Reflective writing

An introduction to reflective writing: video transcript

Transcript start

[Monash University logo]

An introduction to reflective writing.

Reflective writing has become increasingly common in university courses.

Yet we don’t often think about it as being something we’d do for assessment.

We often think of reflection as something we’d do in a diary entry, or maybe even an email.

Instances where we’re describing what we’ve been doing.

But reflective writing is much more than this.

It helps us to think about what we’ve experienced, why our experience unfolded in the way that it did, how we could do things differently, and how we can apply what we’ve learnt to future experiences.

[on-screen animated text]

[REFLECTIVE WRITING IS IMPORTANT FOR LEARNING]

[WHAT? WHY? SO WHAT? HOW?]

At university you might be asked to reflect on your past experience or you might have to reflect on your learning.

That is, the particular ideas and concepts from your units.

While there isn’t a correct structure to this kind of writing, a lot of students make the mistake of spending too much time describing and not enough time analysing.

That is, they spend too much time saying what happened or explaining what the idea or theory is, and not enough time saying why the idea or the event is significant and how it might be applied in the future.

[on-screen animation of two pie diagrams]

[Diagram on the left: Don't do this... Description 80%, Analysis 20%]

[Diagram on the right: Do this! Description 20%, Analysis 80%]

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle is a model that can be used as a guide to reflective writing.

It can help you move beyond simple descriptions.

It breaks the process down into 6 steps.

It begins with description, so what happened, but then it encourages you to ask more analytical questions - to do with your feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion and an action plan.

[on-screen animated text connected with arrows]

[GIBBS' REFLECTIVE CYCLE]

[1. DESCRIPTION - WHAT HAPPENED?]

[2. FEELINGS - HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL?]

[3. EVALUATION - WHAT WAS POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE?]

[4. ANALYSIS - HOW ELSE COULD YOU INTERPRET THIS SITUATION?]

[5. CONCLUSION - WHAT ELSE COULD YOU HAVE DONE?]

[6. ACTION PLAN - WHAT COULD YOU DO NEXT TIME?]

In cases where you’re asked to reflect on your learning, rather than an experience, Gibbs reflective cycle might look a bit more like this, as indicated in blue.

[on-screen animated blue text added to the previous Gibb's reflective cycle]

[1. DESCRIPTION - WHAT HAPPENED? - WHAT IS THE TOPIC, IDEA OR THEORY?]

[2. FEELINGS - HOW DID IT MAKE YOU FEEL? - INTERESTING? CHALLENGING?]

[3. EVALUATION - WHAT WAS POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE?]

[4. ANALYSIS - HOW ELSE COULD YOU INTERPRET THIS SITUATION? - AFFIRM? CHALLENGE? CHANGE YOUR UNDERSTANDING?]

[5. CONCLUSION - WHAT ELSE COULD YOU HAVE DONE?]

[6. ACTION PLAN - WHAT COULD YOU DO NEXT TIME? - WHAT ELSE? FUTURE APPLICATION?]

Generally speaking all reflective writing tasks should include some of this...

[on-screen animation]

[1. DESCRIPTION - WHAT?]

But more of this.

[on-screen animation]

[2. ANALYSIS - WHY? HOW?]

[3. OUTCOMES OR ACTION - SO WHAT? NOW WHAT?]

While reflective writing involves thinking about the past, the purpose of it is really to see what can be learnt from the experience, and to use that new insight to shape the experiences of your future.

[on-screen animation of two-headed arrow connecting words]

[words on the left of the arrow: Topic, Theory, Event, Observation]

[words on the right of the arrow: Similar situation in future, Career, Professional practice]

Applying the ideas and techniques outlined in this video will help you successfully undertake reflective writing at university.

[on-screen animated text]

[IN CONCLUSION]

[REFLECT ON A PAST EXPERIENCE OR YOUR LEARNING]

[GIBBS' REFLECTIVE CYCLE]

[KEY ELEMENTS ARE: DESCRIPTION, ANALYSIS, OUTCOMES OR ACTION]

[ANALYSIS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DESCRIPTION]

We wish you every success.

[on-screen text]

[Further Reading]

[Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Further Education Unit.]

[Moon, J. (2004). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: theory and practice. New York: Routledge Falmer.]

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[Created by Monash University Library]

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End of transcript