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“An unexamined life is not

worth living”

Reflective writing
Daren Mansfield
Socrates at his trial
Practising critical reflection

 ‘Critically reflect on how your perspective of marketing has changed as a
result of this module and what responsibility in marketing means to you’
 - To aid with this assignment you are to make weekly entries into a
reflective journal of approximately 100 words per week.
 - You can record your own observations on how the material covered is
demonstrated in the world around you and your feelings in response to
the module; your viewpoints, any surprises and challenges etc.
 - This journal is NOT assessed – but you may draw upon it in the
assessment.
aims & objectives
what is reflection?
explore a critical incident
plan and develop structure
models of reflective analysis (choices)
appropriate language
importance of being critical
conclusions and bibliography
These Reflective Writing slides are available on
http://businesslibrarian.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/
why reflect?

purpose of reflection is to demonstrate
that you are learning, learn from
experience, and embed your
experience to personally and
professionally develop in an ethos of
continuous improvement.
what is self reflection?

Self reflection is like looking into a mirror and describing
what you see. It is a way of assessing yourself, your ways of
working and how you study. To put it simply ‘reflection’
means to think about something. Reflecting and
composing a piece of self reflective writing is becoming an
increasingly important element to any form of study or
learning.

(Open University, 2016)
http://www.open.ac.uk/choose/unison/develop/my-skills/self-reflection
explore a critical incident

what happened to you today?
how did you react to events?
what were the consequences?
could your responses improve in future?
how should you move on?

(adapted from McMillan & Weyers, 2013, 8)
identifying your critical incident

TASK: describe your critical incident & why it
was important to you, what conclusions can
be drawn, what theories can be applied to
lead to greater understanding?
REFLECT: does it challenge your
understanding, are there gaps in your self-
knowledge & what should change?
You are working with a colleague whom
you do not particularly like. Their manner
is patronizing and you feel that they know
they are making you unhappy. You are
not sure if you are being bullied, or if you
are overreacting, but you know how their
behaviour, and your reaction to it, is
making you feel.
(Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 82)
Hargreaves and
Page, 2013, 79
reflective writing has two key features:
integrates theory and practice, are the theories
helpful?
what did you learn from the experience?
case study: personal account of critical incident
where feelings are explored AND applied academic
material. Reflector demonstrated thorough
understanding of Graham and Schieles’ (2010)
critique of racial discrimination and achieved
resolution through enacting ‘shame free and blame
free culture’ (Kiekkas, 2011).
recording the reflective process

a reflective journal entry
a text on your mobile
an essay
a Twitter, blog or Facebook entry
a formal report or professional
account
(Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 84).
a) Structure: planning process

 Discuss your reflections with others to deepen your insight,
improve your ability to express your ideas and help to explore a
range of perspectives.
 Collect evidence. There are two sources of evidence which
need to be used in reflective writing assignments:
Your reflections form essential evidence. Keep notes on
developments that have occurred during the process.
Use academic evidence from published case studies and
theories to show how your ideas and practices have
developed in the context of the relevant academic
literature.
b) Structure: beginning
 Avoid writing a long narrative describing what happened, as you will then
run out of space to analyse why it happened.
 Reflect upon the experience before you start to write, although additional
insights are likely to emerge throughout. Discuss with a friend or colleague and
develop your insight.
 Select relevant examples which illustrate the reflective process; choose a few
of the most challenging or puzzling incidents and explore why they are
interesting and what you have learnt from them.
 Top tip: Start with the points you want to make, then select examples to
back up your points, from your two sources of evidence - i) your
experiences and ii) theories, published case studies, or academic articles.
 Use the reflective learning cycle to structure your writing (see Gibbs, 1988).
essay planning using reflection (Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 74).
c) Structure: what, so what & now what?
 What? (description)
 What was the event? When? Where? Who was involved?
 So what? (interpretation)
 What is most important aspect of the event/idea/situation?
 Why did this occur?
 How can the event and your feelings be explained?
 Could anything have gone differently?
 How do the stages of the event relate to each other?
 Is this event/feeling similar to/different from others that you or other people have
experienced?
 Now what? (outcome)
 What have I learned?
 What are the implications for my future practice (would anything be done
differently)? (Hargreaves and Page, 2013, 35)
appropriate language
 normally appropriate to use the first person ('I') but you are likely to
need to write both in the first person ("I felt…") and in the third
person ("Smith, 2009) proposes that …"). Identify which parts of your
experience you are being asked to reflect on and use this as a
guide to when to use the first person.
 produce a balance by weaving together sections of 'I thought… 'I
felt,…' and the relevant academic theories. This is more effective
than having a section which deals with the theory and a separate
section dealing with your experiences.
 when writing about your reflections use the past tense as you are
referring to a particular moment (I felt…). When referring to theory
use the present tense as the ideas are still current (Smith proposes
that...).
 avoid emotive or subjective terms
(Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 32)
critically analyse the event

