reflective writing essay

reflective writing essay

The Importance of Reflective Writing in Personal Growth

1. Introduction

Through reflective writing we may discover an inner change, a personal growth, and a development of values, and emotional intelligence. It is a subtle form of self-awareness and a way to unravel new understandings. This essay is a chapter in “Techniques and Resources in Teaching College,” edited by Ann Ruggiero. In this essay Carole, a community college ESL instructor discusses the importance of reflective writing from the learning perspective. My interpretation of the essay is that reflective writing is a learning process. Carole is focused on how to assist student learning as the reflective writing is the tool which teachers and students alike can use to review and reflect upon an experience with the aim of learning from that experience. Carole suggests this method is a powerful instrument for teachers in providing a means for students to learn from their experiences, from service and civic engagement, internships, and more. Carole states that the reflection is not an ‘add-on’ but a ‘vital phase in the learning process’ (Ruggiero, 2006, p.169) and that teachers using reflection are helping students to ‘make connections between experience and knowledge’ (Ruggiero, 2006, p.167). This is true for any kind of learning and particularly resonates with my experience and looking for ways to teach new players from football. Carole goes on to discuss the four levels of reflective writing and how each level encapsulates deeper understanding and learning.

Do you ever stop to wonder “What is ‘important’ in life?” or “What do I really want?” We usually brush these important questions off, with the thought that we will have time to catch up on these in our later years. The truth is, personal growth and development is a never-ending journey. It is the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual effort to become the best person you can be. The idea of personal growth is an important one. It is the sole reason for living; without growth there is no life. However, the concept of personal growth is often easier said than done. We go through many different experiences in our lifetime, and some are easier to learn from than others. Reflective writing is an active process that enables the writer to examine an experience and how it has affected their life, as well as explore what they could have done differently and how.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

Develops critical thinking, leading to skills in analysis and evaluation. Raises self-awareness. Facilitates learning about new things. Helps find solutions to problems. Encourages searching for alternative options. Develops a positive attitude and sense of self by fostering a capacity for emotional self-regulation. Encouraging a focus on personal growth. Fostering a positive orientation to the future by creating and strengthening the neurological pathways associated with an increase in self-regard, thereby increasing the likelihood of events of a positive nature. Stores and retrieves relevant information useful in problem solving through the use of past experiences and attainment of knowledge. Aids in the development of reflective judgement, the making of decisions on the basis of well reasoned judgement which entails the review of evidence and the considering of alternative explanations prior to reaching a decision. Reflective judgement is considered important to effective problem solving and decision making.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

To dig deeper, bring to consciousness an experience which you have not thought about in quite some time. This may be something that happened recently or a more distant event. As you remember more details of the experience, describe what happened and how you felt at the time. What do you think about that event now? What influence has it had on the way you think or feel? How is that experience related to what you have learned in the past? How would you react if faced with that situation again? How might you deal with it differently? Now, consider how this event may be similar or different with the passage of time and what have been the most important changes. These questions focused on reflection of an experience can bring past memories to new light and better understanding. You may at times find that reflection on an experience which has not been resolved may be disconcerting and reveal feelings which you were not aware of. With your past experience at various jobs, consider the work situation itself and an event which was typical of that job. This can give new focus and insight on your professional development.

Be sure to choose the topic in such a way that the reader will find it convenient to picture any incident, object, person, or place about which he is talking. Write all the first impressions of what you observed. These will become the springboard for further thought and many of these first ideas will be the ones that trigger long buried memories which you will explore later. Be sure to express reactions to those first impressions as well. The writing is the trigger to reflection. Now go back and review the memories and jot down a few notes about significant memories from each, one memory triggering another.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

This initial test was my first attempt at the SR differential. I was glad to get our tasks this early on in the semester, but I guess I was feeling it maybe I was rushing that morning to get them marked and posted. We did actually discuss the importance of getting these marked and posted to the students. I had said I would be checking everyday and I did do this from the Monday (11/02/08). I did not see the marked assignments up until the following Wednesday (20/02/08). I was quite dismayed by this amount of time suggesting that since the tutor was also very busy there was just no possible time for him to mark them. This situation took about a week and the assignment was quite a simple one to upload so I am guessing this difficulty was anticipated. We next talked about this SR writing process. I mentioned how I felt that I would need to demonstrate this to students as they would not understand the concept of marking assignments using this method rather than on hard copy. All that was really discussed in the transcription and concluded that I could do this. This was a long nested discussion taking about two weeks. A few days later a tutor reflected on the assignment suggesting he could make some campaign notes for his students to mark using SR writing. I thought these could be compared with some of my own for the same assignment. This has yet to be done but I keep this in my mind to be my next task. This is all I have to write about the current topic so I might leave and come back another time to write further. This is the end of my first SR writing.

5. Conclusion

Reflective writing can be a life-changing experience, and this is something that students must be encouraged to practice and teachers should try to teach. This is an important learning process for students because they can learn so much about themselves from the writing and the way the writing is assessed. In today’s society, we need reflection more than ever; the fast pace of life and work, which is of a mobile nature. Work, which does not stop at 5 o’clock or at the weekend, requires it. We want to hire people in the workforce who are able to think for themselves and to do this, they need to be on a lifelong path of self-development allowing themselves to make positive changes. Reflection is a very positive tool to achieve this, allowing a person to look back at past experiences, analyze their actions and learn from them, applying the knowledge they have learned to their decisions in the future. Reflection can enable us to develop a range of learning strategies which can be used to engage the different areas of our intelligent mind. By reflecting we are able to make sense of the information and understanding, when it is turned into knowledge. This becomes a powerful tool for future reference. Reflection can be done in a variety of different ways, it can be done on paper or in one’s head and it can also be a verbal thing with a friend. The reflective writing that this paper is based around, which is a recommended method for students to progress with practice of reflection, is described by Moon (1999) who states that a single written word is more powerful than 10 words that are written and forgotten.

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