reflective writing essay examples

reflective writing essay examples

Reflective Writing: Exploring Personal Experiences and Insights

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1. Introduction

Hang in there. Do take a look at extra resources on reflective writing and learning e-portfolios to see examples of different ways to engage in this activity. Reflection is something that happens internally; we can’t force it. If you make a start trying to jot a few ideas down, you may find it not quite as painful as expected.

“What did I do in my summer holidays?” A fate worse than death!

You can have a very good reason for being skeptical about its worth. An activity where you have to write a response to “what did I learn” may throw up déjà vu experiences of torturous school essays:

The purpose of reflective writing is to, if it isn’t too grand to say, meet the meaning of life! Socrates is attributed with these words “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Too often we are going through the motions without really examining why we do what we do. In particular, learning often happens in a whirl of activity and as soon as the task is finished, strange memory decay can take place! Reflective writing makes you take a few more paces down the road of life and really examine your stepping.

Reflective writing is a personal practice, which is, in fact, usually a task to assess a student’s learning. The exercise may cause you to think about your learning differently. This may be the first time you have engaged in such a process or you may be very familiar with it. Whatever the case, this is your opportunity to assess your approach to learning.

2. Understanding Reflective Writing

The principles underlying reflective writing are unchanging, the result of applying a simple, structured approach to development and closeness to personal experiences. A great deal of understanding, by way of a necessary step-by-step exercise, can be gained from looking at the reflective cycle. The clarity and ease of understanding the reflective cycle, armed with its appropriate linking to theory and a range of models, is a common first stop for those engaging in reflective writing. The reflective cycle is based on the notion that reflection is an active process in which an individual views experiences in a focused way with the intention of providing a framework to explore thoughts and feelings. By doing this it is suggested that a greater understanding and new knowledge is gained as a result. This itself is an important commitment to make to personal development, defining understanding and knowledge as desirable, to be strived for objectives. The reflective cycle achieves an increased self-awareness and clarity of context, which is the essential learning that can act as the basis for taking informed decisions, questioning underlying assumptions and choice of reflective strategies, it can be seen as a great foundation for the confident learning and improved practice that writers can drive themselves towards. This learning can only be a positive for those engaging in reflective writing but it is worth acknowledging that the better understanding achieved by unwrapping an experience and its meaning can sometimes be painful. Gibbs (1988) looks at this element of discomfort suggesting that the cyclic process can often lead the reflective writer into the realms of realization and enlightenment, in which newfound clarity brings discomfort with the previous ignorance or naivety. This might suggest that reflective writing can make past experiences feel more real or relevant. This can leave writers feeling a cornucopia of emotions but it is also recognized that it is these emotions and the degree of personal connection with emotions and ideas, that can make the reflective writing experience anything from a worthwhile cathartic exercise to a voyage of discovery and self-realization.

3. Examples of Reflective Writing Essays

The examples of reflective writing essays should give you a good idea of how to write your own essay. The reflective writing essay has no set essay of topics. The purpose of writing such an essay is to provide yourself with a platform to step down and examine your own thoughts and feelings on a given that may have raised a question in your mind. Reflective essay examples will also give you an idea how to properly structure and format your essay. The following example is taken from an introductory module in health sciences. This particular module is a basic research module in health sciences and a certain amount of key words serve as a mini-presentation, which displays my knowledge and understanding of the topic gained in class. Throughout this essay, I will give examples of the methods to make the best of this. A reflective essay is a piece of writing in which an author goes through their personal life experiences to either teach a lesson, to entertain, or to reinforce something taught earlier. Usually the writer will write about specific events, lay out a plan say for teaching a proper topic or discuss a new fresh method.

4. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

When writing reflectively, you will be doing this in an academic essay format. This begs the question of what is the best way to write an academic essay? Using a good structure in your essay is one way to assure success. This can be accomplished by the use of the Academic Skills Kit I have recommended earlier in this chapter. This tool provides a good essay structure method to assure an organized and articulate essay. Applying this to reflective writing is a good idea. Jot down bullet points and use the structure to reflect on each piece of what you will assess before writing the essay. With reflection being an inward or introspective look, it’s good to ask questions about the topic to ensure that the topic is properly understood. Writing these and any thoughts on the topic on a piece of paper will provide an easy link to collect and gather further information at a later stage. Brainstorming is a good way to collect ideas and make note of any learning in or out of the classroom and any changes in opinions. This could be a simple task of a spider diagram inquiring about these questions or making a SWOT or other comparative analysis of the topic. In reflection, evaluation can identify understanding facts, concepts, or theories, which is a starting block of a learning experience. If there are any struggles with the essay, it would be feasible to further this understanding by seeking information at a later date to move towards a new sense of understanding and hopefully an improvement in the topic in future practice.

Being reflective involves thinking about something; thinking about what has happened, looking at the situation and reflecting on it to see what you can learn from the situation. This may lead to action if the situation is similar in the future or it may lead you to decide that it was the right action to take. The act of reflection is a great way to increase confidence and become a more proactive and qualified professional. It is a valuable tool often used in the world of work. In education, the use of the Gibbs reflective cycle has been proven to be greatly successful in developing reflective skills. Reflection is a way of evaluating one’s practice; questioning what you do, why you do it, questioning if it works, and if it is the right way to do it. It is a great way to develop or change your methods to increase your knowledge and skills. This can be beneficially applied to a work setting or new learning experience to critically assess knowledge and employability skills.

5. Conclusion: Harnessing the Power of Reflection

Reflection is something that can only be cultivated and improved. Further, to learn from practice requires a great deal of self-discipline and perseverance. The health professions are no exception to this principle and indeed require even more focus upon reflecting within a conclusive environment. The exercise of writing about one’s professional practice is becoming an expectation, thus the ability to express one’s thoughts and experiences in writing is essential. Through the guidance of Korthagen, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of reflection and the importance of writing reflectively throughout this reflective essay. An understanding of consciousness and structure helped me to make sense of various educational experiences and define general principles for my future teaching. Korthagen’s realistic approach to improve teacher education through action research and core reflection inspired me to learn practical strategies for implementing reflective practice and to continue to develop my understanding and improve my teaching in hope that one day, the use of reflective practice becomes second nature to me.

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