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Study Skills

Reflective Practice Toolkit

Introduction

Hopefully the exercise on the last page gave you some ideas for how to get started with reflective writing but where do you go next? When writing reflectively many people fall into the trap of describing the thing they are writing about. Often the person reading the reflective piece will have no direct experience of the subject and it's natural to make sure they understand exactly what happened! Although it can be tempting it's important to get the balance right. You need to offer a brief description of the experience to set the scene but then you should move on to the reflection.

The exercises below will guide you through writing a short reflective piece on an experience. The more practice you have at this, the easier it will become for you to write reflectively.

Writing about an experience

Ultimately how you choose to reflect will be up to you. You may find that you can just start writing reflections or you may need some prompts. Think back to the reflective practice models highlighted and use any which appeal to you to as a way to get started. If you are new to reflective writing you might find it useful to start with something simple like Driscoll's What Model. It is also a good idea to limit the amount you write about each area until you have had some practice. Try the formula below to write a short reflective piece using the three what's and a two, three, four sentence structure:

  • Brief description (What?) - write a maximum of two sentences which describe the experience.
  • What you thought about the experience (So what?) - write a maximum of three sentences which outline your feelings on the experience and anything you learnt from it.
  • What happens next (Now what?) - write a maximum of four sentences on what you are going to do as a result of the experience.

Try this with two or three different experiences until you are able to write short reflective pieces. When you feel ready you can try writing something longer using the activity and prompts below.

Activity: Reflective writing

Think about an experience that you could learn from. It doesn't matter if it went well or if it went badly. Use the prompts below to write a longer reflective piece on the experience.

Looking back at an experience, reflect on:Tower building reflection
  • Your expectations before the experience
  • How you approached it
  • Which parts you found easy/hard
Think about what you learned as a result:
  • How did your knowledge and understanding change?
  • What would you do differently if faced with a similar situation?
Consider how you might use your learning in the future:
  • How might you put into practice what you have learnt?
  • What challenges might you face?
  • How would you deal with these?

Tower building reflection by LaLouBlue via Pixabay  licenced under CC0.

Conclusion

For many people reflective writing is not something which comes naturally. It takes the most experienced writers a lot of practice to be able to write something truly reflective, especially if they have a strict word limit! Don't be discouraged if things go wrong the first time you try to write reflectively - it's a process which can take a few drafts.

By completing the exercises on these pages you can get some experience at reflective writing and gradually push yourself to produce longer and more complicated pieces. The more you reflect, both in your writing and your practice, the easier the process will become.