Comprehensive Guide and Tips on Writing a Reflective Journal

A reflective journal is one of the common writing tasks that instructors assign students as a means of assessing their comprehension of a given reading material or even how aware they are of their surroundings. Basically, reflective journals are intended to express your experience of events, readings and so forth. They are personal accounts of your experience or understanding of a topic, reading, etc.

While reflection essays are not complex, they may once in a while prove challenging. That’s why we often encounter students wondering:

  • What’s a reflective journal?
  • What is the structure of a reflective journal?
  • How do you write a reflective journal?

If this sounds like you, you are one step closer to writing a perfect reflective journal. In this guide, we will explain all there is to be explained about writing a perfect reflective journal that assures you of a perfect grade. But, before then,

Why Should You Write a Reflective Journal?

  1. It offers you an opportunity to review events, readings, etc. critically
  2. It’s an approach of boosting your understanding and remembrance
  3. It allows you to internalize and align your actions with your reflections
  4. It helps you to share ideas

What is the Perfect Structure of a Reflective Journal?

A reflective journal often takes the general structure of an essay: introduction, main body, and conclusion. Below is an exploration of each of these sections.

  1. Introduction

This is where you contextualize your setting, summary of whatever item you are reflecting on. You should describe the activity, setting, event, etc. in detail to create a mental picture of the item of concern on the reader’s mind. In case you are reflecting on a piece of reading, provide its summary and specify your position or thesis on an issue of interest.

  1. Body

This section may contain subsections based on the requirements of your assignment. It should be organized in paragraphs, each covering a specific idea.

The paragraphs should analyze activities, events and so on from a personalized perspective indicating such as how you felt or perceived them. In the case of class readings, you should also show your engagement with the material. Be certain to use a highly personalized approach to show that what you are writing is not basically what you read or observed but also an account of your interaction with the events, activities, reading and so on.

For readings, you may use direct quotes, upon citing the reading, if they help clarify or emphasize a point. Quotes should only be obtained from the material you are reflecting on unless when specified otherwise or when it’s applicable. Nonetheless, direct quotes from other sources should be minimally used.

  1. Conclusion

This section provides a restatement of what you were reflecting on followed by an expression of your perception of a reading material or an appraisal of events or activities. Advisably, end your paper by offering an alternative viewpoint to consider similar events, activities or readings.

Things to Consider While Writing a Reflective Journal

  • Make your presence be known by using a highly personalized approach – be certain to use the first-person voice
  • Don’t just summarize an event or reading
  • Exhibit creativity and critical thinking while writing your journal
  • Don’t generalize your accounts of a reading/activity
  • Show how your reflection has impacted you

How to Reflect Perfectly When Writing a Reflective Journal

Effective reflective writing is founded on understanding of the kind of reflective journal you are dealing with. There are two kinds of reflective writing: on-action and in-action. On-action reflection entails writing a reflective journal after an activity for which you are reflecting on. On the other hand, in-action refers to reflection during an activity for which you are writing about.

In the case of on-action reflection, you think about:

  • What happened
  • What was done
  • What could be done differently and
  • The implications in a critical manner.

In the case of an in-action reflective journal, you note such as:

  • What happened
  • Your experiences and
  • Your take away points.

Students are often required to write an on-action reflection paper. You can be asked for instance to reflect on a lesson, a practicum activity and so forth. While there is minimal difference between in-action and on-action apart from the nature of how it occurs, your instructor’s instructions take precedence on how you approach your paper.

Any reflective journal writing task takes the form of 3-steps:

  1. Your Experience Before the Event

This step entails recalling or observing events involved and describing them. Note aspects such as what you can do to prepare for the exercise, projected challenges and chain of events.

  1. Your Experience During the Experience

This stage involves reflecting and interpreting the events. You should note observed events, whether they align with your presumptions, what are the challenges experienced and how you are dealing with them. Also state whether there are things you can do to have a successful experience in future.

  • Your Experience After the Experience

At this stage, you note what you learned and how you will apply it next. Some of the aspects to consider are your afterthoughts, how the experience influenced your thinking, things you can do differently going forward if any and major take away points.

Writing your journal noting these three aspects, and any other specification in your assignment instructions, assures you of a quality essay paper.

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