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Reflective writing style

Learn about how to write your reflection effectively with guidelines and questions to ask yourself.

Reflective writing style

Learning to write reflectively will equip you with the relevant ethical and analytical ability to benefit from your practical experiences. Reflection may be articulated differently, depending on whether you are speaking or writing about your experiences. There is no right or wrong way to write reflectively!

Reflective writing differs from standard academic writing in that it is more personal in nature. This means that you can use the personal pronoun “I” and talk about your own thoughts and feelings. It is important, however, not to be too casual or conversational. Reflective writing should include essential details, written directly and concisely. Clear examples are very useful. Deeper level reflective writing may also connect with the literature you have been reading, to support or even contradict what you have experienced.

Howatson-Jones, L (2010). Reflecting writing. In Reflective practice in nursing. Exeter; Learning Matters p. 120-121

Guided reflection

Guidelines for keeping a reflective diary/journal & writing up critical reflective incidents

  1. Keep a journal of experiences over the year.
  2. Write up the journal entry/incident.
  3. Below the entry write up your reflections / analysis notes of the situation.
  4. Write up experiences the same day if possible.
  5. Use actual dialogue wherever possible to capture the situation.
  6. Make a habit of writing up at least one experience per work day/shift.
  7. Balance problematic experiences with satisfying experience.
  8. Challenge yourself at least once a day about something that you normally do without thought / take for granted.
  9. Ask yourself 'why do I do that?'  (i.e. make the normal problematic)
  10. Always endeavour to be open and honest with yourself - find the authentic 'you' to do the writing.

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • What did I learn from the situation? 
  • In what way has it assisted my learning to be a health practitioner? 
  • Could the situation have been better managed?

Johns (1992) & Carper (1978) in P. Palmer, S. Burns and C. Bulman, C.,  Reflective practice in nursing (1994). London. Blackwell Scientific Publications. p. 112.