the “Review, Reflect, and Revise” step, students engage in an improvement cycle where they consider how they can improve both the process and product of their learning. They review by looking for opportunities to make improvements, they reflect by thinking carefully about potential changes to be more effective, and they revise by adjusting both their process and product of learning as needed to improve their practices and outcomes.

Students need to engage in this improvement cycle to polish and refine their creations before sharing them publicly with others. Engaging in this process also provides authentic opportunities to develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and growth mindset skills. These skills are increasingly in high demand, and fostering their development will benefit students both personally and professionally.

While this step appears near the end of the ANSWERS model, it should be integrated into every step of the inquiry process. If students are given multiple opportunities to pause and receive timely feedback, they can then make adjustments throughout the process to ensure they are hitting the learning targets. On the other hand, if they wait until the end to conduct this analysis, it may be too late in the process to make meaningful (and necessary) changes.

This step also forces students to intentionally pause and gauge how they are doing in order to plan their next steps and make any necessary adjustments. This ongoing evaluation and review between the development of the inquiry question and the sharing of findings will help students to refine and improve both their academic learning and their inquiry skills.

Catlin Tucker, an education leader in the area of blended learning, shares an important reminder about feedback and review. She explains, “Don’t spend 90% of your energy/time giving feedback on the finished product. Put that 90% into giving students feedback as they work!” In other words, if the feedback comes at the end of the process, it is too late. Feedback is most useful when it can help shape the final outcome, not after it is already finished. This advice applies equally to student self-critique and peer evaluation.

Students are probably more familiar with reflecting on the products they are creating than on the process they are using. However, this review process is essential in both areas. For every step in the inquiry process, students will have used a process that they can, and should, reflect upon. They should be able to review, reflect upon, and revise how they can be more effective in each of these six parts of the ANSWERS process:

  • Asking questions
  • Locating sources
  • Verifying source credibility
  • Critically absorbing and recording findings
  • Analyzing results
  • Designing a way to share their findings with a targeted audience

Ideally, students will have produced a product during each step that they can review, reflect upon, and revise. For example, they should be able to receive feedback on the quality of their inquiry question, the sources and methods they used, the notes they recorded, the organization of their information, and the design of their product or presentation that will communicate their learning.

To help guide your students through this step of the ANSWERS inquiry process, you can use this Review, Reflect, and Revise study guide template. Feel free to make copies of these templates and refine them as needed to best meet your students’ needs.

In this next section, we’ll explore some strategies for evaluating both the process and product during student inquiry.

Too often, we focus only on assessing and providing feedback for the “products” of student learning. It is important that we also provide students with opportunities to review, reflect upon, and revise the “process” of learning. For each step in the inquiry process, have students reflect on how they are growing as inquisitive thinkers and effective problem-solvers. By doing so, students will gain the practice needed to better refine their critical thinking, inquiry, and metacognition skills.

This is also an opportunity to provide students with formative feedback, so they can improve and adjust as needed to be ready for the summative grade on their final product. If they are staying true to a solid process, they will be more likely to produce a solid end product that best demonstrates their learning.

To help prompt student reflections, we can provide them with guiding questions and/or sentence stems.

Reflection Questions:

  • What strategies did you leverage that worked well for you?
  • What challenge did you experience, and how did you overcome the challenge?
  • What can you do differently and improve upon for next time?
  • How have your knowledge and skills grown?
  • What are your next steps to continue developing your skills and knowledge?
  • What are your future goals for using these skills?
  • For more questions that are backward-looking, inward-looking, outward-looking, and forward-looking, see this list of 40 reflection questions from teachers at High Tech High that is posted by Edutopia.

Reflection Stems:

  • I discovered that __________ worked really well for me.
  • I was able to overcome __________ by __________.
  • During this process, I have become better at __________.
  • The next time I do something like this, I will be sure to __________.
  • I used to think __________. Now, I think __________.
  • I think this process will also work for __________.
  • “My epic fail was __________. I learned __________. Tomorrow, I will try __________.”

The last stem is suggested by John Spencer, co-author of Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning. Spencer encourages teachers to model using this stem in front of students to normalize failing as an expected part of the learning and creation process.

Following are some digital strategies and tools that students can use to document and process their reflections throughout the inquiry process.

  • Journal reflections: Have students write in personal journals using tools such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Microsoft OneNote, or Seesaw (Tips).
  • Blog reflections: Have students journal in blogs where readers can respond to posts, making it a more authentic way for students to receive feedback from others. Blog options include Blogger, Google Sites (Tips), Weebly, and Wix.
  • Exit ticket reflections: Gather student reflections at the end of each day or at the end of each step in the process by using survey tools like Google Forms, Microsoft Forms, and SurveyMonkey.
  • Whip-around reflections: Have each student take turns sharing their reflection response in a tool like Padlet (Tips), Flipgrid (Tips), Miro, Wakelet, or LMS discussion boards.
  • Breakout room reflections: Have students share their reflection responses with partners or in small groups during videoconference breakout sessions.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of their projects and improve them throughout the inquiry process, students must have a clear understanding of what they are expected to produce. When students are clear about the expectations, they are much more likely to produce quality work. It’s easier to hit a target when you know where to aim.

To communicate these clear and meaningful expectations to your students, you must first design the learning experience and determine the intended outcome for yourself. One effective strategy for designing projects is to backwards design it. Begin by asking yourself what a quality finished product will look like and how it should align to the desired learning outcomes.

