Reflective and reflexive writing: language and structure

The style of writing associated with a reflective essay is similar to that of a blog post, although sometimes it needs to be more formal. Most blogs will take one small topic – whether it is a piece of evidence, a personal experience, a challenge to the author’s assumptions or values – and use it to reflect on the theme of their blog.

Although reflective writing features the first person voice, the phrases ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’ should be used sparingly and carefully. Any claims that you make need to be supported by evidence (the reading, learning process or experience) and clear reasoning.

In a piece of reflective writing, depending on the type of assignment you are writing, you may use past, present and future tense at various stages of your reflection. For example, when describing personal experiences that have already occurred, you should use past tense; when articulating your current thoughts, you should use present tense; and when describing what you plan to do differently in the future, you should use future tense.

Ensure your tone is balanced and measured, even when writing about your thoughts and feelings. You need to be introspective, acknowledge biases, and avoid being judgemental without providing insight.

Sample assignment: Team work

You’ve now got some ideas about how to approach reflective/reflexive writing. If you have further questions, speak to your unit coordinator or tutor. Good luck with your assignment!