Successful Reflection

succeed lite guide to reflection

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.

Reflective writing

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

driscolls three whats image

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?

What to include in reflective writing

  • 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.