Once you have a clear vision in mind, create a rubric that defines the project criteria. If possible, have students provide input on the criteria for the rubric. When students are included in the process of developing the rubric, they will feel more ownership and be more empowered and motivated to meet the criteria. They will also have a better vision of the final product because they helped to define it.

As you develop your criteria, consider including these items in your rubric:

  • Learning targets to be demonstrated
  • Curricular content to be included
  • Types of media required or allowed
  • Quality indicators or specific project criteria that you’ll be evaluating
  • Scope of the project
  • A project timeline (with checkpoints and due dates)

This rubric should be shared with your students at the start of the inquiry project. Students should then evaluate their product throughout the process by comparing it to the rubric criteria. They can also reference teacher-provided exemplars, earlier drafts of their own work, and the work of their peers as they refine and improve their product. Students can use these same items to evaluate each other’s work, too.

The collaboration that comes from providing peer feedback has added benefits that can help students grow interpersonally. When students share their ideas, reasoning, and thinking during the feedback cycle, it also helps them further process and make deeper sense of their own learning. When they hear from their peers who are also seeking feedback, it is an opportunity to strengthen their own understanding of concepts and expand their own thinking. Ultimately, the collaboration process has the potential to generate new or even better ideas for both parties.

Having students provide self-feedback and peer feedback is an authentic experience, as it mirrors real work. A strong employee doesn’t wait for their supervisor to give them feedback on their finished work. Instead, they regularly self-reflect, seek feedback from colleagues, and reach out as needed to their supervisor in order to ensure their work meets expectations.

Like any skill, however, the feedback and review process must be learned. In order for students to be effective evaluators, we must be intentional about teaching them how to critically review and provide feedback. One way that we can teach them these skills is to have them practice evaluating both good and bad examples. They can also create and use Anchor Charts, T-Charts, or Y-Charts to help clarify what quality examples and effective feedback looks, sounds, and feels like.

As you teach these skills to your students, consider using some of these digital strategies and tools. They can be used to help students learn the skills for reviewing, reflecting upon, and providing feedback. These practices can also lead students toward a better final product.

  • Two Stars and a Wish: Students provide the recipient of the feedback with two stars (positive feedback) and a wish (something they wish would be different or changed). See the Two Stars and a Wish poster.
  • Pluses and Wishes: Students share their work with an individual or group of students. The students providing feedback then complete the Pluses and Wishes template by sharing specific positive comments and suggestions for things they think there should be more of, less of, or things they think should be changed.
  • Gallery Tours: Analog and/or digital Gallery Tours allow students to be both givers and receivers of feedback. As the students visit each exhibit in the gallery, they should leave two “I like” and one “I wonder” notes (digital or sticky). To learn more, see PBLWorks’ Using Gallery Walks for Critique and Revision in PBL.
  • Tuning Protocol: This protocol is often used by teachers to refine our practice and can be adapted for our students to use. In this protocol, the presenting student first shares their creation. Their peers then have an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. The peers then more closely examine the creation and discuss both positive and constructive feedback with each other while the presenting student remains silent, listens, and takes notes. Afterwards, the presenting student shares back a reflection on what they learned about their creation from their peers’ questions and conversation. To learn more, see PBLWorks’ Students Use Tuning Protocol for Critique and Revision in PBL and Edutopia’s The Tuning Protocol: A Framework for Personalized Professional Development.
  • TAG Protocol: In this critique process, students provide feedback by Telling something they like, Asking a thoughtful question, and Giving a positive suggestion. To learn more, see Edutopia’s 60-Second Strategy: TAG Feedback.
  • Give One/Get One Circle: To facilitate students giving and getting feedback from multiple perspectives, split your class in half and ask them to form an inner and outer circle, with students facing each other. The inner-circle student is given a specific amount of time to share their creation with their outer circle partner, who must remain quiet and listen/observe. After the time is up, the outer-circle student is given a specific amount of time to ask questions and provide one piece of feedback. Then, their roles are reversed, and the steps are repeated. After the students have given and gotten one piece of feedback, direct the inner or outer circle of students to move several people left or right to gain a new partner. Repeat as time allows.
  • CARES Peer Review: The Excelsior Online Writing Lab’s CARES Peer Review Feedback Form can be used by students to Congratulate the positives, Ask clarifying questions, Request more details, Evaluate the effectiveness, and Summarize what they learned from reviewing the creation.

As students complete the Review, Reflect, and Revise cycle throughout the inquiry process, try to create opportunities to recognize and celebrate students who perform this step well. Applaud the behavior of students who intentionally reflect on their work, provide good feedback to themselves and others, and/or use feedback to revise their thinking and make changes to both their process and product of learning. This positive feedback can help reinforce these practices and make it more likely that students will continue them in the future.

It’s always desirable to have students own the learning process, but you don’t want to be too distant. Teacher check-ins are still important. They allow you to track the progress of your students and provide timely interventions when students need to be guided back on course.

Finally, modeling can be a powerful teaching strategy, too. Like our students, we regularly engage in the improvement cycle. Our products are our lessons, and we review, reflect upon, and revise the design of these lessons each day. This provides us with a great opportunity to show our students how we practice self-improvement as teachers. We can even involve them actively in this process by giving our students opportunities to provide us with feedback on our lessons. Of course, our example will be more powerful if students see us using their feedback to revise our lessons. We should let them know what feedback we heard, what we changed, and why we changed it. By doing so, we show our students that we respect and value them. We also model what it looks and sounds like to ask and receive feedback as well as to have a growth mindset.

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