definition of reflective writing

definition of reflective writing

The Importance of Reflective Writing

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1. Understanding Reflective Writing

What is reflective writing? Writing, especially in engineering, must be based on clear logic, organization, and evidence. The transition to university learning, often involving problem solving, research and critical reading, can be a great departure from the type of writing experienced by students in high school. Throughout the course of study, students begin to experience a greater depth of learning that involves theory and its application to practice. It is therefore understandable that they may be unfamiliar with types of informal writing that aid the learning process. One method that has increasingly become the topic of discussion is that of reflective writing. Reflective writing, in its most basic form, serves to help writers capture an encounter or experience and its impacts on them, in a more abstract way. Analysis of a particular experience, with consideration of its consequences, allows the writer to learn in and through the experience, as opposed to simply recalling it at a later date. With higher learning becoming collaborative, and involving online discussion and group work, the idea of personal learning is one that should be valued, and reflective writing can form the beginning. As an addition to informal learning, such as an internship or work experience, reflective writing can transfer developed skills and experience into knowledge. This process of capturing information and translating it is not only a valuable skill in itself, but it can also aid the efficiency of learning.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

As earlier said, it’s about learning from writing; the key enabler to make that possible is through reflection. Reflection is defined as a calm, lengthy, intent consideration. It retrieves the learning experience and evaluates the original learning process and measures them with the ultimate or targeted goal. Reflection tries to gain a solution effective or not so effective learning process. Reflection can be more descriptive and can be comparative with the other experiences. Reflection closes the link between the identifiable learning outcomes about the event and the unidentifiable aspects, i.e. what one can learn from what happened. Reflection is a creative process and is not only about a logical-based thinking and/or problem solving. High order complex and deep thinking can make a reflection a clear reflective activity. In effective reflection, learners will use complex concepts, i.e. rather than just identifying the experience, they may look at the same experience but using different words. Attention to feelings is also important. It is not enough to just know or analyze what happened, you should try to see how I can feel or how the other person was feeling at the time and also later on. Feelings can provide a good motivation to creatively try to change an unsatisfactory learning event. It is a better chance that a strong reflection is sure to invite a change in the perspective of the person who may be very discomforting, but it can break all the old learning habits and may build a new effective learning strategy. Reflection has its own four benchmarks. They are descriptive phase, descriptive with emotion and perception, gap identification, and way forward plan. High-end reflection will follow this phase with fix an act, to recall the original event and measure the changes that happened with subsequent similar experiences.

Reflective writing, a literary means through which a writer can get an opportunity to express his own experiences in combination with the learning outcomes and process. A reflective writing bridges the gap between the learning process and the learning. It is more a type of personal way to learn and that too in a more effective manner. It is a process to keep an angle along the learning process and to evaluate all the critical issues met during the learning process. It is like a mirror through which one can see the reflection of him. In the same way, this reflection will help to analyze and evaluate the learning process and influenced learning experiences. It becomes a learning tool that, in the end, an individual will use on a regular basis. Further, it becomes a part of one’s own personal and professional development. Reflective writing is a way to not write but to learn from the writings.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

There are a few techniques for effective reflective writing. For example, you might be asked to keep a reflective journal during a practicum or professional placement. You may need to analyse the theory and practice of your discipline from an experiential base. With reflective writing, however, you are less likely to be concerned with a linear structure. This means you should feel free to write in any form. Although the content of a reflective piece of writing will largely be based on your own experiences, you could be asked to relate your experiences to specific theoretical learning.

Reflective writing provides an opportunity for you to gain further insights from your work through deeper reflection on your experiences, and through further consideration of other perspectives from people and theory. This can lead to a deeper understanding of the task or issue. The act of reflection is often characterised by the exploration and explanation of an event, for example by breaking the event down into parts, considering options, and weighing up outcomes. A reflection, an exploration of a problem, is therefore typically a reasoned and thoughtful piece.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

The following example comes from a clinical placement where a short written communication helped the individual student to develop their caregiving and empathic skills. The piece of writing shown below follows the Gibbs Model of reflection and doesn’t show the author’s thoughts and feelings present at the time of caring for the patient, as the model suggests to include. The reason the author chose this particular incident to reflect upon was because the patient encountered a highly misogynous verbal attack on the student’s college choice to become a nurse, i.e. a “women’s job”. The following reflection describes the nurse’s use of non-verbal communication that would send empathic and caring messages to the patient (Egan, 2002). The author of this piece is a 21-year-old male sociology student. Due to confidentiality, the patient discussed will be referred to as Miss S Smith. Following the incident, the author immediately recorded the events in the form of a factual account; these were jotted down while they were still fresh in the student’s mind. This is an effective technique as the accuracy of the event is kept, but the exact thoughts and feelings of the writer at the time would have been lost without a reflective account.

5. Conclusion: Embracing Reflective Writing for Personal Growth

Coming back through this work at a later date will allow errors to be spotted and resolved, thus improving the overall quality of writing. Any work that can change the way we think and feel has the potential to produce learning. By pin-pointing the learning from an experience, we can produce new learning, and develop a lasting change in our thought processes.

The process of writing can help us to develop our understanding of how we feel or think about a topic, and can serve to generate changes in these areas. Unlike other forms of writing, during the writing process let grammar take a backseat and focus on getting your ideas down on paper. This will help create flow within your writing as your thoughts are all fresh in your mind.

Reflective writing is a way of processing your practice-based experience to produce learning. It has two key features: 1) It integrates theory and practice; 2) It involves a particular focus on the emotions, attitudes, and beliefs involved in the learning process. This sets it apart from other forms of writing and is what makes it so valuable.

Reflective writing can be a difficult task at times, and yet it is an essential part of learning and developing. Embracing the concept and understanding its many facets can lead to a much improved skill set and a swathe of personal benefits.

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