Sample list of mindfulness prompts in the Reflection Portfolio:

This prompt is the first in the series and is designed to focus the students on the subject-matter of the course from the ‘big picture’ perspective. This is a contextualized writing course and the so students are learning about the subject of “sustainability” and environmental science as they acquire and practice professional writing skills. This short video interviews astronauts who participated in NASA’s first successful mission into space. This mission was focused on getting to the moon, but they discovered during the journey that the view of Earth from space was the most profound aspect of the mission.

A view we have seen thousands of times in photographs and screens, this video takes us back to the time when we became consciously aware that we were on “spaceship Earth.” This reflection is the first step in situating the students in a state of conscious awareness of the subject-matter.


Reflection 1

Short Answer (one fully developed paragraph).
Explain the overview effect. Compare/contrast the astronauts’ perception before launch and after viewing earth from space. What changed after “earth gazing”? What effect did seeing earth from space have on you? Did your perception shift? One of the astronauts uses the word “sustainable” in the video, explain this term. Do you play a role in protecting the environment of “spaceship Earth”?


This second prompt defines “mindfulness” but also locates the importance of this concept in the students’ field:

Reflection 2

What is Mindfulness?

As you have discovered, the field of engineering requires life long learning. An important element of learning is metacognition.

Metacognition involves…


  • Connecting with how your prior experience and/or emotions are shaping your thinking


  •  Noticing the quality/intensity of your thinking


  •  Directing/Correcting your thinking

Reflecting on these aspects of your thinking helps you to acknowledge your strengths and redirect yourself in areas that are limiting to your learning and development. This process is especially important when you make mistakes, or are disappointed with an outcome. What can you learn from that experience? All success is riddled with failure, so get in the habit of reflecting deeply on this important aspect of learning.

Did you know that Stanford’s School of Engineering developed a consortium just to get engineers to reflect? Indeed. Bottom line: they believe that mindfulness improves engineering. According to Stanford’s Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education website, “examin[ing] a past experience or performance on a task is a simple strategy that successful engineers use on a regular basis.”

Click here to go to learn more about reflection in engineering. (Links to an external site.)

Reflection 3

All reflection assignments are classified as participation points, and graded CR/NC. This third reflection asks students to self-evaluate by rating their performance on Formal Paper #1. Students also just completed the peer-review process, and they can often leave that process feeling empowered, or intimidated. This reflection helps build awareness of this experience and process their reaction to criticism.


How successful were you on completing your resume project? What would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10? Explain your answer.

Thank you for participating in peer-review! What did you learn about yourself in this context? What strengths did you notice?

What areas do you want to focus on so that next time you can improve your experience/outcome? If you did not participate fully, please reflect on this decision. Remember: Think meta-cognitively (think about your thinking). Why did you make that choice?

Reflection 4

By the time students complete this reflection, they have had a few successes and a few failures…in fact, I try to time this reflection following a round of tough grading…typically after the Mechanics quiz, which tests their APA style and editing prowess.

1. Reflect honestly on your reaction to a “bad” grade or test score. How do you feel? What do you think? What do you do? Peer Discussion post.

2. Next, read the excerpt from Saga Brigg’s “25 Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset” (below) and label your response in #1 as either a growth or a fixed mindset. Explain how your mindset may help you or hinder your success when navigating failure.


A “growth mindset,” as Dweck calls it, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a tendency to believe that you can grow. In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., she explains that while a “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, a growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

The consequences of believing that intelligence and personality can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, Dweck found in her two decades of research with both children and adults, are remarkable. She writes:

“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character, well then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

The fixed mindset can negatively impact all aspects of your life, Dweck says.

“I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves in [a learning setting], in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”

But when you start viewing things as mutable, the situation gives way to the bigger picture.

“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

This is important because it can actually change what you strive for and what you see as success. By changing the definition, significance, and impact of failure, you change the deepest meaning of effort.


Reflection 5

Sometimes these reflections ask students to focus on their progress…the goal is to get students into the habit of thinking metacognitively…

Discussion: Progress Report on Interview
 For your second formal essay, you will be conducting an interview with an industry professional. Please provide an update on who you hope to interview, what leads you have for this interview, how you are going to conduct research on  internships in your field in order to obtain a source for the interview, or any worries/questions that you have about this assignment. Remember: it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. Please be generous if you have any contacts/ sources that might help your peers in our 100w community.

Reply to two peers for full credit.

Reflection 6

During the team proposal project, students engage in a whole class discussion of a case study about a team that receives a “D” on a collaborative presentation. We practice “active listening” by restating another person’s view prior to adding our own view during this activity. Students are asked to assign the role of “most responsible” to one of the members of the team and make a claim with evidence from the case study.

a) After practicing “active listening” and reading the Case Study, please reflect on what you found challenging about this activity and/or what you would do if “Donald” was on your proposal team. How would you solve this problem?

Reflection 7

As your team progresses, you will encounter barriers. How has your team handled these barriers? Have you practiced Active Listening? Overall, what would you say is going well on the final project? What needs improvement? Have you experienced any challenges similar to those in the Case Study? What have you learned about yourself as you move toward your goal on this final project?

(Optional final team project reflection)

Please reflect on teamwork. Overall, how well did your team move the project forward? Did your team overcome any obstacles? Who was especially valuable to the team? How would you rate your contribution to the team on a scale of 1-10. 10 being superior team effort. What did you learn about yourself as a writer, as an engineer, as a leader, as a collaborator?

Optional Reflections (I may pick one or two of these each semester, or not)

Other reflection options that I weave into the course near the end (time permitting) are listed below. I definitely include one of the teamwork reflections and a summative reflection of the learning in their course. However, this summative reflection is typically done via a survey and includes several other aspects of the course learning and instructional design components:

1. What have you done well and not so well on your technical writing assignments. What lessons have you attempted to apply? How well did this work? What do you need to continue to work on? What have you changed about your writing process? Do you view revision differently? Has your awareness of audience/purpose changed? Have you been resistant to any strategies or feedback?

2. You just completed the Exit Exam. How did that work for you? Did you feel prepared? Frustrated? Confident? Do you think your perspective changed from the beginning of the semester to now on: 1) writing, 2) sustainability 3) climate change?.




I will be adding TEXT HERE explaining the background and research of mindfulness…

Include: Leadership video clip, University of Texas at Austin study, Carol Dweck and “Mastery” by Sal Kahn