Skills Hub

Reflective writing activities - for tutors

Challenges

Using reflective writing activities can be challenging for tutors. Some possible reasons include:

Different ideas about what reflective writing is 

Uncertainty about how to teach it – which model?

Reflective writing is not always used in a relevant or useful way

Lack of student engagement 

Benefits

Many tutors have found that incorporating reflective writing activities into their teaching is beneficial. Students are encouraged to self-evaluate their learning and identify ways to improve. 

A review of the current literature has identified the following key benefits for students:

Develops metacognition - learning how to learn (Clarke & Holton, 2006; EER, 2018)

Encourages critical thinking (Jarvis et al, 2003) 

Allows opportunities for dialogue (O’Rourke, 2006)

Engages students in their own learning (Boud et al, 1985)

Recommended activities 

Studies have identified what works when creating activities involving reflection:

1. In-class activities

2. Tutor scaffolding

3. Tutor feedback on reflective writing

4. Including peer discussion

5. Limited time for activity

6. Prompt application of learning 

Using reflective writing with students

  • Reflective writing is beneficial for all students but many tutors focus on developing activities for their first year undergraduates, as it can ease their transition into university study. 
  • Reflective writing can be especially suitable for improving students’ understanding and application of assignment feedback. 
  • Using a structured in-class activity can ensure students spend more time reflecting on their feedback.
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