The Learning Centre • http://www. lc. unsw. edu. au A great deal of your time university will be spent thinking; thinking about what people have said, what you have read, what you yourself are thinking and how your thinking has changed. It is generally believed that the thinking process involves two aspects: reflective thinking and critical thinking. They are not separate processes; rather, they are closely connected (Brookfield 1987). Justify actions • Solve problems Deeper meaning • Changes Assumptions • Attitudes Values • Beliefs Revisit experiences Critical Thinking You Reflective Thinking Figure 1: The Thinking Process (adapted from Mezirow 1990, Schon 1987, Brookfield 1987) Reflective thinking Reflection is a form of personal response to experiences, situations, events or new information. It is a ‘processing’ phase where thinking and learning take place. There is neither a right nor a wrong way of reflective thinking, there are just questions to explore. Figure 1 shows that the reflective thinking process starts with you. Before you can begin to assess the words and ideas of others, you need to pause and identify and examine your own thoughts.
This involves revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring. It also involves considering how and why you think the way you do. The examination of your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions forms the foundation of your understanding. Reflective thinking demands that you recognise that you bring valuable knowledge to every experience. It helps you therefore to recognise and clarify the important connections between wh...
at you already know and what you are learning. It is a way of helping you to become an active, aware and critical learner.
What is reflective writing? Reflective writing is: • • • • • • • • • • • • • your response to experiences, opinions, events or new information your response to thoughts and feelings a way of thinking to explore your learning an opportunity to gain self-knowledge a way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning a chance to develop and reinforce writing skills a way of making meaning out of what you study just conveying information, instruction or argument pure description, though there may be descriptive elements straightforward decision or judgement (e. g. bout whether something is right or wrong, good or bad) simple problem-solving a summary of course notes a standard university essay Reflective writing is not: Why are we asked to do this type of assignment? • To make connections The idea behind reflective writing is that what you learn at university builds on your prior knowledge, whether it is formal (e. g. education) or informal (e. g. gained through experience). Reflective writing helps you develop and clarify the connections between what you already know and what you are learning, between theory and practice and between what you are doing and how and why you do it.
Writing Style As it concerns your thoughts, reflective writing is mostly subjective. Therefore in addition to being reflective and logical, you can be personal, hypothetical, critical and creative. You can comment based on your experience, rather than limiting yoursel
to academic evidence. • Reflective writing is an activity that includes description (what, when, who) and analysis (how, why, what if). It is an explorative tool often resulting in more questions than answers.
A reflective task may allow you to use different modes of writing and language: • To examine your learning processes Reflective writing encourages you to consider and comment on your learning experiences—not only WHAT you’ve learned, but HOW you did so. • • To clarify what you are learning Reflecting helps you to clarify what you have studied, integrate new knowledge with previous knowledge, and identify the questions you have and what you have yet to learn. descriptive (outlining what something is or how something was done) v explanatory (explaining why or how it is like that) v expressive (I think, I feel, I believe) • • • Use full sentences and complete paragraphs You can usually use personal pronouns like ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘we’ Keep colloquial language to a minimum (eg, kid, bloke, stuff) • To reflect on mistakes and successes
Reflecting on mistakes can help you avoid repeating them. At the same time, reflecting on your discoveries helps identify successful principles to use again. To become an active and aware learner • To become a reflective practitioner once you graduate and begin your professional life Types of reflective writing assignments Journal: requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content. Learning diary: similar to a journal, but may require group participation. The diary then becomes a place for you to communicate in writing with other group members. Log book: often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. You note down or ‘log’ what you have done.
A log gives you an accurate record of a process and helps you reflect on past actions and make better decisions for future actions. Reflective note: often used in law. A reflective note encourages you to think about your personal reaction to a legal issue raised in a course. Essay diary: can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes). Peer review: usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback. Self-assessment: requires you to to comment on your own work.
How do I write reflectively? What can I discuss? • • • • • Your perceptions of the course and the content. Experiences, ideas and observations you have had, and how they relate to the course or topic. What you found confusing, inspiring, difficult, interesting and why. Questions you have and conclusions you have drawn. How you solved a problem, reached a conclusion, found an answer or reached a point of understanding. Possibilities, solutions. speculations, hypotheses or • • • Alternative interpretations or different perspectives on what you have read or done in your course.
Comparisons and connections between what your are learning and: v your prior knowledge and experience; v your prior assumptions and preconceptions; v what you
- Learning Styles
- Albert Camus
- Cognitive Psychology
- Critical Thinking
- Form Of The Good
- Human Nature
- Immanuel Kant
- John Dewey
- Maria Montessori
- Michel Foucault
- Personality Type
- Philosophy Of Life
- Philosophy Of Mind
- Rene Descartes
- Self Esteem
- Self Reflection
- Self Reliance
- Sigmund Freud
- Thomas Hobbes