A Guide to Writing a Reflective Report

What does it mean ‘to reflect’? Officially, it means to explore experiences in order to lead to new understandings and improved practice. At its simplest it means: • To think deeply about an experience. To go beyond the simple question, ‘What’s going on here?’ to ask ‘What’s really going on here?’ • To ask yourself what this experience means to you and your practice • To churn ideas, thoughts and experiences around in your head and make connections between what you knew before and what you know now • To express your feelings or insights based on the knowledge you have/theories you have studied. • To be critically analytical as part of this process. This doesn’t mean to criticize, but to look at both sides of an event or experience and comment on the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, good bits and bad bits as part of your new understanding. Schon (1991) speaks of ‘reflecting in action.’ Those are the moments when you are in the middle of an activity or someone says something and you think to yourself, ‘I didn’t know that. That must be why….’ Sometimes these manifest as ‘aha’ moments of new insight. Other times the wires quietly connect and you just seem to realise something new. Capture those thoughts! Schon also speaks of ‘reflecting on action.’ Those are the moments after an activity, event or procedure when you think about what occurred, what you experienced or what others experienced. This type of reflection typically occurs immediately after an event or perhaps later when you are driving home, having a cup of coffee or are in the shower. Capture those thoughts, as you will be making some insightful connections that are the stuff of reflection. A Reflective Report is not: • a description • a list • a series of complaints • a lot of meaningless emotional language

© University of Southampton 2009

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Reflective writing requires evidence of what you have learned and what you will take away from the experience. the activities or events that took place in the given context without being overly descriptive • reflect on these facts by stating how they affect you now or how you anticipate they may affect your future inter-professional practice • where appropriate include theories that support or give structure to your statements and reflections Here are some examples from previous papers of statements made by students. compared to some more fully developed reflective comments: Statement: • I knew I had some pre-conceived ideas about certain professions. thinking they were being reflective. or give an example of. Reflective comment: • I knew I had some pre-conceived ideas about certain professions. However. © University of Southampton 2009 2 .A Reflective Report is: • a considered view. even necessary. in personal terms. Statement: • I had no idea prior to IPL week what Social Workers did. Reflective comment: • My main realization about other health and social care professionals was the way in which interaction between us is completely vital in order for patients to have positive health and social care experiences. In the report you are required to: • refer to. I was seriously mistaken as these students were team players who did not take control but contributed effectively to the same standards as everyone else. your realizations. and my new attitude will no doubt affect my professional relationship with them for the better. of what an activity or new piece of information means to you or how it affects you. your feelings. I now see them in a new light. Statement: • It is vital for health and social care professionals to work together to give the patient a positive experience. to write about yourself. It is acceptable.

I’ll need to remember in the future the importance of setting out the parameters of a session early on so people can feel comfortable. I do feel that we would have taken the time out to establish a set of rules. Statement: • Our group did not set any ground rules. I’m usually shy in groups.Reflective comment: • For example. but especially as a leader. I can see now that this could be useful for me in the future. Reflective statement: • At one point I challenged the leader about how we should present the information. This is something I need to consider as a member of any group. I was eager to get stuck in. Statement: • I came out as a Reflector in the Learning Styles Questionnaire. as I will now know who to contact if I come across a patient needing this type of support. This probably goes for others like me. Reflective comment: • The Learning Styles Questionnaire indicated that my learning style is ‘reflective. Statement: • I challenged the leader who was out of order in my opinion. Reflective comment: • As our group worked well from the start. This is not my usual way of acting. © University of Southampton 2009 3 . I was completely ignorant of the fact that Social Workers are sometimes involved in rehabilitation and long term care and assessment. but once I knew the parameters. Not knowing what was expected of me made me resistant to participation. If things had started to go wrong.’ which I think had something to do with my reluctance to participate in the week. I think I gained the confidence to do this because the group was so friendly and supportive. we never felt the need to establish a written set of ground rules. I surprised myself that I was so bold. that you get the best out of people in a supportive atmosphere.

asking themselves questions such as ‘What’s really going on here?’ and evaluating as they go along. Some useful questions to ask yourself when reflecting on your work. In time we move out of the conscious incompetence stage and move into that unconscious competence that allows us to get on with what we do best not always aware of why or how we do it. Few of us have time to go and write it down. Reflection involves being honest with yourself about your previous ignorance and your new learning. Much reflective thinking takes place in your head. You may well have found yourself reflecting-in-action as you experienced working in the team. Essentially reflection is focused thinking of an evaluative type. lengthy and intent consideration.Some techniques to aid the process of reflection and reflective writing Assignment 3 in IPLU1 week B requires you to be both analytical and reflective. Questions are the key to reflection. contemplation or musing. your experiences of IPL weeks: • What would I do differently next time? • What have I learned about myself from this experience? • Could I avoid this situation another time? • What am I not facing up to in this situation? • What other choices do I have? • What would happen if I did nothing? • What haven’t I asked that I should ask? • What do I hope to achieve by doing that? • What do I feel about this new information? • How does it impact on me? © University of Southampton 2009 4 . however enlightening or hard it was to face. Some people are good at recognising that they are reflecting. Recognising that you are reflecting is a useful realisation. your placements. New situations tend to make us self-aware and we become reflective and self-evaluative. though reflective journals are excellent practice and used widely by professionals and people generally to help them muster their thoughts and feelings and move forward in their life and profession. The Oxford Dictionary says that reflection refers to calm. rather like a competent driver.

2004). Donald A. (2004) Becoming a Reflective Practitioner (2nd ed). Schon. Aldershot: Arena © University of Southampton 2009 5 . C. Blackwell. Oxford. (1991) The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action.• What have I learned about myself? • So what? Johns provides a model of structured reflection with some more useful questions to use when reflecting-in-action and on-action (Johns. REFERENCES Johns.

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