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reflective writing uwa

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Study Skills

Reflective practice toolkit, introduction.

  • What is reflective practice?
  • Everyday reflection
  • Models of reflection
  • Barriers to reflection
  • Free writing
  • Reflective writing exercise
  • Bibliography

reflective writing uwa

Many people worry that they will be unable to write reflectively but chances are that you do it more than you think!  It's a common task during both work and study from appraisal and planning documents to recording observations at the end of a module. The following pages will guide you through some simple techniques for reflective writing as well as how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

What is reflective writing?

Writing reflectively involves critically analysing an experience, recording how it has impacted you and what you plan to do with your new knowledge. It can help you to reflect on a deeper level as the act of getting something down on paper often helps people to think an experience through.

The key to reflective writing is to be analytical rather than descriptive. Always ask why rather than just describing what happened during an experience. 


Reflective writing is...

  • Written in the first person
  • Free flowing
  • A tool to challenge assumptions
  • A time investment

Reflective writing isn't...

  • Written in the third person
  • Descriptive
  • What you think you should write
  • A tool to ignore assumptions
  • A waste of time

Adapted from The Reflective Practice Guide: an Interdisciplinary Approach / Barbara Bassot.

You can learn more about reflective writing in this handy video from Hull University:

Created by SkillsTeamHullUni

  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (Word)
  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (PDF)

Where might you use reflective writing?

You can use reflective writing in many aspects of your work, study and even everyday life. The activities below all contain some aspect of reflective writing and are common to many people:

1. Job applications

Both preparing for and writing job applications contain elements of reflective writing. You need to think about the experience that makes you suitable for a role and this means reflection on the skills you have developed and how they might relate to the specification. When writing your application you need to expand on what you have done and explain what you have learnt and why this matters - key elements of reflective writing.

2. Appraisals

In a similar way, undertaking an appraisal is a good time to reflect back on a certain period of time in post. You might be asked to record what went well and why as well as identifying areas for improvement.

3. Written feedback

If you have made a purchase recently you are likely to have received a request for feedback. When you leave a review of a product or service online then you need to think about the pros and cons. You may also have gone into detail about why the product was so good or the service was so bad so other people know how to judge it in the future.

4. Blogging

Blogs are a place to offer your own opinion and can be a really good place to do some reflective writing. Blogger often take a view on something and use their site as a way to share it with the world. They will often talk about the reasons why they like/dislike something - classic reflective writing.

5. During the research process

When researchers are working on a project they will often think about they way they are working and how it could be improved as well as considering different approaches to achieve their research goal. They will often record this in some way such as in a lab book and this questioning approach is a form of reflective writing.

6. In academic writing

Many students will be asked to include some form of reflection in an academic assignment, for example when relating a topic to their real life circumstances. They are also often asked to think about their opinion on or reactions to texts and other research and write about this in their own work.

Think about ... When you reflect

Think about all of the activities you do on a daily basis. Do any of these contain elements of reflective writing? Make a list of all the times you have written something reflective over the last month - it will be longer than you think!

Reflective terminology

A common mistake people make when writing reflectively is to focus too much on describing their experience. Think about some of the phrases below and try to use them when writing reflectively to help you avoid this problem:

  • The most important thing was...
  • At the time I felt...
  • This was likely due to...
  • After thinking about it...
  • I learned that...
  • I need to know more about...
  • Later I realised...
  • This was because...
  • This was like...
  • I wonder what would happen if...
  • I'm still unsure about...
  • My next steps are...

Always try and write in the first person when writing reflectively. This will help you to focus on your thoughts/feelings/experiences rather than just a description of the experience.

Using reflective writing in your academic work

Man writing in a notebook at a desk with laptop

Many courses will also expect you to reflect on your own learning as you progress through a particular programme. You may be asked to keep some type of reflective journal or diary. Depending on the needs of your course this may or may not be assessed but if you are using one it's important to write reflectively. This can help you to look back and see how your thinking has evolved over time - something useful for job applications in the future. Students at all levels may also be asked to reflect on the work of others, either as part of a group project or through peer review of their work. This requires a slightly different approach to reflection as you are not focused on your own work but again this is a useful skill to develop for the workplace.

You can see some useful examples of reflective writing in academia from Monash University ,  UNSW (the University of New South Wales) and Sage . Several of these examples also include feedback from tutors which you can use to inform your own work.

Laptop/computer/broswer/research by StockSnap via Pixabay licenced under CC0.

Now that you have a better idea of what reflective writing is and how it can be used it's time to practice some techniques.