analyse: 'to look at all sides of an issue, break a topic
down into parts and explain how these components
fit together' using academic references and theories
to underpin your argument and understanding
(McMillan & Weyers, 2013, 270).
in an academic context, your tutors will expect you
be 'self-aware, analytical and able to situate your
thoughts in the relevant academic and professional
context' (McMillan & Weyers, 2013, 8)
transformative reflection
Mezirow believed that critical reflection can be the
trigger to ‘transformative learning’, reflection as a
form of thinking, assessing assumptions on which our
thoughts and decisions are based, we can really
critique, confront our actions, more deeply
(Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 29).
Schön’s (1991) ‘reflection in action’: after the event,
you look back and re-visit your actions; time has
passed and your thoughts and feelings have
changed (Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 55).
conclusion

Your opportunity to remind your reader of what
you have written about & draw your writing to
a close.
You should not introduce any new points.
What are the main points that you have made
you want the reader to take away?
Is there something in particular that you have
learnt?
Are there any actions to be taken?
golden rules for reflective writing
write only things that you know to be true: if you are
unsure, say so (I think she may have meant; I
understood him to say that. . .)
anonymize people and places, but if you are
required to name individuals, write with the
expectation that the person will see what you have
written; imagine them reading the actual words you
have written.
store your writing securely.
(Hargreaves and Page, 2013).
still doubt yourself?

 review your draft, highlight your main points &
search databases to use those keywords to find
scholarly articles.
 you will become more confident in expressing
your understanding, develop your argument &
sharpen your professional insight.
using the library: ‘reflective writing learning
business’
Academic Writing
Databases Support
 SAGE Premier (61,945  aws@lincoln.ac.uk
results)
 AWS offers 1-1 support,
 ABI Inform full-text (12,051 results) drop-in sessions &
 Emerald Insight (25,937 results) bookable appointments
 Science Direct (7,467 results)  Daren Mansfield
 Full text Advanced Search on  dmansfield@lincoln.ac.uk
library.lincoln.ac.uk (84,666 results)
what I learned was….
 Need for openness, honesty, & authenticity to develop
professional practice. But does your environment encourage such
behaviour?
 Literature explores the difficulties with assessment: that students
perceive what is acceptable to get the best marks (Hargreaves,
2004). ‘Eating humble pie’ and ‘toeing the line’ (Macfarlane &
Gourlay, 2009) may lead to conformist rather than thoughtful and
critical enquiry, and ‘strategic reflection’ (Hobbs, 2007). Barley
refers to assessment as potentially ‘a process of atonement rather
than learning’ (Barley, 2012, 277) and Ross alerts us to the
additional challenges faced when reflecting in digital forms
which add a new dimension of surveillance and control (Ross,
2011).
final advice
• to record your reflection truthfully
• to confront painful and difficult things
• to celebrate your success
• to work openly with other people

(Hargreaves & Page, 2013, 78)
B Banks, S. & Gallagher, A. (2009). Ethics in Professional Life: Virtues for Health and Social Care.
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

I Barley, M. (2012). Learning from reflective practice and metacognition – an anaesthetist’s
perspective. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 13(2), 271–80.

B Brockbank, A. & McGill, I. (2003). Facilitating reflective learning n higher education.
Buckingham: Open University Press.

L Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford:
Oxford Polytechnic, Further Education Unit.

I Hargreaves, J. (2004). So how do you feel about that? Assessing reflective practice. Nurse
Education Today, 24(3), 196–201.

O Hargreaves, J. & Page, L. (2013). Reflective practice. Cambridge: Polity.
Hobbs, V. (2007). Faking it or hating it: can reflective practice be forced? Reflective Practice,

G 8(3), 405–17.
Honey, P. & Mumford, A. (1992). The Manual of Learning Styles. Maidenhead : Peter Honey.

R Macfarlane, B. & Gourlay, L. (2009). The reflection game: enacting the penitent self. Teaching in
Higher Education, 14(4), 455–9.

A Macionis, J. J. (2010). Sociology. Boston: Pearson Education.
McMillan, K. A. & Weyers, J. D. B. (2013). How to improve your critical thinking and reflective skills.

P Harlow : Prentice Hall.
Ross, J. (2011). Traces of self: online reflective practices and performances in higher education.

H Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 113–26.
Schön, D. A. (1991). The reflective practitioner : how professionals think in action. Aldershot:

Y Ashgate.