Reflective writing

 Assignments at university involve a lot more than writing a traditional research essay.

You may be asked to think about, or reflect upon, a situation or event that has occurred and document your feelings and reactions. For example, you may be asked to write a reflective essay on a work placement experience.

Reflective writing requires you to make a link between your experience and the course content. It’s a way of clarifying the relationship between theory and practice.

Taking time to reflect allows you to become more aware of your own values and belief system and any assumptions you may hold to support those.

The 3 steps of reflective writing

Reflective writing can seem a bit daunting at first. Not sure where to start? Follow these three steps:

1. Describe the event or experience
This is the easy part. You simply document the facts. What happened? When did it happen? How did it happen?

Let’s say you had to write a reflective essay on a work placement experience. You would have to document what tasks you completed and when. Did you have to update the company website on your first day? How did you go about it? How long did it take? Why did it need updating? Record all these details.

2. Interpret what this event or experience means to you
Now, tell us what you think about the event or experience. You will need to dig deep and get in touch with your feelings. What emotions did you experience? Do you have any new insights? Can you make a connection with other things you know or concepts in the course? What were the (or your) strengths and weaknesses of the concept, process, event or procedure?

3. Evaluate the event or experience
You will need to identify what you have learnt from the experience. Did it change your thinking or shift your values, assumptions, or opinions about the event? What else could you have done in the situation or event? Are there any actions that could have helped or hindered the situation? How will you use this information in the future?