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Reflection and reflective writing

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1 Reflection and reflective writing
This is a collection of slides that I use in the generic Study Development workshop BUT it is not a coherent workshop per se: I select from the slides and structure the workshop according to who is there and why. Please feel free to select any slides you find useful, change them to suit your context and add your own material. Different activities can be added – some of the hand-outs in the adaptable materials on Reflection offer possible activities to use. (A couple of the slides with text in red indicate activities I often use – they can be found on the hand-outs indicated on the slides.) Chris Doye Institute for Academic Development University of Edinburgh November 2012

2 What is reflection? Exploration / examination of ourselves and our actions (often written but also spoken) considered rational, unemotional* in relation to theory / wider context / other perspectives Why do it? to develop understanding / learning / skills and give us a path by which to move forward *(even though it often deals with feelings, reactions and emotions) * Although emotions/feelings, attitudes etc may play a significant role in WHAT we are reflecting upon

3 The basics: Experience Reflection Action

4 Borton’s (1970) cue questions:
What? So what? Now what? (Cited in Jasper, 2003, p.99)

5 What does that mean? Describing event or process
So what? Now what? Describing event or process Future goals and actions Thinking and analysis Drawing conclusions

6 Contexts and purposes Episode / experience/ process Critical incident
Short/specific e.g. lesson we have taught, procedure we have carried out Longer process e.g. project work, group work, course, client-practitioner relationship Critical incident Positive or negative Our own development, e.g. skills, strengths, challenges (may also be required for education or work)

7 What is a critical incident?
Something that happened that is, in some way, significant For you personally, Or in a wider context and that you can learn from by considering it more deeply It does not have to be earth-shattering It can be either positive or negative

8 Skills involved Self-awareness Description / factual reporting
Critical analysis Synthesis Evaluation (Atkins and Schutz, 2008, p.26) Self-awareness is the main skill that is not usual in other academic writing.

9 Preparing: Focused free write
This technique can help you to start thinking freely about something. Start from the incident, experience, process you want to reflect on Write for minutes without stopping, just following your train of thought as if you are talking to yourself on paper Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation or anything else If you wander off the topic, don’t worry, just bring yourself gently back When the time is up, skim through for any interesting/useful words, phrases, ideas or thoughts The idea of free writing, from which focused free writing is adapted, was popularised by Peter Elbow (1973) The hand-outs referred to here are ‘reflection getting started’ and ‘dialogue prompt reflection activities’

10 Exploring experience and perspective
Look at the hand-outs Try one of the techniques (you will not be asked to share what you have actually produced) Share with the group Which activity did you choose? What are your reactions to doing it?

11 Reflective journal At the time Later reflection
Write a description as you see things now Include your feelings Note down anything you might want to refer to as ‘evidence’ Note questions or things you might want to explore if they occur to you Later reflection Look back objectively at what you wrote Compare you now with then: changes? Ask & answer critical questions Relate to wider context Justify what you say Learning & moving forward This is usually for longer term things, keeping track over time. (Or you may use PebblePad or other online forms)

12 Reflective writing assignments
May use specific model and follow that structure Usually follows basic phases Descriptive (who? what? where? when?) Analytical & interpretive (why? how? so?) Looking forward (where/what now?) cf Borton (earlier) Or, more complex, e.g. Gibbs

13 More structured e.g. Gibbs (1988)
Description Feelings Evaluation Analysis Conclusion Action plan (Cited in Jasper, p.77 but, N.B. she puts description instead of analysis!)

14 Description Ability to give effective account > others understand what happened as you saw it: Pick relevant, significant detail: right amount Writing = clear, concise, well structured Objective rather than emotional: thoughts & feelings are recorded rather than colouring account

15 Critical analysis/ evaluation
Aims for deeper understanding Breaking down into constituent parts Identifying positives / negatives/ issues Identifying and challenging assumptions (self & other) Making connections (other experience, learning) Relating to external sources, e.g. Theory, research, case studies, wider social/political/economic context

16 Levels of reflection: 1 Hatton and Smith's (1995) four levels of reflection, summarised by Gillett et al. as: descriptive writing (a straightforward account of events) descriptive reflection (an account with reasons, justifications and explanation for the events) dialogic reflection (the writer begins to stand back from the account and analyse it) critical reflection (the writer puts their account into a broader perspective). (Gillett et al., 2009, p.165)

17 Levels of reflection: 2 Goodman’s 3 levels (1984) often referred to – roughly equate to: Largely descriptive; looking at practical things in terms of responsibility, accountability, efficiency .. Moving out from your particular experiences – relationship between theory and practice; broader implications, issues, values.. Broadening out to consider implications in context of ethical / social / political influences (Goodman, 1984, cited in Jasper, 2003, pp.72-75)

18 Graduate attributes

19 Edinburgh Award Employers want graduates: who are self-aware,
who capitalise on their strengths, who will have impact wherever they work, who are committed to personal development and life-long learning, and who can confidently provide evidence for these claims. And that’s where the Edinburgh Award comes in…

20 Edinburgh Award: CARL For reflecting on the skills/abilities you wanted to develop during the Award: Context – What is the context, e.g. what was your role and what was the skill you wanted to develop (and why)? Action – In that context, what did you do to work towards developing the skill? Result & Learning – What were the outcomes of your actions? What went well? What stretched you? What didn’t work? What did you learn as a result? Why does it matter to you? How does it influence how you would approach something similar in the future? For reflecting on the impact you had during the Award: Context – What is the context, e.g. what was your role, its purpose and in what areas you were trying to develop personally? Action – In that context, what did you do to try to have an impact? Result & Learning – What were the outcomes of your actions? What impact did you have on the people and/or organisation(s) around you?

21 References Atkins, S. and Schutz, S. (2008) 'Developing the skills for reflective practice', in Bulman, C. and Schutz, S. (eds.) Reflective practice in nursing. 4th edn. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing, pp Elbow, P. (1973) Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford University Press Gillett, A., Hammond, A. and Martala, M. (2009) Successful academic writing. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. Jasper, M. (2003) Beginning reflective practice. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd Moon, J.(2006) Learning Journals: A Handbook for Reflective Practice and Development. (2nd edn.) London: Routledge These cover powerpoint and handouts

22 Websites for further information
The University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Award: Reflective writing, university of Portsmouth:

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