Reflective Writing | My Assignment Tutor

Reflective Writing Guidance Notes for StudentsPete WattonJane CollingsJenny MoonApril 20012ContentsAims and Objectives Page 3Using the Guidance Notes Page 3What is Required in Reflective Writing Page 4Deepening Reflection Page 5Exercise in Reflective Writing -1 Page 6Multiple Perspectives in Reflective Writing Page 10Possible Sources of Evidence for Reflection Page 11Exercise in Reflective Writing –2 Page 12Practising Reflective Writing Page 17References Page 17Bibliography Page 18-19Web Sites Page 19Pack Evaluation Page 203Aims and ObjectivesAim To inform and support the production of reflective writing for work-basedlearning or work experience modules.Objectives – Having worked through the pack you will have:Identified the characteristics of reflective writingRecognise how to deepen reflective writngBe able to start writing reflectivelyLocate resources to support your reflective writingUsing the Guidance NotesThis pack is intended for your use, so you should feel free to write in it and customise it asyou see fit.The pack provides both background information, exercises to complete and referencematerial for further research.Introducing ReflectionThere is increasingly much academic writing about the benefits of reflecting on practicefor everyone involved in education. An excellent description of reflection can be found inthe Harry Potter novel ‘ The Goblet of Fire’. In the paragraph below Dumbledore thechief wizard and head teacher is talking to Harry about having excess thoughts!‘Harry stared at the stone basin. The contents had returned to their original, silvery whitestate, swirling and rippling beneath his gaze.“ What is it?” Harry asked shakily.“This? It is called a Pensieve,” said Dumbledore. “ I sometimes find, and I am sure youknow the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into mymind.”“Err,” said Harry who couldn’t truthfully say that he had ever felt anything of the sort.“At these times” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “ I use the Penseive. Onesimply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into a basin, andexamines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, youunderstand, when they are in this form.’ ( Rowling 2000)4What is Required in Reflective Writing ?Why Reflect?‘It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn.Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten,or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emergingfrom this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated.And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively.’(Gibbs 1988)Reflective writing provides an opportunity for you to gain further insights from yourwork through deeper reflection on your experiences, and through further consideration ofother perspectives from people and theory. Through reflection we can we can deepen thelearning from work.The Nature and Content of ReflectionSo what do we mean by reflection? One tentative definition of reflection is offered byMoon (1999):‘… a form of mental processing with a purpose and/or anticipated outcome that isapplied to relatively complex or unstructured ideas for which there is not anobvious solution’. (Moon 1999 pp23)She continues by outlining some of the purposes for reflection:‘We reflect in order to:Consider the process of our own learning – a process of metacognitionCritically review something – our own behaviour, that of others or the product ofbehaviour (e.g. an essay, book, painting etc.)Build theory from observations: we draw theory from generalisations – sometimes inpractical situations, sometimes in thoughts or a mixture of the twoEngage in personal or self developmentMake decisions or resolve uncertainty …Empower or emancipate ourselves as individuals (and then it is close to selfdevelopment) or to empower/emancipate ourselves within the context of our socialgroups.’(Ibid pp23)In this instance, whilst your reflective writing must relate to your work place experience,the exact focus and emphasis is for you to determine.Deepening Reflection – Three Models of reflection5When assessing your reflective writing your tutor will be expecting more than asuperficial review of your experience, they will be seeking evidence of deeper reflection.This means moving beyond the descriptive, and subjecting your experience to greaterscrutiny.In Learning by Doing, Gibbs (1988) outlines the stages for a ‘Structured Debriefing’,which are based on Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle and which encouragedeeper reflection: Description:What is the stimulant for reflection? ( incident, event,theoretical idea ) What are you going to reflect on?What were your reactions and feelings?What was good and bad about the experience? Makevalue judgements.What sense can you make of the situation? Bring inideas from outside the experience to help you. What wasreally going on?What can be concluded, in a general sense, from theseexperiences and the analyses you have undertaken?What can be concluded about your own specific, unique,personal situation or ways of working?What are you going to do differently in this type