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Academic Skills Essentials: Reflective assignments

Reflective assignments

At university, you might be asked to write a reflection for an assessment task or it may be part of a larger assignment.


Why practise reflective writing?

Reflective writing is becoming an increasingly important aspect of learning because it improves:

  • self-awareness, an element of emotional intelligence
  • your critical thinking skills
  • helps you become a more effective practitioner in your field.


Reflective writing assignments come in a number of different forms such as:

  • A learning journal documenting your reflections on unit materials
  • A portfolio analysing your experiences on a workplace practicum
  • A summary outlining your personal reaction to an issue
  • A peer review critiquing and providing feedback on another student’s work or
  • Self-assessment analysing and evaluating your own work or skills.
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Reflective writing is different from most other types of academic writing as it is based on personal reflection rather than research.

Personal reflection means:
  • thinking deeply about your responses to experiences, situations, events or new information and
  • analysing them in order in order to gain a better understanding and learn from them.

There are several different models which can be used to guide reflective writing. You may be asked to use a particular model or you may be able to choose one.

Generally speaking, all models contain a:
  • Description (which sets the scene so to speak)
  • Interpretation and evaluation (this is where you analyse the situation and draw conclusions)
  • Outcomes (what was the result or what happened as a consequence)
  • Plans for the future (explain what you learnt and what you will do in the future)
Other examples of commonly used models reflective writing models include:
  • Gibbs Reflective Cycle  
  • DIEP model.

For more information, see the Reflective Assignment TipSheet

In reflective writing you should:

  • Adopt a more informal and personal tone but respect the usual conventions of academic writing;
  • Avoid colloquial expressions or slang;
  • Use the first person (I, my) to describe experiences, make observations, and state your opinion or feelings; and
  • Use the language of reflection
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