Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Jawad Ali

Reflective writing allows writers to examine and analyse an event or a process and describes the meaning and impact of an occasion in the light of personal experiences. In academics, reflective writing helps researchers to examine their responses to a new experience. Analytical thinking skills are important for using reflective approaches to the critical thinking process in research. What are you writing? Can you impress the readers through your writing?

What are your emotions at the time of writing? Are there some questions that a reflective writer must consider for producing a quality manuscript? In the light of the significance of reflection in academic writing, this article aims to describe different models of reflection, key concepts to be added in reflective writing, uses of reflective models, and steps necessary to write a reflective paper. 

  1. What key aspects should you include in reflective writing?

Reflection is an important skill that almost all undergraduate and graduate students must master. As a matter of course, reflective writing is an analytical practice that includes the real and imaginary scene, event, interaction, memory, and passing thought and adds personal or critical appraisal of things into their meaning. With respect to this definition, writers must have some vital skills like self-awareness, critical analysis, synthesis, evaluation and description.

Moreover, an academic reflective paper must develop a perspective or line of reasoning (a link between the existing knowledge and experience). Additionally, self-questioning, experimenting with new ideas, gathering feedback, and critical evaluation of the experiences or meaning of an event are also among the key aspects that a student must consider in a reflection piece of writing. Besides this, reflective writing must be written in the first person and must be free-flowing, subjective, and analytical. Thus, you can use reflective writing in six types of tasks, including blogging, research process, appraisals, job applications, written feedback, and courses in academic writing and in writing an assignment.   

  • What are different models of reflection?

Reflection is usually done in the form of writing as it allows us to discuss our perspectives, attributes and actions. Yet, conversational reflection between friends, tutors and mentors is a form of reflection. Thus, to give your reflection paper a well-defined and proven structure based on arguments, you can use a number of reflection models. Following is the list of most sought after models of reflection that you can consider for writing reflection in your academic papers:

2.1 Gibbs Reflective Cycle (1988): Sums all the potential stages that one should consider while writing a reflective essay in six steps.

2.2 Kolb Reflective Cycle (1984): Good for a novice researcher. It has four stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation, and active experiments that collectively help researchers in exploring an event by addressing doing, asking how/why, suggesting predictions, and testing.  

2.3 Schol Model (1991): Reflection–on–action and reflection-in-action are the strengths of the Schol Model. It is commonly known as a professional model as most industries use it for drafting a reflection report. 

2.4 Driscoll model (1994): The seven practical steps in the Driscoll model of reflection ask probing or open-ended questions that help researchers in covering all main aspects of reflection.    

2.5 Rolfe et al. Framework for reflective learning (2001): The key features of this model include three main aspects including ‘what’, ‘so what’ and ‘now what’. In Rolfe et al. framework, these questions are asked at three levels: descriptive, action-oriented and theoretical. By using three basic questions at different levels, a novice researcher can write a reflection like a pro.   

2.6 John’s Model for Structured Reflection (2006): It examines events in context to the environment, thus, stated as an organisational model. It gives prompt questions that are easy to be addressed. It is good for exploring empirical, ethical, personal, and aesthetic based knowing. 

2.7 Atkin & Murphy model (1993):  It encourages researchers to consider assumptions based on previous experiences. Its five steps are: 1) Identify any learning, 2) Awareness, 3) Describe the situation, 4) Analyse feeling and knowledge, and 5) Evaluate the relevance of knowledge.  

2.8 Brookfield model (2005): It is often stated as a professional development model. It is extremely helpful if the purpose of the study is to analyse a situation from different perspectives. It explores situations through four lenses: self, peers, students, and scholarship.  

2.9 Mezirow model of transformative learning (1981):

It is a personal development model that critically evaluates your assumptions and deep reflection. It is suitable when an individual wants to keep himself motivated for self-learning.  

  • Uses of reflection in academic writing

Reflection is a vital component of the learning process. In research, reflective writing helps in understanding the form of intelligibility that makes the world more meaningful. In this regard, the reflective cycles and models benefit researchers by strengthening their own thinking and learning practices. Moreover, they give opportunities to the individual to create a link between the previous understanding or experiences and new knowledge. Also, they help in applying specific strategies to new tasks. Therefore, in research or academic writing that aims to make a world more meaningful, reflective writing confers the process in the light of previous experiences, so others can also learn from your past experience. 

  • What are the steps of reflective writing?

Reflective writing includes a number of different components; analysis, description, interpretation, evaluation, and future scope. Thus, for performing these tasks, you can follow the following steps:

Steps 1: Review the assignment brief

Step 2: Generate content-related ideas

Step 3: Organise content

Step 4: Revise, edit and proofread

The review of assignment, task or research goals helps in better understanding of the situation for reflection. Via research, brainstorming and other searching techniques, gathering new ideas and content generation become easy. For organising the content, reflective cycles are better options as they aim to produce a well-organised draft. Last but not the least, revision, editing and proofreading are essential finalising steps in reflective writing like in other writing types.     

Final thoughts: 

Consequently, the process or art of linking previous understanding and new knowledge regarding a situation is known as reflection. Reflection in writing helps researchers in knowing the world in the light of the expert’s experience. Using reflective models, one can better structure and frame an academic task. Finally, reviewing the brief, gathering new content ideas, organising content, and editing, proofreading, revision are the essential steps for reflective writing.