Reflective practice is a cyclical process. Start by thinking about and describing an event or issue that you need to address.

Reflective Journal



The Reflective Journal


A simple definition of reflection is:[1]

A form of mental processing – a form of thinking – that we use to fulfil a purpose or to achieve some anticipated outcome. It is applied to relatively complicated or unstructured ideas for which there is no obvious solution.


Reflective practice is a cyclical process. Start by thinking about and describing an event or issue that you need to address. Then reflect on the event or issue by considering things such as what has led to it, how you feel about it and how you can explain what has happened (here theory or prior learning may be useful). The next step is to apply what you have learnt by this reflection to your own practice; you should plan future action based on what you have learned from your experience and your reflection.


The purpose of a reflective journal is to encourage and enable students to analyse their experience reflexive practice. Reflection is essential to continued life learning and effective professional development. It enables the student and practitioner to grow, improve and develop skills.


The reflective journal enables students to describe and evaluate their learning experience and to identify areas for self-improvement. Reflective writing is different from the usual style of academic writing. The following are some guidelines that may assist you to develop your reflective writing.


Reflective writing should not be merely descriptive

While reflective writing may contain some descriptive elements, what is required is more than merely describing an event. What is required will vary depending on the particular piece of assessment, but is likely to involve a consideration of what has happened and why, what you have learnt (either about yourself or in relation to future action) and what should happen next. You should refer to the instructions and criteria for the particular piece of assessment for guidance.



Write in the first person

Because reflective writing involves constructing your knowledge (i.e. your learning) through your own experience and your reflection upon that experience, it will be useful to write in the first person (“I”).  The usual rule of academic writing to avoid the first person should be ignored.


Your reflections should be based on your own experience. It will be useful to refer to the criteria sheet for the assessment so you know the basis on which your reflections will be assessed. You are encouraged to include


The journal comprises three parts:


Students are required to complete a reflective journal. This enables students to describe and evaluate their learning experience throughout the project and to identify areas for self-improvement.

The journal comprises three parts:

  • An overview of what you understand reflection in a professional setting to mean / involve. How and why reflection is a useful skill and tools to use in your professional life.


  • A report and evaluation of the team work component of the project. This should include identifying at least one critical incident which illustrate what you learnt about working in teams, what you learnt from other disciplines in teams and how that has impacted on your professional development (critical incidents can be positive or negative, an interesting interaction or an ordinary everyday experiences but which prompt personal development or understanding)


  • What was the context of the incident?
  • Describe what happened.
  • What made the incident ‘critical’ (significant) for you?
  • What were the key issues/themes within the critical incident?
  • How did you deal with the incident?
  • Why did you intervene/react as you did?
  • What were you trying to achieve?
  • What were your concerns at the time?
  • What were you thinking about as it was taking place?
  • What were your feelings during and after the incident?
  • What help/support and feedback were needed? Did you receive this?
  • What were the consequences of the incident (for self, clients, colleagues)?
  • What might you do differently next time something similar occurs?
  • How might this incident influence your future practice in the workplace?


  • An Overall Reflection on how your professional identity has developed throughout the project.

Some questions/points to help guide you:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What might you need to improve?
  • What have you learnt about the industry/organisation?




Suggested reading:

Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. In English, L. M. and Gillen, M.

  1. (Eds.) Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education. New Directions in Adult and Continuing

Education No. 90. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 9-18.

[1] Moon, J. A. (1999). Reflection in learning and professional development. London: Kogan Page Limited, p10.


Academic LevelCollege (1-2 years: Freshmen, Sophomore)
Subject AreaMulti-Disciplinary Project
Paper Type Reflective essay
Number of Pages5 Page(s)/1375words
Paper FormatMLA
SpacingDouble spaced

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