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Reflection Strategy: “Rose-Thorn-Bud”

Reflection Strategy: “Rose-Thorn-Bud”

Person sitting on beach at sunset

The Rose-Thorn-Bud strategy is a creative reflection strategy for use near the end of a term. It’s a type of “retrieval practice.” Retrieval practice is an evidence-based method that essentially says more powerful learning occurs when students channel their energies towards pulling information out after being exposed to it as opposed to re-reading or reviewing notes, which is more passive (Agarwal & Bain, 2019). So how do you implement the Rose-Thorn-Bud strategy? Ask students to reflect on three questions:

  • Rose: What is one concept you’ve learned really well?
  • Thorn: What is one concept that has been a challenge for you?
  • Bud: What is one concept that has sparked new ideas?

The “Rose” prompt reminds students to think of their achievements in the course, which can be especially beneficial if it’s been a course they’ve struggled with. The “Thorn” prompt encourages metacognitive thinking and those parts of the course material where they can direct more of their cognitive energy and focus. Lastly, “Bud” connects to their creative side and prompts them to think about new ideas for end-of-term projects or for future courses that may build on or relate to the current course.

If you’d like assistance with this or anything related to instructional design don’t hesitate to contact us at learning_design@davidsondavie.edu!


Agarwal, P. K., & Bain, P. M. (2019). Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning (1st edition). Jossey-Bass.
Retrieval Practice https://www.retrievalpractice.org/why-it-works