This page has given you an understanding of what reflective writing is and where it can be used in both work and study. Now that you have a better idea of how reflective writing works the next two pages will guide you through some activities you can use to get started.

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  • Next: Free writing >>
  • Last Updated: Jun 21, 2023 3:24 PM
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Writing Beginner

What Is Reflective Writing? (Explained W/ 20+ Examples)

I’ll admit, reflecting on my experiences used to seem pointless—now, I can’t imagine my routine without it.

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing is a personal exploration of experiences, analyzing thoughts, feelings, and learnings to gain insights. It involves critical thinking, deep analysis, and focuses on personal growth through structured reflection on past events.

In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about reflective writing — with lots of examples.

What Is Reflective Writing (Long Description)?

A serene and introspective setting with a man writing -- What Is Reflective Writing

Table of Contents

Reflective writing is a method used to examine and understand personal experiences more deeply.

This kind of writing goes beyond mere description of events or tasks.

Instead, it involves looking back on these experiences, analyzing them, and learning from them.

It’s a process that encourages you to think critically about your actions, decisions, emotions, and responses.

By reflecting on your experiences, you can identify areas for improvement, make connections between theory and practice, and enhance your personal and professional development. Reflective writing is introspective, but it should also be analytical and critical.

It’s not just about what happened.

It’s about why it happened, how it affected you, and what you can learn from it.

This type of writing is commonly used in education, professional development, and personal growth, offering a way for individuals to gain insights into their personal experiences and behaviors.

Types of Reflective Writing

Reflective writing can take many forms, each serving different purposes and providing various insights into the writer’s experiences.

Here are ten types of reflective writing, each with a unique focus and approach.

Journaling – The Daily Reflection

Journaling is a type of reflective writing that involves keeping a daily or regular record of experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

It’s a private space where you can freely express yourself and reflect on your day-to-day life.

Example: Today, I realized that the more I try to control outcomes, the less control I feel. Letting go isn’t about giving up; it’s about understanding that some things are beyond my grasp.

Example: Reflecting on the quiet moments of the morning, I realized how much I value stillness before the day begins. It’s a reminder to carve out space for peace in my routine.

Learning Logs – The Educational Tracker

Learning logs are used to reflect on educational experiences, track learning progress, and identify areas for improvement.

They often focus on specific learning objectives or outcomes.

Example: This week, I struggled with understanding the concept of reflective writing. However, after reviewing examples and actively engaging in the process, I’m beginning to see how it can deepen my learning.

Example: After studying the impact of historical events on modern society, I see the importance of understanding history to navigate the present. It’s a lesson in the power of context.

Critical Incident Journals – The Turning Point

Critical incident journals focus on a significant event or “critical incident” that had a profound impact on the writer’s understanding or perspective.

These incidents are analyzed in depth to extract learning and insights.

Example: Encountering a homeless person on my way home forced me to confront my biases and assumptions about homelessness. It was a moment of realization that has since altered my perspective on social issues.

Example: Missing a crucial deadline taught me about the consequences of procrastination and the value of time management. It was a wake-up call to prioritize and organize better.

Project Diaries – The Project Chronicle

Project diaries are reflective writings that document the progress, challenges, and learnings of a project over time.

They provide insights into decision-making processes and project management strategies.

Example: Launching the community garden project was more challenging than anticipated. It taught me the importance of community engagement and the value of patience and persistence.

Example: Overcoming unexpected technical issues during our project showed me the importance of adaptability and teamwork. Every obstacle became a stepping stone to innovation.

Portfolios – The Comprehensive Showcase

Portfolios are collections of work that also include reflective commentary.

They showcase the writer’s achievements and learning over time, reflecting on both successes and areas for development.

Example: Reviewing my portfolio, I’m proud of how much I’ve grown as a designer. Each project reflects a step in my journey, highlighting my evolving style and approach.

Example: As I added my latest project to my portfolio, I reflected on the journey of my skills evolving. Each piece is a chapter in my story of growth and learning.

Peer Reviews – The Collaborative Insight

Peer reviews involve writing reflectively about the work of others, offering constructive feedback while also considering one’s own learning and development.

Example: Reviewing Maria’s project, I admired her innovative approach, which inspired me to think more creatively about my own work. It’s a reminder of the value of diverse perspectives.

Example: Seeing the innovative approach my peer took on a similar project inspired me to rethink my own methods. It’s a testament to the power of sharing knowledge and perspectives.

