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Reflective Writing: A short guide

A Short Guide to Reflective Writing

Models of reflection

There are frameworks that you can use to aid your reflective process. Alternatively, you may want to create your own. It needs to be a set of questions that you can ask yourself about an experience, plus a process by which you apply and learn from your reflection.

If you use one of these frameworks you could write about that explicitly when you are asked to reflect. You might say, 'Following Gibbs' (1988) advice, I designed an action plan in order to...'

Schon (1983) 

Reflection before, during and after a learning process (Schon, 1983)

  • Before an experience: What do you think might happen? What might be the challenges? What do I need to know or do in order to be best prepared for these experiences?
  • During an experience: What's happening now, as you make rapid decisions? Is it working out as I expected? Am I dealing with the challenges well? Is there anything I should do, say or think to make the experience successful? What am I learning from this?
  • After an experience: What are your insights immediately after, and/or later when you have more emotional distance from the event? In retrospect how did it go? What did I particularly value and why? Is there anything I would do differently before or during a similar event? What have I learnt?

Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

Graham Gibbs (1988) created a reflective learning cycle, including the role of feelings:

  • Description: What happened?
  • Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience?
  • Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation?
  • Action Plan: If it arose again what would you do?
  • Feelings: What were you thinking and feeling?
  • Conclusion: What else could you have done?
  • Go back to the beginning 
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