how to reflective writing

how to reflective writing

The Art of Reflective Writing

1. Understanding Reflective Writing

Reflective writing takes a different approach from the pure scientific method and allows the writer to express their own point of view, even if it is less than concrete. Reflective writing takes this a stage further by also asking you to express and analyse in your writing your own position relative to others, comparing your view with alternative perspectives. What you are not doing is departing from the evidence-based stance. Drawing upon evidence in your writing is essential if you are to make your point. You must be able to find, read and use the evidence in evaluating and interpreting your subject. This kind of writing is required to develop strong critical thinking, an essential part of being a lifelong learner. In your assessment and analysis, ensure that you are taking into account the opposing side of the argument, if your subject has such clear distinctions. In order to do this, a pause to the off the cuff answer in your reflection of around 3-5 minutes on any given topic can greatly improve your ability to develop and maintain a clear position. Once the ability to reflect on past events has increased, the writing will follow. This is the practice called learning through experience.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

Developing Emotional Intelligence: Reflection is an emotional experience and as such it can strengthen our emotional intelligence and help us to manage our emotions. Taking time to reflect helps us to approach an event with logic rather than an emotional reaction and this changes the way we act and interact with others in future situations. Understanding an experience can provide closure and healing to those that were negatively affected by it. Reflection can also help us sympathize and understand the feelings of others.

Critical Thinking and Decision Making: Reflection is a time to think all the aspects of an experience or an issue. Often times it will involve creating or reconstructing an event in a logical manner in order to best understand it. Analysis of the event/experience is the important element here. You are prompted to ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and to look deeper into a situation, thus the outcome is often a change in your perspective or a decision on the best course of action. This entire process is conducted within the safety of your own mind and the privacy of your own thoughts. A very important idea or conclusion that you came to can then be tested through its application next time a similar event occurs. Was it the right choice? What would have been a better outcome?

Self-awareness: During your reflective learning process, you will inevitably learn more about yourself. You will become aware of your learning styles and preferences. You will seek out to achieve higher awareness of areas where you are strong and areas where you are weak. You might possibly learn some things about your attitudes, beliefs, and values in the process. You will also focus on the positives as well as the negatives. Becoming aware of and understanding the impact of your experiences can aid you in making positive changes.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

The aim in sight of effective reflective writing is a scholarly review of both the learning practice and the issue under consideration. The structural character usually being a commencement followed by a suspension of events, thoughts, feelings and account of a change, ending with a conclusion. Although the circumstance of reflective writing will differ amongst scholars, there is some common ground covering all reflective writing. Effectual reflective writing shows that the scholar has clear insight of the subject matter, comprehending its cause on their own individual growth, and the gains in understanding with a resultant change. It demonstrates the scholars’ capability to assimilate theory and practice, knowing where new knowledge fits into old. Reflection is considered to be a solitary act, but the aspect of discussion in order to learn is a key indicator to the authenticity of the reflective process. Reflection is part of the process of translating experience into learning, with the eventual complementary components being evidence, research and analysis. In the situation of reflection accompanying a work placement, there is likely to be evidence provided by the student such as diaries or assignments in addition to the reflection.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

He also suggests a method of dialogue writing, in which you are conversing with someone about the things you are reflecting on. This method paves the way for self-criticism. Here, he suggests the teacher takes back the journals mid-semester and writes down comments on the entries made by the students.

The learning journal allows students to reflect on old information, build on new information, unify and try to eliminate the old and new, and integrate the learning with other experiences. This requires them to contemplate and apply critical thinking. This is done by asking and answering questions in the journal, thinking about what was learned, and making links to it. The clearer the link between past and future learning, the better.

Shot over a four-month period, the learning journal is an ongoing personal record of the student’s reflections on the learning process, events, and personal change. It was created by Martha Ko and B. Rose. He further describes the learning journal as an anthropological account in narrative form, a diary of the learner’s experience. It is different from a diary because it focuses on the practice of learning and knowing. This allows the student to keep a chronological record of their development over a given time.

5. Tips for Improving Reflective Writing Skills

To improve your reflective writing skills, you can keep a reflective diary or journal. Consistent writing is important. The more you practice, the easier it will be to reflect, and you may find the process becomes almost automatic. As in all reflective writing, you should still focus on reflection and learning rather than just recounting what has happened. See Reflective Writing for advice on writing reflectively. Being organized will help you to learn from your experience. To do this, you will need to become adept at note-taking. It is always a good idea to make notes as you go along, particularly if you are using primary research methods. These notes can be used as a basis for your reflection later. As with any written assignment, you could benefit from drafting and redrafting the content. It is often a mistake to rely on writing the draft of your reflective piece and then hoping to magically get it right the first time around. Writing a good essay is difficult and takes time, so does writing a good reflective piece. A successful reflective piece will be relatively short because it is a personal account. A typical piece of reflective writing will involve 300-900 words. If you are reflecting on a written text, you might want to jot down some thoughts in a book, and APA is not required for this. Finally, you may find when you’re reflecting on your experience that it is useful to obtain feedback from others, or you may have insight into someone else’s experience from a different perspective. This can be very insightful and lead to a deeper understanding of the topic.

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