Personal Development Plans – The Future Blueprint

Personal development plans are reflective writings that outline goals, strategies, and actions for personal or professional growth.

They include reflections on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Example: My goal to become a more effective communicator will require me to step out of my comfort zone and seek opportunities to speak publicly. It’s daunting but necessary for my growth.

Example: Identifying my fear of public speaking in my plan pushed me to take a course on it. Acknowledging weaknesses is the first step to turning them into strengths.

Reflective Essays – The Structured Analysis

Reflective essays are more formal pieces of writing that analyze personal experiences in depth.

They require a structured approach to reflection, often including theories or models to frame the reflection.

Example: Reflecting on my leadership role during the group project, I applied Tuckman’s stages of group development to understand the dynamics at play. It helped me appreciate the natural progression of team development.

Example: In my essay, reflecting on a failed project helped me understand the role of resilience in success. Failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s part of its process.

Reflective Letters – The Personal Correspondence

Reflective letters involve writing to someone (real or imagined) about personal experiences and learnings.

It’s a way to articulate thoughts and feelings in a structured yet personal format.

Example: Dear Future Self, Today, I learned the importance of resilience. Faced with failure, I found the strength to persevere a nd try again. This lesson, I hope, will stay with me as I navigate the challenges ahead.

Example: Writing a letter to my past self, I shared insights on overcoming challenges with patience and persistence. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come and the hurdles I’ve overcome.

Blogs – The Public Journal

Blogs are a form of reflective writing that allows writers to share their experiences, insights, and learnings with a wider audience.

They often combine personal narrative with broader observations about life, work, or society.

Example: In my latest blog post, I explored the journey of embracing vulnerability. Sharing my own experiences of failure and doubt not only helped me process these feelings but also connected me with readers going through similar struggles. It’s a powerful reminder of the strength found in sharing our stories.

Example: In a blog post about starting a new career path, I shared the fears and excitement of stepping into the unknown. It’s a journey of self-discovery and embracing new challenges.

What Are the Key Features of Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing is characterized by several key features that distinguish it from other types of writing.

These features include personal insight, critical analysis, descriptive narrative, and a focus on personal growth.

  • Personal Insight: Reflective writing is deeply personal, focusing on the writer’s internal thoughts, feelings, and reactions. It requires introspection and a willingness to explore one’s own experiences in depth.
  • Critical Analysis: Beyond simply describing events, reflective writing involves analyzing these experiences. This means looking at the why and how, not just the what. It involves questioning, evaluating, and interpreting your experiences in relation to yourself, others, and the world.
  • Descriptive Narrative: While reflective writing is analytical, it also includes descriptive elements. Vivid descriptions of experiences, thoughts, and feelings help to convey the depth of the reflection.
  • Focus on Growth: A central aim of reflective writing is to foster personal or professional growth. It involves identifying lessons learned, recognizing patterns, and considering how to apply insights gained to future situations.

These features combine to make reflective writing a powerful tool for learning and development.

It’s a practice that encourages writers to engage deeply with their experiences, challenge their assumptions, and grow from their reflections.

What Is the Structure of Reflective Writing?

The structure of reflective writing can vary depending on the context and purpose, but it typically follows a general pattern that facilitates deep reflection.

A common structure includes an introduction, a body that outlines the experience and the reflection on it, and a conclusion.

  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for the reflective piece. It briefly introduces the topic or experience being reflected upon and may include a thesis statement that outlines the main insight or theme of the reflection.
  • Body: The body is where the bulk of the reflection takes place. It often follows a chronological order, detailing the experience before moving into the reflection. This section should explore the writer’s thoughts, feelings, reactions, and insights related to the experience. It’s also where critical analysis comes into play, examining causes, effects, and underlying principles.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion wraps up the reflection, summarizing the key insights gained and considering how these learnings might apply to future situations. It’s an opportunity to reflect on personal growth and the broader implications of the experience.

This structure is flexible and can be adapted to suit different types of reflective writing.

However, the focus should always be on creating a coherent narrative that allows for deep personal insight and learning.

How Do You Start Reflective Writing?

Starting reflective writing can be challenging, as it requires diving into personal experiences and emotions.

