reflective writing example

reflective writing example

Importance of Reflective Writing

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1. Definition and Purpose of Reflective Writing

A reflective task may allow you to use different modes of writing and language. Reflective writing may be an informal narrative piece of writing that students can share in pairs, or a summary of course notes in order to help the author better understand the material and find pattern and meaning in what you have studied. Reflective writing can also be analytical when applied to critical thinking or processing work or research with an aim of making the learning explicit. Thought on upcoming events in preparation for a piece of academic writing can also be formal. Reflection can also be a collaborative activity when used to compare understanding between student and teacher.

Reflective writing is evidence of reflective thinking. In an academic context, reflective thinking usually involves looking back at something (often an event, i.e. something that happened, but it could also be an idea or object), analysing the event or idea (thinking in depth and from different perspectives, and trying to explain, often with reference to a model or theory from your unit), and thinking carefully about what the event or idea means for you and your ongoing progress as a learner (hence the term ‘reflective’). Reflections, based on reading or on a clinical event, are often presented as a completed piece of writing.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

B. Greater self-awareness The first step to better understand the self is to identify what is happening and why. Reflective writing can help you improve your analytical skills because it requires you to express what you think, and it helps you develop a deeper understanding of complex situations. This kind of writing helps you explore all areas of your life and make positive changes that will benefit you personally and professionally.

A. Clearance Reflective writing can help you clear your mind when thinking about an experience and make positive steps towards analyzing that experience. It will enable you to ‘stand back’ and take a look at what has happened and why from a fresh viewpoint. This kind of writing can help you learn how to find your voice, meaning your thoughts and feelings, on what you have learned and how you can apply that.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

First, though, let’s consider why reflective writing is important in the first place. It is often used to mark the end of something: an event, project or experience. The author would look back at what has happened and consider the positives and negatives of what they have learnt. This can help with the application of knowledge and theory learned in the classroom to practice done in the outside world. So, being able to write reflectively can have wider implications for work, for example reflection can be used to help a student further develop transferable skills. These skills are something that employers look for, and usually will help with decision making within an organisation. If a person is able to reflect effectively, they can work out a plan for the future based on it. Reflective writing can also help a person to discover more about themselves, and think about the kind of person they are. Many people work through certain events by talking about them, and reflecting on them afterwards. Writing can be used as a mediator to help with this, and the learnings/understandings can be quite deep if the person is able to analyse their thoughts and feelings properly.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

In the first reflective piece, a student discusses the importance of lecture notes to idiographic case conceptualisation. The student focuses in depth on the pros and cons of typed vs. handwritten notes. They evaluate what type of notes aid memory and specific types of learning taking place in different types of lectures. The student adds their personal preference and reflects on how notes will be useful in the future. This reflective piece is very thorough, the student has clearly put in a lot of thought and research into the topic. Although they are only required to evaluate their opinion using evidence, the student goes beyond this to critique what is the most useful action for themselves and other students in this area. Another student reflects on their experience with collaborative assessment in a third year psychology class. The student begins by recognising that in the past they have always completed assessments individually and usually at the last minute. Initial personal thoughts on the task were negative, labelling it as extra work with no added benefit. The student goes on to describe being pleasantly surprised with the assessment after finding out they would be working with a ‘very talented’ classmate, to create a wiki page applying psychological theory/concepts to case studies. The student talks highly of the process and the benefit of working with someone else who was so genuine and committed. Unfortunately, the positive reflection is not fully justified with evidence. Overall these examples give a good representation of the varying experiences and depth that students go into throughout the self-reflective process.

5. Conclusion: Embracing Reflective Writing for Personal Growth

Reflective writing has a profound impact on the learning process as an individual. For a start, the process of reflecting on what we have learnt can lead to a better understanding of the subject matter. This, in turn, can lead to an increased awareness of how we learn. By aware, I mean having an understanding of the processes used for learning and being able to identify which methods of learning are good for us and which are not. It is widely agreed among educationalists that if a student gains an awareness of how he learns, then he is more likely to change or modify the ways he goes about learning a task and, in turn, it will increase the chances of successful completion. Perhaps the most profound impact will be a change to the learner’s conceptual structures and the construction and reconstruction of knowledge. When we reflect on what we have learnt, we are, in effect, constructing links between the new information and our previous knowledge. We are asking ourselves how this new information affects our previous knowledge and asking whether this new information gives us a new perspective on things. At this point, there is a process of questioning the new information and a search for answers. If successful, this can lead to a change in ways of thinking and possibly a change in personal beliefs.

The importance of reflective writing for personal growth and development is more evident now than ever in an age where an abundance of information and that which is relevant to us is hard to come by. In an environment where one has information on anything and everything at the touch of a button, it is easy to see why an activity that encourages personal thought and judgement is important. Reflective writing assesses this and is an activity that is becoming increasingly common in higher education. In today’s busy world it is becoming harder to find time to slow down and one of the first things to suffer will be our attention to our own thoughts and feelings. Reflective writing creates a routine, in fact it demands a routine of spending time to work on a particular cognitive activity. Through repeated practice and an embedding of reflective thinking into a routine, one will inevitably become more adept at it and it will become an internalized mental process.

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