I always enjoyed reflective assignments because I had the opportunity to write in first person (i.e., using “I” and “myself” statements). And it was fun to scout for references that backed up my claims, it really brought home to me that my interpretation of life was not brought about in a vacuum.
I am a being embedded in my culture, and geography and historical time play a large part in how I draw the conclusions that I do about information.
At university or college it is not unusual for an assignment task to be a reflective assignment, or reflective writing exercise. This is more likely if you are taking a health care or social care subject, such as education, psychology, nursing or management.
The role of reflective writing or journaling is to “Reflection is indicative of deep learning and where teaching and learning activities such as reflection are missing… only surface learning can result” (Biggs 1999 in King 2002 cited in
Higher learning levels require that a professional can critically reflect on their decisions and behaviours. Reflection is a process and so it can be acquired and adapted as necessary. PDP has an essential reflective element. Maintaining a journal helps the student-professional to develop data recording skills, gain observational practice, and maintain guidance from latest theories and models and to develop analytical skills that enhance the ability to argue convincingly.
Having a clearer idea of who you are as a person and as a professional highlights your strengths and areas of challenge. You gain a better idea of the direction you are headed in, how and when to change course, and what you need to reach your destinations.
Analysing life experiences and choices provides the foundation for future learning. Developing the ability to think critically enhances academic writing and presentations. As an independent learner, the reflective person has the advantage of being able to cultivate these skills by taking responsibility for their disappointments and seeking ways to enhance their professional competence.
It is evident from research that a clear links exist between action, reflection and change.
If you want real change, reflect.
One model to explain the reflective process is the Action-Reflection Model, see Figure 1 below.
First there is the initial or novel experience. Next there is a period for reflection and observation of choices made and actions taken. This contributes to the development of a new concept or attitude. Experimentation is the way in which experiences are re-lived or new ones occur, which sets the cycle in motion again.
Looking at the model from this ‘bird’s eye’ angle implies a cyclical process, though more accurately it is a spiral, moving upwards and outwards, see Figure 2.
Reflection-in-Action occurs when you actively think about what you are doing/experiencing, as it happens. So, you consciously assess and make changes in-the-moment.
For a person who is prefers structure and predictability in life, self-reflection is a challenging process. For others, unfamiliar territory is a place to improvise and adapt to the conditions, and so they are more open to the process of reflection-in-action.
Ways of doing things, at work, university or in our personal lives can become ritualised and automatic. We no longer think about what we are doing and why.
You can read more about this process in an article by Rob Clark, here
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