Here are some tips to help initiate the reflective writing process:

  • Choose a Focus: Start by selecting an experience or topic to reflect upon. It could be a specific event, a general period in your life, a project you worked on, or even a book that made a significant impact on you.
  • Reflect on Your Feelings: Think about how the experience made you feel at the time and how you feel about it now. Understanding your emotional response is a crucial part of reflective writing.
  • Ask Yourself Questions: Begin by asking yourself questions related to the experience. What did you learn from it? How did it challenge your assumptions? How has it influenced your thinking or behavior?
  • Write a Strong Opening: Your first few sentences should grab the reader’s attention and clearly indicate what you will be reflecting on. You can start with a striking fact, a question, a quote, or a vivid description of a moment from the experience.
  • Keep It Personal: Remember that reflective writing is personal. Use “I” statements to express your thoughts, feelings, and insights. This helps to maintain the focus on your personal experience and learning journey.

Here is a video about reflective writing that I think you’ll like:

Reflective Writing Toolkit

Finding the right tools and resources has been key to deepening my reflections and enhancing my self-awareness.

Here’s a curated toolkit that has empowered my own reflective practice:

  • Journaling Apps: Apps like Day One or Reflectly provide structured formats for daily reflections, helping to capture thoughts and feelings on the go.
  • Digital Notebooks: Tools like Evernote or Microsoft OneNote allow for organized, searchable reflections that can include text, images, and links.
  • Writing Prompts: Websites like WritingPrompts.com offer endless ideas to spark reflective writing, making it easier to start when you’re feeling stuck.
  • Mind Mapping Software: Platforms like MindMeister help organize thoughts visually, which can be especially helpful for reflective planning or brainstorming.
  • Blogging Platforms: Sites like WordPress or Medium offer a space to share reflective writings publicly, fostering community and feedback. You’ll need a hosting platform. I recommend Bluehost or Hostarmada for beginners.
  • Guided Meditation Apps: Apps such as Headspace or Calm can support reflective writing by clearing the mind and fostering a reflective state before writing.
  • Audio Recording Apps: Tools like Otter.ai not only allow for verbal reflection but also transcribe conversations, which can then be reflected upon in writing.
  • Time Management Apps: Resources like Forest or Pomodoro Technique apps help set dedicated time for reflection, making it a regular part of your routine.
  • Creative Writing Software: Platforms like Scrivener cater to more in-depth reflective projects, providing extensive organizing and formatting options.
  • Research Databases: Access to journals and articles through databases like Google Scholar can enrich reflective writing with theoretical frameworks and insights.

Final Thoughts: What Is Reflective Writing?

Reflective writing, at its core, is a deeply personal practice.

Yet, it also holds the potential to bridge cultural divides. By sharing reflective writings that explore personal experiences through the lens of different cultural backgrounds, we can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse worldviews.

Read This Next:

  • What Is a Prompt in Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 200 Examples)
  • What Is A Personal Account In Writing? (47 Examples)
  • Why Does Academic Writing Require Strict Formatting?
  • What Is A Lens In Writing? (The Ultimate Guide)

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10.1: Writing About Writing- Becoming a Reflective Practitioner

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What allows some learners to excel not only in a single career, but also in a wide variety of situations? Why do some individuals succeed in so many different environments?

Consider the case of Atul Gawande, one of America’s most famous surgeons. Professionally, he trained to be a general and endocrine surgeon. In the early 2000s, Gawande began publishing books based on his professional experiences, beginning with Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science . Later, in 2009, he published his first book targeted at a more general audience, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right , which brought together lessons learned from not only his own medical background, but also the crucial lessons honed by the airline industry that help practitioners operate within uncertainty amidst high-risk environments. In 2012, he repurposed material from The Checklist Manifesto for a very different rhetorical situation: his extraordinarily popular TED Talk, “How do we heal medicine?”. In 2014, he wrote Being Mortal, a searing critique of America’s end-of-life healthcare with his own father’s death as an example .

Throughout all of this, Gawande has remained a highly skilled practitioner of medicine.

To become a successful, specialized practitioner, Gawande needed to complete the proper education, first by attending the right medical school, then by completing the subsequent residencies that allowed him to further hone his craft. This specialized training obviously transferred over to his eventual career. But what allows him to truly stand out, with his books, articles, and speeches, is his ability to re-purpose and generalize certain tactics from other contexts. The idea of checklists was repurposed from one specialized industry to another. And nearly all of Gawande’s publications reflect on his own personal experience to consider what kinds of strategies work for others more generally. Finally, his success in a broad array of contexts (writings published for other surgeons, those published for the healthcare industry more generally, and his writings and speeches targeted towards a general audience) relies on certain rhetorical strategies, such as telling poignant anecdotes, skills that tend to be honed in writing and communication courses rather than medicine.

As an educator might say, Gawande’s success relies heavily on his ability to cognitively transfer knowledge from one area to another. But how? How do people like Gawande perfect the ability to transfer?

