how to write reflective writing

how to write reflective writing

How to Write Reflective Writing

1. Introduction

As mentioned earlier, reflective writing is a response to a past experience. With it, you can better understand that experience. It is still a form of academic writing, in that it requires an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This simple yet complex definition can be understood when you consider two things. First, reflective writing is to be considered a process that such forms as an essay or a report have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. This is not to say that it is a linear process, as often it is necessary to consult secondary resources during the early stages of a study, and to refine the methods and the research question in light of these sources. However, the snapshot of the process is clear, and this snapshot, if successful, should invoke in the reader an image that is not much different from the experience itself. Second, the reflection is what is to be considered the final product. All academic writing has a certain goal or final product.

2. Understanding Reflective Writing

Those known choices arose from the experience and changed who you are. It is the opportunity to reflect on these choices, acknowledge your feelings, and thus determine whether you truly felt it was positive or negative. Reflective writing has an internal connection; perhaps for a reflection on an assignment, exam, or period in your life and how those surrounding experiences have helped you navigate specific situations. It is the difference between evaluating an experience and fully understanding it.

It is essential that you have a genuine appreciation of what reflective writing is. Many students have completed a quick assessment experience. In order to make their report clear and understandable, they have made an assessment of their experience using a descriptor “I thought it was incredible.” Yet, they fail to explain why it was extraordinary. Reflective writing gives you the opportunity to explore those vague thoughts and undefined experiences (assumptions) that are floating on the edges of your awareness.

It is the process of considering your own particular experiences and interpreting what they mean to you. Reflective writing is not simply describing what happened, nor is it a transcript of your diary. Events move from jar to tree, and thinking reflects that development. In writing, analysis moves from the descriptive to the uncertain. Reflective writing digs deep into the subject at hand. You must examine insightfully and explain the change in the process. Noteworthy reflection requires careful execution and structure, especially addressing multiple issues within one experience. Control, in addition, is the key to a productive piece. A common misconception is that reflective writing only involves expressing feelings and opinions; however, in writing “reflectively,” you need to demonstrate your understanding of an experience.

3. Steps to Write Reflective Writing

Now that you have completed the mentioned analysis, prepare a summary with a description of the situation, event, experience, or change. This description can form the basis of your reflective piece of writing and will help you move from one experience to the next.

Conclusion: a. What else could I have done? b. If it arose again, what would I do?

Analysis: a. What sense can I make of this experience? b. What was good/bad about the experience? c. What sense can I make of the situation? A. What was I trying to achieve? B. What are the alternative ways of explaining the situation?

Feelings: a. What were my feelings at the time? b. What were the consequences of this event?

Choose an event/experience and consider it in depth. Use the following activities to help you do this – make sure you get into the action or activity itself and note down in detail specific things about what happened and what feelings you had both at the time and later.

4. Tips for Effective Reflective Writing

The final thing which will be discussed here is Gibb’s reflective cycle. This is a structured model which runs through six stages: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and action plan. A brief discussion will now follow of each of the six stages. Gibb’s cycle can be very helpful when it comes to a specific essay. If you are writing a reflective essay for a project or module, there will be general set criteria which in this case will be followed with the question. This will then allow you to bring together all of what you have learned both in the criteria and the module and help to avoid confusion when writing like discussing too many different learning points. This can be a frequent problem with reflective writing. Gibb’s cycle will steer your writing in the right direction with a prompt of each stage at which you should be asking the necessary questions to ensure you have covered everything which is described below.

Try to include a few points on why and how your attitudes and behaviors have been changed. This is demonstrating evidence of your reflective skills. When evidence of reflective skills is assessed it may be achieved through assignment marks or through other methods such as the St George’s Reflective Ability Scale (StGRAS) or the use of a Reflective Diary. As was mentioned before the aim of reflective work is to demonstrate learning. By assessing reflective assignments tutors can judge how well you have learnt in a particular module. Consider the word evidence again. This is what is required to show that work is truly reflective. It is not enough to simply state “I have developed fantastic reflective skills as a result of undertaking this module.” You need to provide the evidence of how you have achieved this. This takes a great deal of self-awareness and critical evaluation. This leads us nicely onto the next point. Reflective writing is more formal and structured than the regular journal. Step-by-step explaining means you are going to write an account of the event or an experience with the view of teaching others what went wrong and what.

Below are some generic tips for writing effective reflective work. Think about what you have learned and how you might improve. Do you think these were the right goals? What did you learn in the process of achieving these goals? Think about the structure of your writing. Often you will be asked to create a formal piece of reflective writing (such as a dossier or presentation) which is written in the first person. You will need to create a piece of writing that demonstrates your understanding of a particular topic and this will help to build your self-awareness and reflective skills. These pointers will also be helpful when writing the reflective component for other types of assignment.

5. Conclusion

Reflective writing is an important activity that assists with developing critical thinking skills, generating conceptual change, and gaining additional knowledge of concepts. The assignment has helped me to reflect on the microskills which I feel are important for the counselor to be able to use effectively and how I can learn and acquire them. It has been important in identifying particular goals I would like to set for myself before and during the practice of these microskills. The assignment has also helped me to develop a better understanding of why I am comfortable with some clients and why I’m not comfortable with others. I have succeeded in identifying the type of person or particular presenting problems that make me feel uncomfortable and ways in which I can work to change this. In saying this, I have learned that there are some clients I will struggle to be effective with, and it may be better for me to refer them to another counselor. Completing this piece of writing and studying the microskills has confirmed for me that training to be a counselor is what I would like to do and feel that it is the right career pathway for me. This confirmation is important for setting goals to continue learning and developing these skills over the next few years. Lastly, it has been valuable to get feedback from a friend who was my ‘client’ during a role-play and to see the similarity in the important points we each identified, even though they were jotted down separately. This has shown me that I can effectively use these skills and grow in confidence that I am doing it the right way. High-quality reflective writing should move beyond just identifying and explaining a situation and towards helping the writer make connections between what has occurred and how it has helped or hindered them in relation to their previous knowledge and ways of doing things. In evaluating this assignment on that criteria, I have been successful in doing so.

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