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How to write a reflective account

Guidelines on practising in-depth reflective writing

Select two or more learning experiences, either from your studies or if possible one from a work-related or practice-based situation, and write a reflective account on each. (You can use the documents below to prompt your accounts.) The final page should be used to write reflectively about the progress of your dissertation/project.

Reflective writing requires practice and constant standing back from oneself – at Masters level you should be aiming for the following:

  • WritingPractise writing on the same event/incident through different people’s viewpoints anddisciplines. Consider to what extent other people involved might still be reacting to it.
  • Develop deepening reflection through self-questioning, and discuss issues arising with others, perhaps with your tutor, colleague, or fellow-student.
  • Try to develop your reflective writing to include the ethical, moral, historical and socio-political context
  • Acknowledge the impact of prior experience on behaviour, and that perceptions of an event can change according to emotions at the time, acquisition of new information/ideas, and the effect of time passing
  • Prioritise and reflect on the learning points from an incident, what is the theoretical stance and how you would do something differently another time.
  • Make sound judgments about your performance with reference to external standards or criteria.

Remember that reflective practice is an important skill which is strongly encouraged  in the workplace and by many professions. As you become used to reflecting on your work retrospectively, it will become easier to reflect in and for practice, i.e. communicate and work in a more thoughtful and purposeful way.

(With acknowledgements to Pete Watton, Jane Collings, Jenny Moon, ‘Reflective Writing’ University of Exeter, 2001, including refs. to Gibbs 1988 and Kolb 1984)

Keeping a reflective diary

NB. You may instead signpost here to other existing evidence such as a reflective journal or account based on professional practice.

Documents for completion:

Document to complete Practising Reflection


Document to complete Practice writing reflectively on an academic experience


Document to complete Practice writing reflectively on work-based learning


Document to complete Practice writing reflectively on how you are managing the progress of your dissertation or project

Document to completePersonal Learning Diary


A number of theoretical models have been devised to illustrate cycles of reflection. Gibbs' Model of Reflection is an example of these.

  Practising In-Depth Reflection
  How to write a reflective account
  Practising in-depth reflection - Gibbs' Model of Reflection

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