why is reflective writing important

why is reflective writing important

The Importance of Reflective Writing

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1. Introduction

“Not since the 50s and 60s has the term ‘reflective writing’ entered the academic zeitgeist. Jennifer Moon, who is likely emerging as the world’s leading authority on reflective practice, in her latest work, ‘A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning’, details a massive array of approaches to reflective learning and illustrates how they can be unambiguously mapped over twenty years of discussion. This plethora of sources on the topic has caused a confusion of conflation; reflective writing is not simply the cognitive process of ‘reflection’ lightly documented. Reflective writing is an interdisciplinary field. It doesn’t ‘belong’ to any one discipline, and there is no ‘correct way’ of ‘doing it.’ This is important to realize for educators. Reflective writing is students ideologically unpacking the world around them. This perhaps can be aimed at the ‘reflection’ part of ‘reflective practice’, where the theoretical (reflection) must be mapped to the practical (writing). Moon makes this assertion in her work, and her book as a whole is an invaluable source for educators teaching reflective practice because she takes the vast cache of theory and through reflective writing, assesses reflective writing.”

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

One of the key benefits of reflective writing is the reader’s ability to learn from the writer’s experience. Learning is something that an individual does on a continuous basis. It is an essential part of working and living, and there are an infinite number of sources available to be used as forms of learning. Reflective writing is high on the list of learning methods as it gives a first-hand account of an experience, and the writer is able to recall the event in order to reflect upon it. This, in itself, is a learning experience because when the individual is able to bring an event to mind, it shows that the event is memorable, possibly for one of a variety of reasons, but there is always something to be learned. The fact that the situation is brought to mind shows that there is something in that situation that the individual does not now understand and would like to understand. His/her reflection will allow the situation to be remembered in more detail. Through this process, the individual may also remember how he was feeling at the time and why he now feels the way he does. This understanding of the progression in one’s emotions is also an important learning experience as it will often be the deciding factor in deciding to attempt a similar task. This experience of cause and effect is an important learning experience and is best learned from past situations through reflective practice. Another benefit of reflective writing is that it is a process that can take place anywhere, at any time. It requires no special equipment or preparation, and while it can be practiced formally, in designated time and place, it can also be done informally, and often is. For example, it is not uncommon for an individual to reflect upon something that has happened while he/she is walking, cooking, or lying in bed before going to sleep. This could be one of the most beneficial aspects of reflective practice, as often it is not until the day is over and one is winding down that he/she has the free time to think.

3. Strategies for Effective Reflective Writing

The process of reflection is not a particularly logical one; many writers through the ages have tried to come up with systems to detect or register the act of reflection, but it still seems to remain a fuzzy abstract concept. Yet in order to complete our studies successfully, there are times when we need to force the cognitive process and find a starting point to begin the act of reflection. As with any written task, a good place to start is with a plan. It has been found that students benefit best in an assessed situation when they are given a structure for reflection. Using a model such as Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle might be a good place to start. This is a simple model which asks the writer to assess what happened, to deliberate on the events, to consider alternative actions and to ponder on the implications of what has taken place. Using such a systematic model not only is logical and fit for purpose, but also allows the student to keep track of the thought process taken to be able to demonstrate a learning journey at a later date. The idea of reflection is to be able to explain an internal process in a concrete way, and using a system like Gibbs’ will help a writer to identify learning outcomes as well helping those reading their work to understand them to. An important part of any reflection is to make it a conscious act; it is all too easy to recount events in a diary like form, without considering their relevance or effect upon future actions. By deciding on a simple framework and recognising that reflection takes a cognitive effort, the quality of a reflective piece can only improve.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

Here’s an example of a poem analysis employing deep reflection. The core of reflection in poetry concerns what is it about what has been said and how the reader has understood it. One must probe right into the words and themes and thereby begin a journey into the writer’s world. Often poetry can be obscure and it is up to the reader to discover the true meaning of the poem.

Armed with the above knowledge, now we can begin to write our sustained response to a poem and a personal recount. Remember, the length of your response will determine how much you can write. The critical element of this stage is to remember to link to and refer to specific examples of the text types and to maintain a deep level of consideration and understanding. This means writing about the underlying messages, your reaction to and why you reacted in this way, as well as personal meanings due to past experiences and how you have interpreted the copy. Writing these things out as a sort of a mental checklist can be very helpful.

5. Conclusion

The report is informed by the value of self-reflection at looking at the stages of learning from the following perspectives. These are the ABC learning theory by Schonn (reflective thinking, reflection on action, and reflection in action), Gibbs’ reflective cycle, and Atkins and Murphy’s model for living. Essentially, there has been careful analysis of what were learning events that led to change and understanding. These reflective learning models help identify trends and patterns in the learning, how it affects change, knowledge, and practice. Future use of these models will help clarify what the modes of learning are successful and which are not conducive to change. This will help identify areas that need reinforcement and those that need alternative strategies. Reflection has also looked at emerging understandings about the broad nature of dietetics and nutrition practice and how my learning has changed perceptions and attitudes. With ever-changing health and nutrition information, it is important to keep an open mind and change or modify skills from time to time.

It is clear from the reflective writing samples that it is indeed very important for a student to reflect on their learning. To do this, students must think about what they have learned, how they learned it, and why they learned something in particular. Reflective writing gives the student the opportunity to look back on their learning and to think about the learning activities that took place. It is here that students can identify any significant learning events that occurred. An example of a significant learning event that took place during the unit was during a tutorial. I was required to give a presentation on one of the weekly topics to my tutorial group. This was a learning activity that I found hard, and I was forced to look back on my notes and to the reader for further understanding of the topic. This event forced me to re-evaluate my study habits and to ascertain what learning activities were successful and those which were unsuccessful. Reflective writing has revealed that I need to improve my time management and study skills.

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