Reflective Practitioners and Transfer

The idea of a “reflective practitioner” was developed by Donald Alan Schön, culminating in his book, The Reflective Practioner (1983). His early research and writing on reflective practitioners pioneered an entire approach to learning, especially in writing programs, in part because it clearly demonstrates the link between theories of cognition and the importance of certain writing practices. Kara Taczak and Liane Robertson define a reflective practitioner as

[s]omeone who is continually exposed to different writing situations and develops, through those situations, a repertoire of knowledge that can be integrated and repurposed. This characterization allows for reflection as a theory, as a practice, and as a means for encouraging transfer. [1]

If a reflective practitioner learns to re-purpose certain kinds of knowledge for other contexts, this kind of “learning-to-learn” strategy can be distinguished from the default form of learning that many courses encourage. When students commonly prepare for and eventually complete an assignment, they view the prompt as a set of prescriptions that explain how to succeed in that particular task within the course. A “reflective” assignment, however, will explicitly encourage a student to think beyond a certain part of the course, linking it with other Units, with other courses the student may be taking, and ultimately with highly disparate contexts and environments. Truly reflective assignments ask students to bridge academic and non-academic situations.

But where does this sort of transfer begin?

Prior Knowledge, Metacognition, and Reflective Writing

The key to successful transfer is the ability to integrate knowledge the student already has with new knowledge. A traditional persuasive essay assignment, for example, will prompt a first year writing student to recall what they already know about making arguments and deploy those strategies within a highly formal academic essay. The prior knowledge in this example is the student’s familiarity with debate and argumentation. The new knowledge might be the ability to persuade an academic reader by deploying “they say / I say” rhetorical strategies or successfully integrating research to help prove a claim.

In an effort to foster transfer, a writing instructor might then ask the student to not only attempt a persuasive essay, but then, after the assignment has been drafted and revised, to write about the process of writing the essay. The goal in such a reflective assignment is to prompt the student to recognize the prior knowledge, the new knowledge, and what might carry over (transfer) into other contexts and future situations. “At the heart of the contention is the issue of generalizability,” suggest Kathleen Blake Yancey, Liane Roberston, and Kara Taczak. [2] Certain forms of writing are particularly suited to cultivating this knack for generalizability, repurposing, and remixing. These more reflective writing situations require metacognition, the ability of a student to “to reflect on their process and their knowledge.” [3]

Megacognition is a buzzword associated with reflective learning. Crudely defined, it means something like, “thinking about thinking.” What’s key about metacognition is that it’s a habit of mind—something that has to be practiced. Here’s an informal video introduction to the idea of metacognition:

One of the most important goals for a writer is to learn how to use reflection to help further their educational and career practices. In the very broadest sense, all burgeoning writers must remain attuned to the following questions:

Who am I as a writer? What do I believe about writing? What do I understand about writing? What do I know about writing from previous experiences? How do I write/compose in different situations? Do I write the same way in all situations? How can I use what I learn from one context to the next? [4]

Such metacognitive reflections can be cultivated at various stages within the process and within a writing course. Prewriting exercises, the revision process, and final draft cover letters often prompt students to exercise metacognition. In addition, however, certain reflective writing situations place metacognition center stage. In such assignments, students should keep in mind the bigger goal: to facilitate transfer and become a better learner.

The following chapters will offer a few different strategies for both practicing metacognition and transferring knowledge.

  • "Metacognition and The Reflective Writing Practitioner: An Integrated Knowledge Approach," from Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition and Writing , ed. Patricia Portanova, et al, WAC Clearhouse, 2017, p. 221. ↵
  • Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing , University Press of Colorado, 2014, 6. ↵
  • Taczak and Robertson 215. ↵
  • Taczak and Robertson 223. ↵
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Reflective Writing Guide

A great deal of your time at university will be spent thinking; thinking about what people have said, what you have read, what you yourself are thinking and how your thinking has changed. It is generally believed that the thinking process involves two aspects: reflective thinking and critical thinking. They are not separate processes; rather, they are closely connected (Brookfield 1987).

reflective writing uwa

Figure 1: The Thinking Process (adapted from Mezirow 1990, Schon 1987, Brookfield 1987)

Reflective thinking

Reflection is: 

  • a form of personal response to experiences, situations, events or new information.
  • a 'processing' phase where thinking and learning take place.

There is neither a right nor a wrong way of reflective thinking, there are just questions to explore.

