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Reflective Writing Courtney Hopf Academic Skills Adviser

ASK WEEK Pathways to Success 18-22 November 2013


Objectives   

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Learn what we mean by reflective writing Learn what kinds of assignments involve reflection Learn about reflective writing’s similarities and differences from other academic writing Learn about the importance of linking reflection and theory Learn how to structure reflective writing


Writing that mentions your practice where relevant

Writing that analyses your practice and experience in relation to the ideas and theories of your course.

Writing that mentions your experiences where relevant

What do they want when they ask for reflective writing?


How is reflective writing different from academic writing? Academic writing

Is written in a formal style Makes use of references Might refer to ‘feelings’ Might make extensive use of the 1st person (‘I’)

Is analytical more than descriptive Is highly structured Must be grammatically correct Uses the author’s experiences in an analytical way

Reflective writing


‘Ordinary’ academic writing

Reflective writing

Using our reading to engage with and analyse the ideas that drive our course/subject

Using our reading and experiences to engage with and analyse the ideas that drive our course/subject


When might I need to write reflectively?  When writing up case studies

 After/during a placement  After/during work experience

 To answer a question that asks you to refer

to your personal experiences  During employment/self-evalutation  After working on a group project


Example assignment titles Write a blog entry describing a challenge you encountered during your placement and how you overcame it. At the end of the project write-up, you must include a reflective section discussing how well your group worked together, with reference to readings on group dynamics.

Write a 3000-word essay discussing an educationrelated issue that has somehow affected your practice and that you feel strongly about.


3 steps

Looking back at something (an event, an observation, a lesson, an Analysing the event intervention). or idea (thinking from different perspectives, often linking to a model or Thinking carefully theory from your about what the subject) event or idea means for you and your ongoing progress as a learner and/or professional.


Structuring reflective writing What constitutes a paragraph?

S E E

Statement = TOPIC SENTENCE Evidence = References or experiences

Explanation = Significance One-sentence paragraph


A standard ‘academic’ paragraph:

S E E

In the tea industry, which relies heavily on reputation and taste over trend, the benefits of direct and organic marketing far outweigh the more traditional elements of the marketing mix. Direct marketing can provide a more personal service (Fill, 2005), whilst organic marketing can provide a sense of community and allows contact and the transferring of knowledge with customers (Ghambari, 2008). In considering community in marketing strategy, Booms and Bitner (1981) suggest an extended marketing mix including people as a key element. This emphasises the impact of culture on the success of the tea industry, and in turn allows for the inclusion of cultural practices in marketing strategy development.


A reflective paragraph: Though we shared out tasks amongst members of the team, this initially caused friction because the tasks were not seen as equally difficult by all team members. Cooperation between group members was thus at risk because of this perception of unfairness. In hindsight, it is clear that we needed a greater degree of what Johnson and Johnson (1993) call ‘positive interdependence’ (cited by Maughan and Webb, 2001, p. 11), or greater cooperation that focuses on the needs of the group as opposed to individuals. Many researchers, including Davis (2003) assert that such cooperation leads to higher achievement of group learners. Given this experience, I will strive to encourage greater positive interdependence in teams in the future, by emphasising that all contributions are equally important, even if they are not equally difficult.

S E E


Another way to think about it Description

What happened? What is being examined?

Interpretation

What is most important/interesting/ useful/relevant about the event or idea? How can it be explained e.g. with theory?

Outcome

What have I learned from this? What does this mean for my future?


A reflective paragraph: Though we shared out tasks amongst members of the team, this initially caused friction because the tasks were not seen as equally difficult by all team members. Cooperation between group members was thus at risk because of this perception of unfairness. In hindsight, it is clear that we needed a greater degree of what Johnson and Johnson (1993) call ‘positive interdependence’ (cited by Maughan and Webb, 2001, p. 11), or greater cooperation that focuses on the needs of the group as opposed to individuals. Many researchers, including Davis (2003) assert that such cooperation leads to higher achievement of group learners. Given this experience, I will strive to encourage greater positive interdependence in teams in the future, by emphasising that all contributions are equally important, even if they are not equally difficult.

D I O


What’s relevant? You can’t talk about everything… 1.

2. 3. 4.

Make of list of any specific events or experiences that stand out to you. Identify anything you feel you learned from those events. Identify any ways of tying those events to your studies or theory. Choose the best ones to build paragraphs from.


Try using a brainstorming table Event/Experience What I took away I witnessed an argument between the team leader and a staff member. I took note of how tasks were assigned amongst the team. The time I helped one of the clients solve a problem. I shadowed a very proactive person and watched how they worked

Relevant theory/teaching


Remember Seemingly small or insignificant moments can turn out to be prime sources of reflection!


Practice Using the vocabulary handout for assistance, choose an event from a work placement or other relevant experience and construct a paragraph using the ‘SEE’ or ‘DIO’ method.


Summary • • • • •

Reflection is a thought process on paper It should not be purely descriptive The purpose is to connect theory and practice Be reflective in all aspects of your learning Consider the small things as well as the big picture


Further Resources • Exeter University, Writing Reflectively • Hampton, M (2009) Reflective writing: a basic introduction. University of Portsmouth Academic Skills [Online] http://www.port.ac.uk/departments/studentsupport /ask/resources/handouts/WrittenAssignments/fileto download,73259,en.pdf [Accessed 24.11.09] • Moon, J (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development, Kogan Page, London • Oxford Brookes, Reflective Writing Guide


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Reflective Writing ASK Week Spring 2013