reflective writing prompt

reflective writing prompt

The Importance of Reflective Writing

1. Introduction

On first look, a reflective essay may appear to be the easiest assignment in the world to complete. A difficulty arises with the process of compiling everything you have learnt from your experience and compose it into a sequence which can be easily understood by someone else. A client might be searching for ways to communicate effectively, a student will have to develop a more advanced theoretical basis to his practice or a more experienced practitioner may be searching for an intuitive understanding to his recent experiences. In all cases, what it really comes down to is the change in thinking that has occurred and what the client/student actually understands. This progression of learning is an area which can move in and out of the realms of understanding for the practitioner and is often a layered concept which will continue to reveal itself (Bolton, 2005). The objective of this essay is to provide a concise understanding on reflective writing, particularly in the area of health and social care. It is a recognised fact that the ability to reflect on one’s own practice is one of the most important aspects of service and self-improvement. This is mainly because it is an essential component to learning and understanding in health and social care, in order to verify if methods being used are in the best interest of those being cared for. Dewey (1933) repudiated the traditional view of learning being a process of transmission. He believed that learning is active and if learning is to be significant it must involve problem solving and ‘application of principles to the solution of life’s problems’. This got considerably close to modern views of health and social care practice where the best possible methods are being sought after to improve life quality of service users and their circumstances often very complex problems (Abbott, et al, 1997). It is important to learn through our practice in order to provide the best service available. Reflection brings with it new perspectives to old problems and can cause a ‘new learning’ while reinforcing learning which as already taken place (Oelofsen, 1998). This is vital to those studying health and social care and will also aid educators who are attempting to instill reflection as a tool for learning to their students.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

Taking time to reflect on any work is much more than just thinking about what happened or how a student performed. It is about taking the time to consider what was learned, how this was learned, and then using this information to improve performance. This is beneficial in all areas of study from humanities to science. Reflection is an important part of reflective learning and developing metacognition. This is an important and transferable skill which can help in many areas of study and in day-to-day life. Reflection can be a tool to enable learners to meet the personal and professional challenges and get the maximum output from it. In today’s changing and fast-paced environment, graduates are required in good amount to deal with uncertainty, learn independently, adapt to changing conditions, and solve complex problems. This reflection helps in meeting these needs. Studies have shown that metacognition can be an important factor for effective learning and that fostering metacognitive approaches can enhance deeper learning. Where reflective writing is concerned, there is always some form of learning or teaching purpose. Given this assumption, reflective writing is aimed at helping people learn from an experience to have a better understanding of the task or subject they are undertaking. It can facilitate further practical applications of the learning to take place and it can assist a person in seeing how a task relates to other tasks in order to apply some general knowledge in a new domain. With reflective writing, there is an expectation of progression. Ideally, a person who is writing reflectively will be moving forward in understanding and/or skill by the time their task is completed. This is an ongoing process which the reflective writer can develop over time, particularly using reflection on feedback on later tasks.

3. Techniques for Effective Reflective Writing

Approach all topics from an objective standpoint. This means being impartial and not overly self-critical. Considering all aspects of a situation, event or theory, weighing the positive and negative aspects is key. Adopting a positive mental attitude in your approach to writing will be most beneficial. This will help you not to judge yourself too harshly. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of writing a personal diary. Personal diaries are often used to relieve tension and have a moan. Although this is good for releasing tension, this is not the kind of writing we are discussing, as it has no bearing on reflective writing. Make connections between your experiences and beliefs. Thinking about what you are doing and why is a vital step towards self-understanding. There are a number of ways to make these connections. One could be using ’cause and effect’ reasoning. For example, how did I arrive at this self-imposed conclusion? What made me think this? Is this a good or bad thing? Could I have arrived at a better conclusion? Another good way to make connections is asking whether or not you followed your own beliefs during the experience and if not, why. Did you act out of habit? Peer pressure? Monetary considerations? Why was there a difference in the way you acted?

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

At first look, the lecture seemed to have something to do with communicating without using any words, but it was nowhere related to my idea of what nonverbal communication is. It was quite complicated with all the terminology that I had to look into to get a better understanding of the topic. But I’ve learned something from the lecture, and that is proxemics. It’s the use of personal space in communication, whether with an intimate person or strangers. Although I found it somewhat relatable to our daily life, the example provided with the diagrams of how each individual distances themselves from each other is classified, is still quite hard for a visualizer like me to understand without focusing hard on it. All in all, it was quite enlightening for a first impression of the topic. The tutor seems to be an expert in this field because the way she explained how the lecture relates to the assignment and examination can really give a good guide to us students to truly understand what she wants. The tutor during the lecture also mentioned the influence of culture towards nonverbal communication. This gave me an urge to seek some truth in what she was talking about, and thus I went through some articles on nonverbal communication in my future readings.

Tuesday 11 January 2005 (lecture) Topic: Nonverbal Communication

5. Conclusion

There are a couple of things I could or would say at this point. The first is to re-emphasize my conviction that the actual process of writing is more important than the product. How students write is more important than how much they write or even what they write. Assessment practices too frequently ignore the actual process of writing and reward writing quantity rather than quality. Second, is the plea to teachers to consider using reflection in and on their own practice. Reflective teaching is the process of internally examining and exploring an issue of concern triggered by an experience which creates and clarifies meaning in terms of self, and which results in a changed conceptual perspective. This invariably leads to a change in behavior, if only a change in pursuing a particular line of classroom inquiry. Reflective teaching in turn affects student learning (I can find no evidence of students learning to reflect on their own practice without their teachers being reflective). If, as a teacher, you decide that reflection is a potentially valuable learning tool, then the only way to really understand, evaluate, and support reflection in students is to experience it yourself.

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