Reflective thinking and writing
How to write reflectively
Creating a piece of reflective writing is different to other academic writing as it is more personal and you are writing about your experiences.
The table below lists the differences between reflective and academic writing.
|Personal account||Impersonal account|
|Consider your personal views||Consider the views of others|
|First person||Third person|
|Contemplates||Argues and justifies|
|Finds solutions to problems||Compares and contrasts|
Structure for reflective writing
Figure 2: Reflective writing structure - three Ws
When you write reflectively, use the three Ws:
- What? (description)
- What happened?
- Who was involved?
- So what? (interpretation)
- What is most important/interesting/relevant/ useful aspect of the event/idea/situation?
- How can it be explained?
- How is it similar to/different from others?
- What next? (outcome)
- What have I learned?
- How can it be applied in the future?
- Don't just describe – explore and explain what happened.
- Be honest – it's ok to admit to making mistakes as well as success. But you should also show how you understand why things happen and what you are going to do to improve.
- Be selective – you don’t have to write about everything that happened, just key events or ideas.
- Look to the future – reflect on what happened in the past and how it will have an impact on future ideas or activities.
Finally, do check how your lecturer wants you to structure your reflective writing, as they may want you to write it in a particular way.
This is the final chapter of the book.