Hi there, in this lesson we're going to discuss the idea of reflective writing.
First, we'll define what it is, and then explore the idea of critical
reflective writing at university using an example.
In order to discuss what reflective writing is,
it's useful to first define what we mean by reflection.
Mezirow suggests that reflection is a turning back on experience.
That is, we engage in reflection whenever we think back on or about an event or
an experience, or even when we engage with the simple awareness of an object.
That means actively thinking about what we've learned and the process of learning.
When we engage in this kind of reflection,
we're doing what Flavel would classify as metacognition.
We're gaining an awareness and
understanding of our own process of learning.
Another way to think of this is that it is, in part, critical self reflection.
We think about how we think.
So how, when, and why do we use reflection at university?
Firstly, reflection can be a study habit for individual students.
In fact, Mezirow suggests that critical reflection is a cornerstone of
adult learning, and key to being able to think independently.
This means that you, as a student,
critically reflect both on what you've learned and how you're learning.
You could reflect on anything, from your study habits, to the way your ideas and
attitudes are changing, or the gaps in your knowledge or
skills that you need to fill.
This kind of reflection, or
metacognition, encourages learner autonomy and will make you a better learner.
Boyd and Fales suggest that reflection occurs
when you think about an experience or event that revealed an area of concern.
For example, for a medical student, the experience might a clinical error
that might have revealed a lack of knowledge about a disease.
Or it might have uncovered a personal assumption or
bias that a student had towards a patient.
It might even highlight a personal tendency,
such as being too quick to jump to conclusions.
Reflecting on the experience and
area of concern thus enables you to better understand yourself and
your own gaps in knowledge, assumptions, and biases or thought processes.
Next, in the significance stage, you analyze why it happened.
You might draw on or question prior learning or relevant theory and
research in order to contextualize the concern.
If, for example, it was revealed that the medical student made an error due to
a lack of knowledge about a particular disease, they would then need to discuss
how they would overcome this difficulty in the future.
Simply looking up and
learning more about the particular disease doesn't solve the core problem.
It is impractical to assume that medical professions
will know everything about every disease and medication.
So, a good perfection would also discuss this issue, and
then consult theory and research into how medical professionals overcome it.
Of course, this is usually a difficult process.
You need to be honest about your failings,
to admit faults, or things you find particularly difficult.
As Brookfield suggests,
becoming aware of the implicit assumptions that frame how we think and act
is one of the most puzzling intellectual challenges we face in our lives.
In this way, reflective writing is both subjective and objective.
It's subjective because you're talking about your personal experiences,
thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and you often use I.
On the other hand, it's objective because you need to treat those experiences,
thoughts, beliefs and opinions like any other argument.
Something that can be analyzed and deconstructed to reveal new truths.
And finally, while the written aspect to a reflection is probably more particular to
universities, critical reflection is definitely not.
Some of the most common interview questions for jobs are focused on
identifying personal strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures.
In fact, look at any advice page for interviews, and
you'll find people stressing the need to find examples of specific instances.
How you dealt with them, and what you've learned about
dealing with those situations, about yourself or about the field.
While you may not need to draw on theory and
research to back up what you're saying, the principle is still the same.
You need to be critically reflective.
Of course, this is something that applies to all the skills we've been discussing on
Being a critical and reflective thinker is not just a hat you put on
when you walk into a tutorial or a lecture hall.
It's something that you are and do every time you engage with new information or
a new argument.
Whether it's published in an academic journal article,
a friend's social media post, or a tabloid magazine.
Using these skills is how we grow and learn throughout our whole lives.
In an era of information overload, our need to learn how to critically evaluate the growing flood of information has never been greater. Critical Reflection showcases the role of reason in a world saturated by media-enhanced persuasion and complex scientific and technological jargon. Drawing from the classic philosophical texts, this engaging textbook on the art of analyzing arguments is also relevant to today's undergraduates in its use of real-life examples and exercises drawn mainly from media and politics. Malcolm Murray and Nebojsa Kujundzic cover the standard subjects in a one-semester course on critical thinking, offering ways to analyze arguments in the following areas: * language use * acceptability conditions for truth * categorical and propositional logic * induction * causal claims * probability reasoning * analogical reasoning * an in-depth analysis of informal fallacies Critical Reflection further distinguishes itself with in-depth answers to chapter exercises that are incorporated directly into the authors' detailed discussions. This is an ideal textbook to help professors foster autonomous thinking among their students.