ofFeelings:Evaluation:Analysis:Conclusions (general):Conclusions (specific):Personal Action plans: situation next time? What steps are you going to take onthe basis of what you have learnt?Hatton and Smith ( 1995) identified four levels in the development of teacher reflectionfrom teaching practice. In your reflective writing your tutor will be looking for evidenceof reflecting at the higher levels.Descriptive writing: This is a description of events or literature reports. There is nodiscussion beyond description. The writing is considered not to show evidence ofreflectionDescriptive reflective: There is basically description of events, but shows someevidence of deeper consideration in relatively descriptive language. There is no realevidence of the notion of alternative viewpoints in use.Dialogic reflection: This writing suggests there is a ‘stepping back’ from the eventsand actions which leads to different level of discourse. There is a sense of ‘mullingabout’, discourse with self and an exploration of the role of self in events and actions.There is consideration of the qualities of judgements and possible alternatives forexplaining and hypothesising. The reflection is analytical or integrative, linking factorsand perspectives.Critical reflection: This form of reflection, in addition, shows evidence that the learneris aware that actions and events may be ‘located within and explicable by multipleperspectives, but are located in and influenced by multiple and socio– political contexts’6Bloom (1964) identified different levels of thinking processes, which he presented in ahierarchy (figure 1); these can also be used as a framework for more thorough reflection.They move from knowing, evidenced through recalling information, through toevaluating, evidenced through making systematic judgements of value. In your reflectivewriting your tutor will be looking for evidence of these higher level processes. ProcessExplanationKnowledgeRecognition and recall of information –describing eventsComprehensionInterprets, translates or summarises giveninformation – demonstrating understanding ofeventsApplicationUses information in a situation different fromoriginal learning context –AnalysisSeparates wholes into parts until relationshipsare clear – breaks down experiencesSynthesisCombines elements to form new entity from theoriginal one – draws on experience and otherevidence to suggest new insightsEvaluationInvolves acts of decision making, or judgingbased on criteria or rationale – makesjudgements about IncreasingDifficultyThere are other models that can help you to structure your reflective writing and whichyou may find more helpful. These can be accessed through library and web research.The search engine is very useful.Exercise in Reflective Writing – 1Read the following three accounts of a presentation at a team meeting inthe workplace by 22-year old after graduating. The accounts of the sameevent are written at three different levels of reflection.• Read the accounts consider how they are written.The PresentationA) I had to take an agenda item to the weekly team meeting in my third week of workingat PIGG PLC. I had to talk about the project that I am on (creating a new database for themanagement information system). I had done a presentation before and then I relied onmy acting skills. Despite the acting, I spent quite a bit of time preparing it in the way thatI have seen others make similar presentations.The presentation at the last team meeting, given by my colleague, went well – she usedPower Point and I decided to use it. I decided that a good presentation comes from goodplanning and having all the figures that anyone might request so I spent a long time inthe preparation and I went in feeling confident.However, I became nervous when I realised they were all waiting for me to speak and mynerves made my voice wobble. I did not know how to stop it. Early on, I noticed thatpeople seemed not to understand what I was saying despite the Power Point. Using PowerPoint meant that people received my presentation both through what I was saying and7what I had prepared on the slides. In a way that meant they got it twice but I noticed thatMrs Shaw (my boss) repeated bits of what I had said several times and once or twiceanswered questions for me. This made me feel uncomfortable. I felt it was quitepatronising and I was upset. Later my colleagues said that she always does it. I wasdisappointed that my presentation did not seem to have gone well.I thought about the presentation for several days and then talked with Mrs Shaw about thepresentation (there was no-one else). She gave me a list of points for improvement nexttime. They included:– putting less on Power Point;– talking more slowly;– calming myself down in some way.I also have to write down the figures in a different way so that they can be understoodbetter. She suggested that I should do a presentation to several of the team sometimenext week so that I can improve my performance.B) I had to take an agenda item to the weekly team meeting in my third week of workingat PIGG PLC. I had to talk about the project that I am on. I am creating a new databasefor the management