Guidance notes – Capturing Critical Reflection in Your Writing.
Following are a few distinctive features of critically reflective writing. Don’t
panic! These are only indicative – you don’t need to closely follow or include
all the steps that are outlined below in order to get a good mark. But what you
need to keep in mind is the balance between description, self-awareness,
analysis and critique.
Depending on your interests, some entries can be longer/shorter than others
as long as you cover the eight weeks and don’t go over the word limit.
A learning journal that is too descriptive or solely summarizes the
content of the lectures or of the books that you have read in connection
with other sources will read like an essay – this isn’t the main purpose
of the journal
Don’t try to cover too much content in your description – focus on one
or two sets of ideas or concepts maximum each week
A learning journal that only expresses your opinions as statements
without justification or argumentation, without further elaboration – why
you think that way, and if others think like you, for instance – or in a way
that doesn’t demonstrate the connections that characterise your
thoughts will be imbalanced
Go beyond description; be analytical – see the ‘discuss’ step below –
and even one step further, critical
Good luck! Garance
Critically reflective writing often starts from the description of an incident or an
experience – for instance, your encounter with a concept or set of ideas. So
first, you need to choose what to focus on – an idea, a concept, a theoretical
approach or perspective that were included in lectures or in your readings. In
the context of this learning log, your initial description doesn’t needs to be a
‘rich’ description, but just a summary that will enable the reader to situate
Within the description, include evidence of self-awareness.
Reflective writing recognises ‘feelings’ and ‘thoughts’. So – do include your
own thoughts and feelings – this is quite acceptable in this genre of writing.
How did I feel about this idea? Did I find it difficult to engage in the discussion
or not? Which connections did you make?
Set the experience/ discussion in its context.
It is crucial to ground an incident (e.g. your encounter with a set of ideas) in
some context. Don’t leave it disembodied – floating in the ether! Link it to your
own previous experience. Were there any distinctive features of this
concept/perspective that enriched your knowledge, contradicted your beliefs,
Link the description to articles/books you have read, or to other
ideas and theories found in the literature.
This is not just dropping ‘names’ and ‘references’ into a piece of writing
artificially. It is making connections between your experiences and others’
experiences. For example – “this discussion appears to follow the same lines
as that identified by x” or “this concept/set of ideas/perspective differs from
that described by x.”
Discuss the ideas and issues that you raise in your description,
contextualise and clarify linkages.
Don’t just ‘report’ – discuss and be analytical. Analyse arguments for and
against, or situate them relatively to other sources you have found – what
evidence or theories are these arguments based on? Were there alternative
possibilities that could have been considered? Why was a particular action
taken, or a line of argument followed?
Challenge assumptions. Don’t be afraid to posit original thoughts on the
Summarise and synthesise – at the end of your journal
Draw all your own ideas, and the ideas of others (either theoretical or
practice-based), together. Consider whether the reflection has given you new
insights, or indicated areas where further observation, practice and/or
thinking need to be carried out. Just as you ground your reflective writing
within its previous and current context, so you need to identify where it might
change your practice
Type of service: Academic Paper Writing
Type of assignment: Essay
Number of sources: 0
Academic level: Undergraduate
Paper format: Harvard
Line spacing: Double
Language style: UK English