Writing Reflective Assignments

By: Lynette Pretorius

Hi. In this quick video I will describe reflective writing for academic assignments. Before I talk about reflective writing however, it is necessary to first talk about what reflection is and why you are asked to reflect in your assignments. Reflection refers to the ability to analyse and evaluate personal experiences and actions to promote self-discovery and growth. You are being asked to incorporate reflection into your assignments for three reasons: Firstly, reflection allows you to synthesise academic knowledge with personal and professional experience. As you can see on the picture, effective reflective thinking involves the interplay between personal and professional experiences, emotions, textbook and lecture knowledge, and theory and research from academic literature. Secondly, regular reflection helps you to better understand new knowledge that you learned in the classroom. Finally, reflection can help you to make sense of problems or dilemmas that you may face, helping you to learn from those situations. Regular reflection therefore fosters life-long learning. In reflective assignments you are asked to write about your own experiences, linking these experiences with theory.

These assignments usually require you to describe a particular episode that you experienced in the past, and then ask you to link this experience to the theory you have discussed in class and the themes you have read in the literature. The example on the slide shows a few sentences from an assignment. As you can see, the author here interweaves personal experiences with a theory from a research article. In this way the author is able to describe how their personal upbringing helped to foster their love of learning, leading to the choice to become a teacher in adulthood. In the example you can see that the author uses personal pronouns such as “I” and “me or my” when discussing personal experiences. This is a feature of reflective writing. It is important to note though that the sections that talk about the literature do not contain personal pronouns. In fact, that part of the paragraph is written in an academic style of writing. This is the challenge when writing reflective assignments – you have to interweave an academic writing style with a more personal writing style. So how do you write a well-written reflective assignment? Firstly, you include your personal experiences in your writing, clearly explaining the situation you encountered. Secondly, you link these experiences with the theory you discussed in your classroom and the literature in the field.

Finally, you demonstrate what you learned from these experiences, and how you will incorporate this new understanding in the future.

Writing Reflective Assignments

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