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Reflective Writing

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What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing explores experiences/practice or concepts/theories in order to demonstrate learning and record how your thinking has changed.

Typically, reflective writing will include

  • Description of an experience or concept
  • Interpretation of the experience or concept and what this means for you
  • Outcomes of learning and new thinking, and how you intend to apply your new thinking/learning

 

Reflective thinking frameworks

Reflective thinking frameworks help you to think and then write reflectively. Choose a framework and follow the steps to help you gain deeper insight as you reflect.


1. The Gibbs reflective cycle

Gibbs reflective cycle

Figure 1. Gibbs reflective cycle(from Gibbs. 1988, as cited in “Teaching Reflective Writing,” n.d.)

 

2. Kolb’s experiential learning cycle

Kolbs experiential cycle

Figure 2. Experiential learning cycle (from Kolb, 1984, as cited in McLeod, 2013)

 

3. Rolfe, Freshwater and Jaspers’ reflective practice cycle

Rolfe reflective practice cycle

Figure 3.  Reflective practice cycle (adapted from Rolfe, Freshwater, & Jaspers, 2001, as cited in “Models of Reflection,”  n.d.)

 

Use a framework

Use the questions below to help you think and then write reflectively.

Reflective Thinking Framework

Reflective Writing Framework

What happened?
What did I do?
What learning was I applying?
What did others do?

 

Description (What?)

What did I notice?
What was important for me?
What were my thoughts /feelings?
What did/did not go well, and why? 
What other learning or experience/practice can I relate to this?
What has changed in me because of this experience?

 

Interpretation (So what?)

How can I do things differently?
What do I now understand and how will this impact in my work/life?
What questions do I now have that I will explore further?
What changes to my practice do I intend to make?

 

Outcomes (What next?)

 

 

Reflective writing style

Reflective writing is personal writing in an academic environment.  Note the following style aspects:

Essential:

  • Correct grammar
  • Correct spelling
  • Structured and logical
  • Meaningful titles and subject lines (for online forums)

Recommended:

  • Ideas supported with references (this will be essential if your reflection is an assignment task)

Acceptable:

  • Use of “I”

Not acceptable in online forums:

  • Negative attitudes
  • Slang
  • Foul language
  • Emotional outbursts
  • SHOUTING
  • Sarcasm
  • “Me-tooing” without adding to forum discussions

 

   

 

Reflective Writing Sentence Structures

Construct a sentence by selecting words from each column within each section.  For example:
For me, the most meaningful element was . . .

Description: What?

State what, where, who, and when, as appropriate to your situation.

Interpretation: So what?



For me, the (most)

important
significant
relevant
meaningful
useful
successful

aspect
element
idea
component
experience
learning

was / were . . .



resulted from . . .
happened when . . .

At first,
initially,
Previously,
Although,
Later,
Consequently

thought (did not think) . . .
noticed (did not notice) . . .
realised (did not realise) . . .
considered (did not consider) . . .
wondered (did not wonder) . . .
felt (did not feel) . . .



This

might be . . .
could be . . .
is perhaps . . .
is most likely to be . . .
is probably . . .
is important . . .
is not . . .

because . . .
due to . . .
explained to . . .
related to . . .



This

reminds me of . . .
relates  to . . .
is similar to . . .
is unlike . . .
demonstrates . . .
illustrates . . .
convinces me . . .

 



I

felt . . .
noticed . . .
discovered . . .
realised . . .
found . . .
learned . . .
am unsure about . . .
wonder . . .

 

Outcomes: What next?




Having

read . . .
experienced . . .
applied . . .
discussed . . .
examined . . .
analysed . . .
considered . . .




I now

feel . . .
think . . .
believe . . .
question . . .
know . . .
wonder . . .
will . . .




I have / have not

learned . . .
developed . . .
improved . . .
adapted . . .
modified . . .
adjusted . . .




my

skills in . . .
understanding of . . .
beliefs around . . .
knowledge of . . .
ability to . . .

 

This means that . . .
This makes me feel . . .



This

is
could be
will be

essential to me . . .
important to me . . .
useful . . .


because . . .

As a next step, I need to . . .
Next, I will / will not . . .
In future, I will / will not . . .
If . . . then I . . .
I would like to. . .
I suggest . . .

Adapted from Hampton (n.d.)

References

Hampton, M. (n.d.). Reflective writing: A basic introduction. Retrieved from http://www.port.ac.uk/media/contacts-and-departments/student-support-services/ask/dowlnloads/Reflective-writing ---a basic intrdouction.pdf

McLeod, S. (2013). Kolb: Learning styles. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html

Models of reflection. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/a3_aspects/pages/ReflectionModels.htm

Teaching reflective writing. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/new-to-teaching/STEM-esources/teaching-reflective-writing