“Reflective Writing” a Part of  Quality Learning
August 04, 2017
Author : Administrator

‘We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.’

John Dewey

What Do You Need To Understand About Reflective Writing?

What does we understand from reflection? It’s basically an idea about something, especially one that is written down or expressed. Same is reflective writing, here you are encouraged to reveal your personal thoughts about your life experiences in relation to the content you are learning about in your units. Reflective writing differs from other kinds of university writing that you may be more familiar with.

Reflective writing is basically a link between you and your course. Your lecturer has planned the course, selected readings to further your knowledge and established tasks to help you establish sound teaching philosophies. In reflective writing you should consider the context as well as your personal position when you raise questions or make personal comments on theories and practices.

Reflective Writing is:

  • Our response to experiences, opinions, events or new information
  • Your response to thoughts and feelings
  • A way of thinking to explore your learning
  • An opportunity to gain self-knowledge
  • A way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning
  • A chance to develop and reinforce writing skills
  • A way of making meaning out of what you study

Reflective Writing Is Not:

  • Just conveying information, instruction or argument
  • Pure description, though there may be descriptive elements
  • Straightforward decision or judgement (e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad)
  • Simple problem-solving
  • A summary of course notes
  • A standard university essay

How to write a reflective essay or assignment?

  • Focus on the learning outcomes
  • Identify an effective way of writing an introduction
  • Recognize the structure of body paragraphs in order to support your introduction
  • Produce an effective conclusion

Body of a Reflection Essay or Assignment

  • Descriptive about the event/experience and your feelings at that time
  • Evaluation of the event/experience (what was good or bad about it)
  • Analysis of the event or experience (cause and effect, compare and contrast)

What is the difference between descriptive and reflective writing?

Descriptive writing is where you describe the facts that have made up the event or the experience. Whereas in reflective writing you are supposed to evaluate your experience. Let us understand this with an example:

Past Experience Descriptive Reflective
A student nurse on a recent clinical placement In this particular situation the student is supposed to describe the physical environment (the ward, the bed, the patient, the MDT), who he talked to, what he did, or what he was told to do. Here the student will describe, what he learned, what he discovered which he did not knew earlier, what perceptions did he had before placement, did the experience confirm or challenge them, what he plans to do about his needs, skills he need to develop or acquire

Have a look at some of the phrases you can try incorporating in a reflective work:

  • My experience of this leads me to believe/think/question…
  • I think/feel/believe/hope/am convinced...
  • I remember/recall...
  • This was difficult/easy/frightening/exciting etc.
  • I find this worrying/amusing/convenient etc.
  • For me, this assertion is very difficult to agree with...
  • I agree/do not agree with Smith (2013) when she argues that...
  • Based on my personal beliefs and experiences…
  • In my mind the key question/issue is…
  • It had not occurred to me that

Example of reflective writing


Reflective Assignment Question
The aim of this reflection is to focus on the positive sides of open system management. To do that, first of all a detailed analysis on the background of open system management will be done and after that real life organizational example will be used to ensure the importance of open system management.An open system management is a system in which the organization has external interactions in the form of energy, information or material transfers. The open system is exactly opposite of isolated system. It guides the entire set of organizations, institutional sectors and units within the organizations. The components of open system management are inputs, outputs, technology, organizational behaviour and processes, environment, culture, systems dynamics, structure, etc. (Boje & Gephert, 2009). As per my understanding an organization is an assembly of people who are working together to achieve a common goal. Business organizations ate formed to deliver goods or services to the customers in a manner that at the end they can realize profit. Organization was divided into two major parts that are open system and closed system.

The traditional theorists have considered organization as a closed or isolated system. But this traditional theory failed to take into account many environment issues that have a huge impact over the efficiency of an organization. In this manner the open system of management has emerged. I have observed that the term open system has reflected on the belief that all organizations are different and unique in their functioning and this is because of the unique environment in which they operate.

(This is just a part of a reflective assignment and not the entire assignment)

Students are to write a reflective essay (max 750 words) which details how they have experienced the Open Systems management approach (i.e. model) in an organizational context. To effectively do so students must accurately and succinctly describe the primary premise of the Open Systems model and its key characteristics. They must also support, using strong logic and reference to published material, how their experience is clearly symptomatic of the management approach.

Students with no workplace experience on which to base their essay will need to identify and interview someone who can provide the required first-hand insight.

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