- Descriptive writing
Critically reflective writing starts with the describing of an incident or an experience. This needs to be a ‘rich’ description, not just a summary of what happened. A reflective writer is skilled in the discipline of noticing (Mason 2002).
- Within the description, include evidence of self-awareness
Reflective writing recognises feelings and thoughts, so encourage your learners to include their own thoughts and feelings. They might ask themselves:
- How did I feel about this incident?
- What part did I play?
- Did I find it difficult to engage in the discussion?
- Set the experience/discussion in its context
It’s crucial to ground an incident or a discussion in some context that is linked to your own previous experience.
- Was this incident like previous ones, or did it differ significantly in any way?
- Were there any distinctive features that distinguished it from previous activities that have taken place?
- Link the description to articles/books you have read
Or to other ideas and theories found in the literature. This is not just name-dropping, but making connections between personal experiences and the experiences of others.
- Discuss the ideas and issues raised in the description, context and links
Analyse arguments for and against:
- What evidence or theories are these arguments based on?
- Were there alternative possibilities that could have been considered?
- Why was a particular action taken, or a line of argument followed?
- Be critical
Challenge assumptions. Ask awkward questions and introduce new perspectives where possible.
- Summarise and Synthesise
Bring in your own ideas and those of others (either theoretical or practice-based), evaluate whether the reflection has presented you with new insights, or highlighted areas for further consideration.
- Be clear about linking reflection to practice
There is also a need to see the potential future impact on your practice or your learning. It might lead to an action plan for implementing future changes or of adapting behaviour online to gain deeper understanding in future modules.