Ignatian Pedagogy: The Meaning of Reflection

How can we make learning mean something? How can we go beyond conveying information to helping students grow in understanding and wisdom?

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At a Jesuit institution like Georgetown, we might turn for answers to the rich tradition of Ignatian Pedagogy. This contemplative approach to teaching is rooted in the sixteenth-century spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius—and it continues to offer paths to deeper learning today. In a class steeped in Ignatian Pedagogy, students move through a repeated cycle of experience, reflection, and action. They take the time to connect course material to other things they’ve studied, to their own lives, to the world outside the classroom, to societal concerns. In turn, these connections help to guide them as they decide what to do next, including everything from in-class decisions (e.g., what topic to focus on in a paper) to larger academic pursuits (e.g., what to go on to study) and their lives more generally (e.g., what kinds of jobs call to them; what they want to do with themselves in the long term; how they want to improve the world for others). Of course, all these decisions lead to new experiences and more opportunities to reflect. As the cycle continues, meaning emerges at every step along the way.

At CNDLS, we’d be happy to help you think about how to include Ignatian Pedagogy in your course. To find out more, visit the Teaching Commons’ new Ignatian Pedagogy page. And, as always, reach out to us if there’s anything we can do to help!


This spring, we’re using the CNDLS blog to highlight the Teaching Commons, a compilation of resources and case studies designed to help faculty revitalize their courses and gain insights into practical issues in pedagogy at Georgetown. As a living resource, the site evolves to encompass new scholarship in teaching and learning, as well as technological innovations that are changing and enhancing the current teaching landscape. To help you explore all that the Commons has to offer, we’re showcasing tools and other information on a semi-weekly basis, guiding you through the semester in real time. Missed the other posts? Check out our takes on crafting a syllabus, starting the semester, leading discussions, evaluating learningdesigning assignments, and active learning, then hear from fellow faculty in our interview highlights.