information system. I had given a presentation before and that timeI relied on my acting skills. I did realise that there were considerable differencesbetween then and now, particularly in the situation (it was only fellow students and mytutor before). I was confident but I did spend quite a bit of time preparing. Becauseeveryone else here uses Power Point, I felt I had better use it – though I realised that itwas not for the best reasons. I also prepared lots of figures so that I could answerquestions. I thought, at that stage, that any questions would involve requests for data.When I think back on the preparation that I did, I realise that I was desperately trying toprove that I could make a presentation as well as my colleague, who did the last one. Iwanted to impress everyone. I had not realised there was so much to learn aboutpresenting, and how much I needed to know about Power Point to use it properly.When I set up the presentation in the meeting I tried to be calm but it did not work out.Early on the Power Point went wrong and I began to panic. Trying to pretend that I wascool and confident made the situation worse because I did not admit my difficulties andask for help. The more I spoke, the more my voice went wobbly. I realised, from thekinds of questions that the others asked, that they did not understand what I was saying.They were asking for clarification – not the figures. I felt worse when Mrs Shaw, myboss, started to answer questions for me. I felt flustered and even less able to cope.As a result of this poor presentation, my self esteem is low at work now. I had thought Iwas doing all right in the company. After a few days, I went to see Mrs Shaw and wetalked it over. I still feel that her interventions did not help me. Interestingly several ofmy colleagues commented that she always does that. It was probably her behaviour,more than anything else, that damaged my poise. Partly through talking over thepresentation and the things that went wrong (but not, of course, her interventions), I cansee several areas that I could get better. I need to know more about using Power Point –and to practice with it. I recognise, also, that my old acting skills might have given meinitial confidence, but I needed more than a clear voice, especially when I lost my waywith Power Point. Relying on a mass of figures was not right either. It was not figuresthey wanted. In retrospect, I could have put the figures on a handout. I am hoping tohave a chance to try with a presentation, practicing with some of the team.8C) I am writing this back in my office. It all happened 2 days ago.Three weeks after I started at PIGG PLC had to take an agenda item to the team meeting.I was required to report on my progress in the project on which I am working. I amdeveloping a new database for the management information system of the company. Iwas immediately worried. I was scared about not saying the right things and not beingable to answer questions properly. I did a presentation in my course at university and feltthe same about it initially. I was thinking then, like this time, I could use my actingskills. Both times that was helpful in maintaining my confidence at first, at least.Though the fact that I was all right last time through the whole presentation may not havehelped me this time!I decided to use Power Point. I was not very easy about its use because I have seen it gowrong so often. However, I have not seen anyone else give a presentation here withoutusing it – and learning to use Power Point would be valuable. I was not sure, when itcame to the session, whether I really knew enough about running Power Point. (How doyou know when you know enough about something? – dummy runs, I suppose, but Icouldn’t get the laptop when I wanted it).When it came to the presentation, I really wanted to do it well – as well as thepresentations were done the week before. Maybe I wanted too much to do well.Previous presentations have been interesting, informative and clear and I thought thehandouts from them were good (I noticed that the best gave enough but not too muchinformation).In the event, the session was a disaster and has left me feeling uncomfortable in my workand I even worry about it at home. I need to think about why a simple presentation couldhave such an effect on me. The Power Point went wrong (I think I clicked on the wrongthing). My efforts to be calm and ‘cool’ failed and my voice went wobbly – that was,anyway, how it felt to me. My colleague actually said afterwards that I looked quitecalm despite what I was feeling (I am not sure whether she meant it or was trying to helpme). When I think back to that moment, if I had thought that I still looked calm (despitewhat I felt), I could have regained the situation. As it was, it went from bad to worse andI know that my state became obvious because Mrs Shaw, my boss, began to answer thequestions that people were asking for me.I am thinking about the awful presentation again – it was this time last week. I amreading what I wrote earlier about it. Now I return to it, I do have a slightly differentperspective. I think that it was not as bad as it felt at the