Reflective writing

Unlike other writing at ANU, reflective writing is all about you. It is about what you have learned and why it is important to your learning. You need to relate your reflections to your past experiences. If you don't appear prominently in the writing, it is not a reflection.

It is very important that you do not simply summarise what you have learnt; writing a reflection is not the same as making notes for your course.  Instead your reflections need to go further and relate your learning to your past courses, work experiences or everyday life. Having related to your past life you then need to reflect: How has your thinking changed? What is new? What will you do differently in the future?

A reflection has three parts:

  • Retell the facts, summarise the main points, describe the significant concepts or details.
  • Relate this to your previous experiences by giving examples and making connections.  Compare and contrast your retelling to your previous knowledge and experiences.
  • Reflect what it means and what you have learnt. Apply your judgement, give your opinion and communicate your insights

Why reflective writing?

Self reflection is an important step in improving your performance. For many professional sportspeople or performers, video reviews of their games or their performance is a regular part of their training. Successful people learn from their past experiences; that is they reflect and work what worked, what did not work and where they could do better.

Learning is no different; reflecting on your learning will help you to become better at it.

Different styles of reflective writing

Depending on your assessment task and its requirements, the style of writing required can vary significantly. The style can range from informal reflections on your learning to more formal style reflective essays.

More informal reflections often include learning journals or portfolios. Typically, you may be asked for weekly or regular entries that detail how your understanding has changed. You may not be required to formally reference.

More formal reflections include reflective essays which are similar to normal academic essays. Your writing needs to have an argument that is backed by properly referenced evidence. What is different is that your argument is about what you have learnt and why it is important rather than simply responding to a question.

For any reflective writing task, you need to work out what is required. Look at the task instructions and marking rubrics to work out the style.

For some samples of reflective writing and how to how to structure your writing, continue to learning journals  and reflective essays.


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