reflective writing assignment

reflective writing assignment

The Importance of Reflective Writing

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1. Introduction

The aim of this paper is to promote the use of informed reflective practice in the training of educators, with a particular focus on analyzing an account of a critical incident provided by a student teacher and identifying the learning which resulted. To this end, the paper will: (a) Discuss the rationale for adopting a particular stance towards the practice of reflection. (b) Briefly indicate how the concept of reflection has been assimilated into teacher training programs and identify some trends in the ways in which it is promoted and supported. (c) Consider the effectiveness of different models and strategies for promoting reflection. (d) Present a set of criteria which can be used to assess the quality of a piece of reflective writing. (e) Provide an example of reflective dialogue between a university tutor and a student teacher, contrasting an ineffective and a more effective approach to exploring a critical incident. (f) Apply a general model of the process of defining and resolving discrepancies in understanding, derived from analysis of the work of clinical psychologists, to analysis of the learning arising from specific incidents. (g) Compare reflection to more formalized concepts of research and consider its relationship to the improvement of educational practice and the professional development of teachers.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

Self-awareness is essentially the mental image an individual has of themselves. This is the catalyst for their view of the world and it greatly influences their judgment towards tasks they want to undertake. By writing reflectively, this mental picture can be expressed on paper, allowing both the individual and a facilitator to evaluate it. Schon, a pioneer of reflection, identified that an individual has intuitions about themselves and the situation they are entering (e.g., a student might feel an assignment is too hard). These intuitions influence the next stage in the reflection process, which is to reflect on the merits and validity of their intuitions. It is highly beneficial for an individual to evaluate their intuitions and how they have changed throughout the situation. Often, when a person has an intuitive feeling, they tend to stick with it throughout the entire task, although actual requirements may have changed. This can lead to frustration and difficulty in the task; it may result in students giving up. By reflecting on how intuition has affected the situation and changed, the individual can re-evaluate the way they approached it, thus promoting learning from the situation and improved performance in similar tasks in the future.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

From analyzing the questionnaire feedback there are several ways in which an ESOL student would benefit from doing your reflective writing.

A useful idea to consider is to identify your learning style. The following link provides a questionnaire to identify your learning style and you will be given an explanation of the implications of your learning style for your work. This information could be very useful in future and it may be beneficial to note down the results of your questionnaire and any thoughts you have fluxed from it under Stage 4 and 5.

The following offers a framework for guiding and developing your writing skills using reflective learning. It suggests that you become systematic in reviewing an experience to gain a deeper understanding of it. It is based on a talk by Graham Gibbs to the assessment staff at the University of Derby, 2nd May 1988, and is intended to give more guidance on the use of his reflective learning cycle; see Learning by Doing, 1988. Gibbs’ suggestions are often cited as the basis for the reflective activity. However you do it, make sure you are thorough; the better your preparation the more effortless your writing will be and the better it will come out. Under the title of each stage of the cycle note down your thoughts and experiences.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

In a study conducted by Wong and Kember (2001), they found that students who were instructed to reflect on their learning showed greater understanding of procedural knowledge which they had obtained during their clinical placements. This was due to the fact that by reflecting on the clinical experiences, it helped students to see the clinical situation in a different way which intern led to changes in their conceptual understanding. They were able to develop a deeper level of understanding when they went back to the clinical situation and attempted to change it, and see if the outcome was different. This type of reflection is a tool of Schon’s model of reflection on and in practice (Schon, 1987). It involves thinking about a situation, and after the event has occurred, go back and think about a different approach to change the outcome. By doing this and have this greater understanding, the nursing students are more prepared to face similar clinical situations when they are qualified.

The use of critical reflection in nursing practice can have a positive impact both on the professional and personal level. One of the greatest benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner is the ability to further your professional development and to bridge the gap between theory and practice (Schutz, 2007). This is supported by Baldwin (2000) who suggests that by developing reflective practice, nursing students will be able to use the knowledge they have learned in the classroom to help them understand clinical situations and make rational choices concerning appropriate action.

5. Conclusion

The most important aspect of reflective writing is that it is about your feelings, your view, and your perspective. This is what makes it effective. When you reflect on a topic, even on a specific event, you have to dig deep to understand how your feelings have changed, or how it has reinforced the way you already feel. This might not be an easy thing to define, and it might take time, and that’s fine. Reflective writing is not a race, and simply putting words on the paper does not mean you have accomplished what the exercise requires. One of the best ways to understand how to analyse an event is to watch someone else do it. The two video clips based on the Grolsch beer commercial, both show a different perspective of the same event. When you watch these video clips, just take note of what the characters are thinking and how they feel about the specific events that are unfolding before them. Try to understand what has caused the differences in their views and how events have managed to change how they feel. This is an ideal example of a reflective activity. Writing a diary, or simply jotting down your thoughts is another way to effectively capture events and your thoughts at a point in time. It also serves as a means of going back to the event and understanding how you felt at the time, or how your views have changed.

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