Generally, a reflective piece of writing requires you to map the progress and changes in your thinking about a subject or a topic, or about the learning journey in which you have engaged.
To reflect (verb) = to think deeply about / to carefully consider.
Writing a reflective piece of writing may include some of the following:
- You may be asked to make regular entries in a journal (over a period of time), which will then have to be submitted and assessed. You may also be asked to use your reflections built up over a period of time as the basis of an essay or a report.
- If the journal is to be assessed, it should be well structured and clearly expressed for the benefit of your audience, even though it may have elements of personal writing.
- If the journal is for yourself and is to be used as the basis of an essay or a report, make sure that your writing will make sense to you when you refer to it to compose your essay or report.
- Consider the following when writing a reflective journal:
- describe the events and your experience – What did I do/hear/see?
- interpret and evaluate the events from your perspective – What do I think about it now? How does it relate to other things that I know? Explain your experience; reveal your new insights, connections with other learning, your hypotheses, and your conclusions
- reflect on how this information will be useful to you – What questions do I have? Have I changed how I think about the situation? Where do I go from here?
- If you have been given specific questions or tasks to perform, use these as headings to help organise your writing.
Questions to help you hone your reflective writing skills
- What have I learnt from this process?
- What do I 'now know' that I did not before?
- What insights have I gained?
- What are (my/the) perceived strengths and weaknesses that I have observed?
- What were the challenges I have encountered/observed and how well (did I/my team) handle them?
- What would I do better next time and with what anticipated results?
- What theory proved to be useful and why? What have I learnt from this?
Reflective writing language
In writing your reflective paper, it is useful to use 'reflective phraseology' in your response. Some examples may be:
- Upon reflection, it was observed that......
- In reflecting upon the tutorial exercise, it was useful to observe.....
- To reflect upon the learning process this semester, it can be argued that several factors influenced.........
In your response, please ensure that your are analysing and reflecting on what you have learnt, and not simply describing what you have done.
External online resources
- Oxford Brookes University - Reflective Writing (opens an external site)
Adapted from the following sources:
Morley-Warner, T. 2009, Academic writing is… A guide to writing in a university context, Association for Academic Language and Learning, Sydney.
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology 2009, Study and Learning Centre, accessed 15 June 2009, <http://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/lsu/>.