Describe the Reflective Journal

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Reflective writing
This guide is part of a series looking at particular areas of learning that are relevant to practice-based study modules. It explores how to write an assignment which is based upon, or includes, reflective thinking, and has advice on: * The challenges of reflective writing

* Key features of reflective writing
* Using academic evidence in reflective writing
* Selecting the content
* Getting the language right
You can also download a printable (PDF) version of this guide onReflective writing (designed to be printed double-sided on A4 paper, then folded to make an A5 leaflet). The challenges of reflective writing

Reflective writing involves an exploration and explanation of an event. It may feel particularly difficult and more challenging than other forms of academic writing as it involves thinking and writing about anxieties and errors as well as successes in your interactions with an individual or when carrying out a practical task. Try to stand back from the situation and be as objective as possible. Although you are writing about your own experiences and feelings, you need to be as rigorous and thorough as you would be for any other assignment. Follow the guidelines for your course. There is likely to be a word limit: you cannot write about everything, so select what will illustrate your discussion best. Remember that most of the marks awarded for your work are likely to be for the reflective insights and not for the description of events, so keep your descriptions brief and to the point. back to top

Key features of reflective writing
Reflective writing is a way of processing your practice-based experience to produce learning. It has two key features: 1) It integrates theory and practice. Identify important aspects of your reflections and write these using the appropriate theories and academic context to explain and interpret your reflections. Use your experiences to evaluate the theories - can the theories be adapted or modified to be more helpful for your situation? 2) It identifies the learning outcomes of your experience. So you might include a plan for next time identifying what you would do differently, your new understandings or values and unexpected things you have learnt about yourself. back to top

Using academic evidence in reflective writing
You are aiming to draw out the links between theory and practice. So you will need to keep comparing the two and exploring the relationship between them. Analyze the event and think about it with reference to a particular theory or academic evidence. Are your observations consistent with the theory, models or published academic evidence? How can the theories help you to interpret your experience? Also consider how your experience in practice helps you to understand the theories. Does it seem to bear out what the theories have predicted? Or is it quite different? If so, can you identify why it's different? (Perhaps you were operating in different circumstances from the original research, for instance.) - Be selective: Identify challenging or successful parts of the encounter. Reflect deeply on a few significant aspects and learning points. - Discuss your reflections with others to deepen your insight, improve your ability to express your ideas and help to explore a range of perspectives. - Collect evidence There are two sources of evidence which need to be used in reflective writing assignments: 1) Your reflections form essential evidence of your experiences. Keep notes on your reflections and the developments that have occurred during the process. 2) Academic evidence from published case studies and theories to show how your ideas and practices have developed in the context of the relevant academic literature. back to top...
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