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Reflective Writing

Guidance Notes for Students

Pete Watton Jane Collings Jenny Moon April 2001

Contents

Aims and Objectives Using the Guidance Notes What is Required in Reflective Writing Deepening Reflection Exercise in Reflective Writing -1 Multiple Perspectives in Reflective Writing Possible Sources of Evidence for Reflection Exercise in Reflective Writing –2 Practising Reflective Writing References Bibliography Web Sites Pack Evaluation

Page 3 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 17 Page 17 Page 18-19 Page 19 Page 20

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Aims and Objectives Aim To inform and support the production of reflective writing for work-based learning or work experience modules. Objectives - Having worked through the pack you will have: Identified the characteristics of reflective writing Recognise how to deepen reflective writng Be able to start writing reflectively Locate resources to support your reflective writing

Using the Guidance Notes
This pack is intended for your use, so you should feel free to write in it and customise it as you see fit. The pack provides both background information, exercises to complete and reference material for further research.

Introducing Reflection
There is increasingly much academic writing about the benefits of reflecting on practice for everyone involved in education. An excellent description of reflection can be found in the Harry Potter novel ‘ The Goblet of Fire’. In the paragraph below Dumbledore the chief wizard and head teacher is talking to Harry about having excess thoughts! ‘Harry stared at the stone basin. The contents had returned to their original, silvery white state, swirling and rippling beneath his gaze. “ What is it?” Harry asked shakily. “This? It is called a Pensieve,” said Dumbledore. “ I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.” “Err,” said Harry who couldn’t truthfully say that he had ever felt anything of the sort. “At these times” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “ I use the Penseive. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into a basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.’ ( Rowling 2000)

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What is Required in Reflective Writing ?
Why Reflect? ‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’ (Gibbs 1988) Reflective writing provides an opportunity for you to gain further insights from your work through deeper reflection on your experiences, and through further consideration of other perspectives from people and theory. Through reflection we can we can deepen the learning from work. The Nature and Content of Reflection So what do we mean by reflection? One tentative definition of reflection is offered by Moon (1999): ‘… a form of mental processing with a purpose and/or anticipated outcome that is applied to relatively complex or unstructured ideas for which there is not an obvious solution’. (Moon 1999 pp23) She continues by outlining some of the purposes for reflection: ‘We reflect in order to: Consider the process of our own learning – a process of metacognition Critically review something - our own behaviour, that of others or the product of behaviour (e.g. an essay, book, painting etc.) Build theory from observations: we draw theory from generalisations - sometimes in practical situations, sometimes in thoughts or a mixture of the two Engage in personal or self development Make decisions or resolve uncertainty … Empower or emancipate ourselves as individuals (and then it is close to selfdevelopment) or...
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