Arts: Reflective writing in Arts
Reflective writing involves examining the knowledge you have acquired through reading or through an experience and making connections with other relevant concepts in the literature that you have encountered in your learning.
Reflexive writing is a deeper and self-critical practice which examines your underlying assumptions and attitudes and explains how they have been impacted by your learning. It is more personal than reflective writing.
There are a number of aims for setting reflective/reflexive writing tasks, including to:
- check your understanding of the course content and how your thinking has developed
- encourage you to make connections between topics, theories or practices
- develop your skills as an active learner who thinks critically and asks questions.
Attributes of reflective writing
A quality piece of reflective writing will have the following attributes:
Self-assessment and self-understanding:
- evidence of awareness of personal learning processes
- consideration of how and why learning changed
- evidence of appropriate and honest appraisal
- articulation of personal learning and limits.
- articulation of connections between prior and current knowledge
- evidence of capacity to form connections across the unit’s themes and topics
- integrating prior knowledge with new knowledge
- providing relevant examples to prove knowledge.
Understanding reflective/reflexive writing
The difference between reflective/reflexive and academic writing
Academic writing in argumentative or research essays does not usually involve a personal, first-person voice and is much more analytical than descriptive in its tone. In other words, when writing an argumentative or research essay, students are required to adopt an objective, impersonal style of expression. In contrast, reflective/reflexive writing urges students to explore subjective thoughts and feelings, while drawing on their personal experience.
Correct citation method is essential in all academic writing, including reflective/reflexive writing. The difference is that reflective/reflexive writing draws primarily on the experiences and knowledge base of the author.
Check your understanding View
Read each of the following six sentences and consider whether they are reflective, reflexive or academic (argumentative or research).
Types of reflective and reflexive writing
You may be asked to reflect on a variety of learning activities, including:
- readings and texts - for example, you may be required to reflect on how an article changed the way you think about an issue
- an experience or observation - for example, you may be required to attend an ANZAC day service and reflect on your observations of the event
- a theory in practice - for example, you may be asked to reflect on how a theory studied in class applies to an experience, observation or text
- a learning process - for example, after working collaboratively on a group project, you may be asked to reflect on the group work process.
Each type of reflection requires a different way of thinking. For example, reflecting on theory in practice requires you to critique and break down the established understanding while reflecting on how it was taught (learning process) and can lead to recommendations for future study. Being able to identify the type of reflection enables you to provide the appropriate discussion.
Check your understanding View
Identifying learning activities can be difficult. In order to reflect quickly, you need to recognise the appropriate type of reflection. Look at the following learning activities and drag and drop each one onto the appropriate example from above (Experience or Observation; Learning Process; or Reading or Text).
Note: Some elements will appear in multiple sections.
Note-making for reflective writing
To be able to look back and reflect, it is important to take extensive notes during the process of reading or observing. Referring back to your notes will jog your memory so that you can reflect in an insightful way. You may be instructed to keep notes in a reflective journal during semester, or you may need to take your own notes from theoretical readings and learning experiences in order to complete a reflective writing assessment.
One tip for note making is to use different colours for ideas from the text and your own thoughts. For example, use blue for descriptions of an event, and red for your own thoughts about it. Think about the types of questions you have been asked to address in your assessment, for example, you may be asked to reflect on what you knew before and how your understanding of a particular concept, theory or situation has changed or not over the course of your learning and observation.
Click on the icons for more information about writing notes.