Reflective writing

In this video you’ll be introduced to
reflective writing and some techniques to help you make the most of the
reflection process. Throughout your degree you’ll be asked to reflect on
theories you learn and experiences you have. Reflection allows you to look back
on something and think deeply about it. By analyzing, questioning and evaluating
the experience, you’ll develop new insights and perspectives. Often, this
will in turn challenge your beliefs and affect your future actions. Reflective
writing is a chance to think critically about how an experience made you feel
and how this connects to your personal beliefs. We all have our own perspectives
that we bring to any situation, which in turn affects how we see it. This process
also gives you an opportunity to connect these experiences, feelings and beliefs
to theory and research. You can then use these ideas in combination to inform how
you might act or think differently in the future. But be careful. One of the
dangers when asked to write a reflective piece is to dedicate too much of your
word count to simply describing the experience rather than dedicating effort
towards interpreting and evaluating it. The reflection then simply becomes a
recount of what happened or a repeat of what you’ve studied. To avoid this,
remember: your personal perspective is important. Unlike other types of writing,
reflective writing is a chance for you to write about your feelings and
experiences in the first person. To be sure your reflective writing piece goes
deeper than simply describing the event, try considering your experience in
relation to this model: DIEP. First, describe what happened. This could be a single incident or a highlight from that week’s lecture or reading. You don’t need
to recall the entire experience – just a key aspect of the experience itself. Then,
interpret the event. Consider what the experience might mean. How did it make
you feel? How does it relate to other things you’ve learned? What new insights
have you gained from it? Next, evaluate how beneficial or useful the experience
has been. Finally, outline a plan for how the experience may impact on your
thinking and behavior in the future. Being able to write in this way takes
time and practice. Start by brainstorming aspects of your experience first, then
any relevant theories you studied. Next, add related past experiences or personal
beliefs. Once you’ve finished brainstorming, try
making connections between the ideas. This final step will help you identify a
theme. Doing this first will give you the best chance of producing a connected
narrative where your experience, interpretations, evaluations and plans
are presented in a cohesive way. By focusing on a theme, rather than the entire experience or entire reading or lecture, you’ll be able to go into more depth in
your reflection and dedicate more word count to your perspective and insights.
If you have time and already have a topic to write about, pause the video
here to start your own brainstorm and find a theme to focus on. Once you’ve
identified your theme, you’re ready to write. We’re going to look at two sample
paragraphs and review them against the DIEP reflective writing model. Pause the
video here, read the two paragraphs and ask yourself: is one more effective than
the other? If so, how? Why? Paragraph 2 is a much more in-depth
reflection than the first. The sentences highlighted in bold in the second
paragraph are additional points that were missing from the first. In the
second paragraph, the author has identified their focus or theme – in this
case, their experience of writing their first technical document in the
workplace. They’ve written about how the experience felt and connected this to
theory. They’ve also identified an opportunity to develop further. The
student who wrote the second paragraph will have a much deeper understanding of
the experience and how they can use it to shape their own development in the
future. Now let’s take a closer look at the language they used to demonstrate
this deeper reflection. They’ve shown how the experience made them feel with
language such as ‘I found’ and ‘I felt’, and evaluated the experience with statements
such as ‘which gave me’ and ‘it reminded me’. Furthermore, their plans for the future
are highlighted using language such as ‘I need to’, ‘I’m very interested in
developing’ and ‘I hope to’. To be sure you have a balance of ideas and have not
dedicated too much of your word count to simply describing the experience, try
color coding your description, interpretation, evaluation and plan in
four different colors. Here the description is highlighted in blue, the
interpretation in red, the evaluation in green and the plan in yellow. This allows
us to easily see the balance between these four elements. This is a great
technique to try while editing your document. The example we’ve just analysed focuses on an experience, but the technique is equally effective when
reflecting on lectures, readings and theories. Many students who’ve been asked to write reflectively for an assignment have found it so beneficial that they’ve
continued the practice even after the subject has finished. So, we’ve looked at how to approach reflective writing through an initial brainstorming phase. We’ve
also applied the DIEP model to identify new insights.
You’re now ready to begin the process yourself. If you would like more detailed
information on reflective writing style and how to avoid common mistakes, go to the Reflective Writing module in the Academic Skills Hub. You can access The
Hub by logging into the LMS. For more tips and advice, to register for
workshops or events, or to find out what’s happening in Academic Skills,
visit our website.

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