How Do I Write a Good Personal Reflection?
Australian Expert Writers
AUGUST 14, 2011 BY NICOLE FELEDY
First it is useful to clarify, ‘what is a personal reflection?’ As is the case with most reflective writing, a Personal Reflection is a response to a particular stimulus. Often, it is written by an individual to explore personal experiences, feelings and events. A personal reflection is an opportunity to reconsider events, thoughts and feelings from a fresh perspective. Many blog posts are written in this style. However you may also be required to write a Personal Reflection within an academic context.
In many classroom situations, personal reflections are usually a response to what you’re studying. For example, you may be required to offer a personal reflection on a piece of reading or during examinations. In these cases, examiners want to gauge how successfully you can interact with a text (previously seen and unseen).
You need to show that you can evaluate ideas and draw a comparison between those ideas, and your own. At other times you may be required to reflect upon your own learning in order to identify then evaluate, which approaches have been helpful or unhelpful. You may also be asked to consider your own role in the learning process.
The key to writing a successful personal reflection is to remember that it is a personal response made by you.
Therefore, your responses are usually different from someone else’s. Your response will be influenced by:
1) Your opinions, beliefs and experiences
2) Similarities or contrasts to your own life (i.e. experiences you can identify with)
3) How real or believable a subject / text is
Even though you have been asked to provide a personal response you will still need to justify your opinion. This means you need to give reasons why you developed your ideas. You can support your response through:
1) Examples from the learning materials, readings, other resources
2) Referring to specific events
3) Referring to specific quotes within the learning materials, readings, other resources
Remember when writing a personal reflection, you are offering your opinions. However you are also demonstrating that you have thought about the issue carefully and, from multiple perspectives. So you need to show the development of your thoughts. For example;
“I used to believe …, however, after considering the effect of … my perception has shifted …. Once seemed obvious that … yet now it is more tempting to ask …. Perhaps …. is an assumption which relies too heavily on … Therefore it may be more accurate to suggest…”
Did you notice that reflective writing requires personal language? Hopefully you also realised that, as much as possible, it is important to minimise the use of the word ‘I’. Instead, use connotation (the emotion or ‘vibe’ of a word) and modality (degree of meaning) to offer your opinions.
Remember a personal review is a critical piece of writing so it is important to write evaluatively. This involves asking questions and proposing reasoned solutions.
Finally, in many ways a writing a personal reflection is similar to writing a Critical Review. In fact, the planning and writing stages required to produce a successful personal reflection will incorporate many of the steps required for a successful critical review (I have listed these steps below). Perhaps the main difference between a personal reflection and a critical review is, when writing a personal reflection you focus on how you interacted
Reflective Writing – Directed Reflection on a Set Theme
Engaging with your readings / resources / ideas / perceptions / experiences / observations – your learning journey with the set quote, related reading/ material/ experiences on a set theme.
Assist you to develop a better understanding of the new area of knowledge you are exploring and insights into yourself in relation to this knowledge.
List of questions that may help you think about the question/ statement for the reflective piece
What did I learn from the reading/ learnings
What did I already know about the topic/concept before the reading?
What surprised me about the reading/ statement? What did this statement/ reading reveal to me?
Are there any other questions that arise from reflecting on the main statement
What connections can I make between the statement ( main reading) and other pieces / resources for this topic
What connections can I make between reading/ concept and personal experience?
How and where might I use my new knowledge and insight?How would I do things in the future
Many students find starter phrases useful when producing a piece of reflective writing…
In this reading, I discovered a number of significant points/ issues ( what are they) and I xxx
At the time that I read, xxx I thought/ felt/ was confused ….
I had thought that xxx , however reading xx has widened/ changed/ re-inforced xxx
This reading /statement has challenged my assumptions, which are xxx, Looking at these now after considering xxx
Having analysed/ thought about the readings/issue, has highlighted the importance of xxxx to me and in the future I intend to xxxx
This reading relates to an experience, xxxx
From this personal/ work/ my xxx experience, I have learnt that xx
From this reading ( xxx) I have learnt that xxxx
This reading / statement has highlighted that I need to xxxx . To address this I intent to xxx
How Do I Write a Good Personal Reflection?