More on structure

This is just one way of structuring reflective writing. There are others and you may be required to follow a particular model (for example, Gibbs). Whichever approach to reflection you use, try to bear in mind the following four key points (all of which were made by course tutors who set and mark reflective work):

  • Reflection is an exploration and an explanation of events - not just a description of them.
  • Genuinely reflective writing often involves ‘revealing’ anxieties, errors and weaknesses, as well as strengths and successes. This is fine (in fact it’s often essential!), as long as you show some understanding of possible causes, and explain how you plan to improve.
  • It is normally necessary to select just the most significant parts of the event or idea on which you’re reflecting. If you try to ‘tell the whole story’ you’re likely to use up your words on description rather than interpretation.
  • It is often useful to ‘reflect forward’ to the future as well as ‘reflecting back’ on the past.

The next pages have a few suggestions for words and phrases that might be useful in reflective writing. However, using any of them will not in itself make you a good reflective writer! The vocabulary aid is structured according to the three part analysis on the previous page.

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. Based on a work at,73259,en.pdf.