What is reflection in the university context?
Reflection is a genre in which you will be required to describe an event, experience, interaction, etc. and then think about its connection to academic content and your learning from your units. Its purpose is mainly to help you learn from previous experiences to perform better if a similar situation arises in the future.
Reflective writing is quite different from other academic writing. The main point of difference is that other academic writing asks you to be objective, while reflective writing encourages you to be subjective and self-aware. In other words, reflective writing allows you to consider and write about your own experiences, and draw on your own knowledge and learning. Successful reflective writing will make connections between your personal feelings and experiences and broader knowledge in the field.
Top tips for excellent reflection View
A strong piece of reflective writing will demonstrate self-understanding and self-assessment, as well as highlighting your learning from the unit.
2. Analyse and evaluate
In reflective writing, although you’ll need to provide a description of events or experiences, the bulk of your focus should be on analysing and evaluating. Keep your descriptions brief and to the point to give the reader enough context. Rather than spending time simply summarising events, try to focus on their significance and gauge how they influenced your learning.
3. Check your tenses
Reflection in the present moment often involves analysing something that happened in the past with a view to re-imagining it in the future. Ensure that you use correct verb tenses to indicate this.
4. Remain objective
A reflective essay should not offer a review of the quality or content of what you’ve experienced. Focus less on describing the positive and negative aspects, and more on what you learned and how it can be applied in the future.
5. Avoid informal language
Avoid writing your reflective essay as though it were a diary entry, a list of complaints or criticisms, or creative free-writing exercise. Instead, keep the tone of your writing clear, analytical and thoughtful, focusing on the learning from the unit and application to future study and career as relevant.
6. Use academic English
Although use of personal pronouns (e.g. ‘I’, ‘my’ and ‘mine’) are possible in reflective writing, it is still a form of academic writing that is formal in tone and requires planning, clear structure and, in many cases, citing and referencing of key sources.