Reflective writing

Reflective writing

What is it?

Many courses ask students to write reflectively. There are many different models of reflection and it is vital that you follow any guidelines given by your tutors. Reflective writing is evidence of reflective thinking. In an academic context, reflective thinking usually involves:

  • Looking back at something (often an event, but it could also be an idea or object).
  • Analysing the event or idea (thinking in depth and from different perspectives, and trying to explain, often with reference to a model or theory from your subject).
  • Thinking carefully about what the event or idea means for you and your ongoing progress as a learner or practising professional.

Reflective writing is more personal than other kinds of academic writing. We all think reflectively in everyday life, but perhaps not to the same depth as that expected in good reflective writing at university level.

An example of basic reflective writing

Specific tasks were shared out amongst members of my team. Initially, however, the tasks were not seen as equally difficult by all team members. Cooperation between group members was at risk because of this perception of unfairness. Social interdependence theory recognises a type of group interaction called ‘positive interdependence’, meaning cooperation (Johnson & Johnson, 1993, cited by Maughan & Webb, 2001), and many studies have demonstrated that “cooperative learning experiences encourage higher achievement” (Maughan & Webb, 2001). Ultimately, our group achieved a successful outcome, but to improve the process, we perhaps needed a chairperson to help encourage cooperation when tasks were being shared out. In future group work, on the course and at work, I would probably suggest this.

Reference: Maughan, C., & Webb, J. (2001). Small group learning and assessment. Retrieved August 01, 2007, from the Higher Education Academy website:

Creative Commons Licence
SMILE - Reflective writing by Martin Hampton, ASK, University of Portsmouth modified by Marion Kelt, GCU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.