Figure 1 shows that the reflective thinking process starts with you. Before you can begin to assess the words and ideas of others, you need to pause and identify and examine your own thoughts.

Doing this involves revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring. It also involves considering how and why you think the way you do. The examination of your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions forms the foundation of your understanding. 

Reflective thinking demands that you recognise that you bring valuable knowledge to every experience. It helps you therefore to recognise and clarify the important connections between what you already know and what you are learning. It is a way of helping you to become an active, aware and critical learner.

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing is:.

  • documenting your response to experiences, opinions, events or new information
  • communicating your response to thoughts and feelings
  • a way of exploring your learning
  • an opportunity to gain self-knowledge
  • a way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning
  • a chance to develop and reinforce writing skills
  • a way of making meaning out of what you study

Reflective writing is not:

  • just conveying information, instruction or argument
  • pure description, though there may be descriptive elements
  • straightforward decision or judgement, e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad
  • simple problem-solving
  • a summary of course notes
  • a standard university essay.

See next: How do I write reflectively?

Essay and assignment writing guide.

  • Essay writing basics
  • Essay and assignment planning
  • Answering assignment questions
  • Editing checklist
  • Writing a critical review
  • Annotated bibliography
  • How do I write reflectively?
  • Examples of reflective writing
  • ^ More support

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Forms of writing

  • Essay writing
  • Report writing

Reflective writing

  • Writing for business contexts
  • Writing a memorandum
  • Email etiquette
  • Producing Word documents and GoogleDocs
We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience. John Dewey
  • Recalling and describing   the experience  you engaged with (e.g., a reading, a project you worked on individually or with a group, a theoretical concept, or a business practice).
  • Analysing and interpreting   the experience  in relation to your personal perspective and other perspectives (sometimes with reference to a model or theory from your course).
  • Thinking about the implications  for practice and for your learning, and what you would or could do differently.

Characteristics of reflective writing

Is more personal and informal

  • Often reflective pieces are written in the first person (e.g., ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘me’, and ‘us’).
  • Example:  “There are a couple of ways I can improve to contribute to my group positively . . .” 

Coherently brings together three main elements

  • These are the experiences you engaged with, your personal thoughts and feelings, as well as the implications for your learning and next steps   (see the example above).

Often requires movement between past and present tenses

  • Use the past tense when referring to the experience or project you worked on and the present tense when making general statements or linking to a theoretical concept.
  • Example (past tense): “As a team, we were  excited about the prospect of pursuing our own business strategies to see if they would pan out. One thing the authors  suggested was  . . .”
  • Example (present tense):   “This week’s reading was  interesting. It  presents  key questions beyond the life of University. It asks how I  can be  happy in my career?”

Reflective writing example

You might follow this example to structure a reflective writing assignment.

Recalling and describing the experience:

What happened and how you felt about it?

Example: “This week in class, we talked about team formation and how to manage a team well, including dealing with free riders and slackers. One thing mentioned was that if a member of the team was not performing as well (in terms of doing their share of work), then the rest of the team should tell them about it and give them a chance instead of just giving them a low score and/or failing them.”

Analysing and interpreting the experience:

What was new/different?

How it relates to other personal experiences or theories?

Example: “I did have some problems with free riders in my previous team experiences. Thinking back, I realised that we did not tell the member who was free riding that we felt they were not doing their share of the work. It would have been beneficial to the rest of the team and to that particular team member if we had.”

Thinking about implications:

What was learnt?

What will be done differently?

Example: “As I am doing the group leader role, should any problems arise with free riders or conflicts within the team, I feel that it should be my job to sort it out and not let it escalate. One solution to the free rider problem would be to assign tasks to each member or have the team agree on which tasks they will take on. In this way, everyone will have to do something to contribute to the team.”

Helpful vocabulary

The Australian Library and Information Association has produced a reflective practice writing guide to aid vocabulary use.

Here is an example:

Helpful tips

  • Follow the lecturer’s instructions which may include a rubric that lists the assessment criteria or a recommended structure
  • Make the link between the experience, yourself, and theory (if required) explicit and meaningful
  • Make your reaction to the experience stand out more than the description of the actual experience
  • Be genuine and honest in your reflections and do not just write what you think the lecturer wants to hear
  • Write your first or second draft of your reflective assignment early so you can leave it for a few days and then revisit it for final edits before submission

Further information

  • Press the Printer Friendly button at the bottom left-hand corner to download a printable handout
  • Birmingham University has produced this brief  reflective writing guide 
  • Watch this reflective writing video by The University of South Australia

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