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H808 – Criteria for reflective writing (CA 2.5)

October 10, 2010

What is and constitutes good reflective writing?!

Two students, Lisa and Bob are talking about the rationale of reflective writing. Watch my movie on reflective writing or continue reading the guidelines!

1. What is reflective writing?

  • Reflection is a form of thinking, thinking about your own work/learning, your insights and feelings.
  • looking back thinking about how you do things, or reflect forward thinking about an idea or object
  • analysing an event or idea, thinking about different perspectives, trying to explain, explore your emotions/feelings
  • thinking carefully about what the idea/event means for you and your personal and/or professional development

2. Methods for reflective writing

  • You can use a blog, learning journal or portfolio for reflective writing

3. How and what to reflect on?

  • there are several ways of structuring reflective writing
  • You can follow e.g. Pedler’s Learning Cycle to structure your writing
  • Something happens? – What did you do? What was it? Present, analyse, discuss, organise, prepare ?
  • What happens? – What were the main challenges or difficulties/problems? How did you react and feel? Was your beliefs and expectations confirmed or challenged, how did they contrast with others?
  • So what? – Evaluate your performance. What criteria do you apply? What feedback do you have? What have so learned, what further reading or research could you do? What conclusion can you draw from this?
  • What’s next? – Would you do anything differently next time? How can you apply your learning to another idea? What are the benefits for you? What is your plan-in the short and long-term?

Pedler's Learning Cycle for reflective writing

4. Why reflective writing – purpose and outcomes?

  • it improves your understanding and professional competency and facilitates your personal and professional development (PDP)
  • it helps you to make your thinking and learning explicit, allows you and others to see how your learning process develop over time
  • Questioning and exploration helps you to challenge the sense and meaning of the given context and to construct an alternative context with new meaning, leading to successful expansion (Engeström,2001)
  • it will help you to understand possible emotions, anxieties involved in your learning process

5. How will it be graded?

  • At the beginning I will let you know if your reflecting writing is adequate and if you passed and I will provide you feedback during the process of reflective writing, so you have the chance to improve your writing.
  • you will lose points for poor, inadequate or haphazard reflection and gain points for excellent reflection following the learning cycle
  • Later I will assign two grades for reflective writing. One for an overall grade for all your reflective writing and one for e.g. four sources of written evidence

[431 words]

Further reading
University of Ulster (2010) ‘Hybrid learning model’. Available online: (accessed 14 April 2010).

Meta-learns card Meta-learns key adjectives for teacher and learner

Moon, J. (2005) ‘Guide for busy academics no. 4: learning through reflection’ (online), The Higher Education Academy. Available from: (accessed 05 October  2010).

Engeström, Y. (2001) ‘Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization’ Journal of Education and Work [online], vol. 14, no.1. Available from (accessed 9 March 2010).

University of Portsmouth (2010) ‘Reflective writing: a basic introduction’. Available online:,73259,en.pdf (accessed 06 October 2010).

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