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University Writing Center

SWC 12: Reflective Writing

Dynamic PDF: Reflective Writing

Reflective writing asks you to look back on your past experiences and reflect on how those experiences have helped you learn and grow as a scholar and as a person. Reflective writing can be personal or academic/professional. Reflective writing lets you share these personal discoveries with specific audiences, such as your professors or professionals in your field.

Formal reflective writing should:

  • Provide clear links between assignments and projects in your course(s) or your discipline and academic or personal growth
  • Show how failures or negative experiences have contributed to your growth
  • Focus on specific details pertaining to your growth, providing clear support for the claims being made
  • Analyze your learning or growth process
  • Be future focused, making connections between your growth and how it will impact your future

Use the reflective pathway below to brainstorm for your reflective writing project. This will help you add depth and detail so that your reader can better understand your experiences and growth.

Experience: What are some important experiences you have had that have impacted who you are as a person/learner? Why are these experiences so important?

Description: Take one or more of the experiences above and describe what happened in detail. Because reflective writing goes beyond explaining a situation or facts of an experience and explains the thoughts and feelings generated in the moment and discerned afterward, any summary should be accounted for in your analysis or necessary for you audience to understand the experience.

Analysis: What did you think and/or feel about the experience? Was it good, bad, or both, and why? How did this experience affect you? What could have been done differently (by you and/or others)? How has this experience had an impact on you? What did you learn?

Application: How does this experience impact you going forward? What has changed and why? How have you used this experience to change or grow? What do you want to do in the future because of this experience?

For more guidance on reflective writing and a walkthrough of the steps, please see the UWC’s “Reflecting to Look Forward” Workshop video.

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