time. Several of my colleaguestold me afterwards that Mrs Shaw always steps in to answer questions like that and theycommented that I handled her intrusion well. That is interesting. I need to do somethinking about how to act next time to prevent this interruption from happening or to dealwith the situation when she starts*. I might look in the library for that book onassertiveness.I have talked to Mrs Shaw now too. I notice that my confidence in her is not all thatgreat while I am still feeling a bit cross. However, I am feeling more positive generallyand I can begin to analyse what I could do better in the presentation. It is interesting tosee the change in my attitude after a week. I need to think from the beginning about theprocess of giving a good presentation.. I am not sure how helpful was my reliance on myacting skills*. Acting helped my voice to be stronger and better paced, but I was not justtrying to put over someone else’s lines but my own and I needed to be able to discussmatters in greater depth rather than just give the line*.I probably will use Power Point again. I have had a look in the manual and it suggeststhat you treat it as a tool – not let it dominate and not use it as a means of presentingmyself. That is what I think I was doing. I need not only to know how to use it, but I9need to feel sufficiently confident in its use so I can retrieve the situation when things gowrong. That means understanding more than just the sequence of actions*.As I am writing this, I am noticing how useful it is to go back over things I have writtenabout before. I seem to be able to see the situation differently. The first time I wrotethis, I felt that the presentation was dreadful and that I could not have done it differently.Then later I realised that there were things I did not know at the time (eg about Mrs Shawand her habit of interrupting). I also recognise some of the areas in which I went wrong.At the time I could not see that. It was as if my low self esteem got in the way. Knowingwhere I went wrong, and admitting the errors to myself gives me a chance to improvenext time – and perhaps to help Mrs Shaw to improve in her behaviour towards us!*I have asterisked the points that I need to address in order to improve.Features of the accounts that are indicative of different levels ofreflectionA) This account is descriptive and it contains little reflection.1. The account describes what happened, sometimes mentioning past experiences,sometimes anticipating the future – but all in the context of an account of the event.2. There are some references to Marianne’s emotional reactions, but she has notexplored how the reactions relate to her behaviour.3. Ideas are taken on without questioning them or considering them in depth.4. The account is written only from Marianne’s point of view.5. External information is mentioned but its impact on behaviour is not subject toconsideration.6. Generally one point is made at a time and ideas are not linked.B) An account showing evidence of some reflection.1. There is description of the event, but where there are external ideas or information,the material is subjected to consideration and deliberation.2. The account shows some analysis.3. There is recognition of the worth of exploring motives for behaviour4. There is willingness to be critical of action.5. Relevant and helpful detail is explored where it has value.6. There is recognition of the overall effect of the event on self – in other words, there issome ‘standing back’ from the event.7. The account is written at one point in time. It does not, therefore, demonstrate therecognition that views can change with time and more reflection. In other words theaccount does not indicate a recognition that frames of reference affect the manner inwhich we reflect at a given timeC)This account shows quite deep reflection, and it does incorporate arecognition that the frame of reference with which an event is viewed canchange1. Self questioning is evident (an ‘internal dialogue’ is set up at times) deliberatingbetween different views of her own behaviour (different views of her own andothers).2. Marianne takes into account the views and motives of others and considers theseagainst her own.103. She recognises how prior experience, thoughts (own and other’s) interact with theproduction of her own behaviour.4. There is clear evidence of standing back from an event.5. She helps herself to learn from the experience by splitting off the reflectiveprocesses from the points she wants to learn (by asterisk system).6. There is recognition that the personal frame of reference can change according to theemotional state in which it is written, the acquisition of new information, the reviewof ideas and the effect of time passing.Multiple Perspectives in Reflective WritingWhilst your reflective writing will be based on personal experience, it will also need todraw on other sources and types of evidence if you are to better understand yourexperience.When collecting evidence from primary sources, from the placement itself, there is a needto check the validity of your findings:‘The basic principle in data collection for case study is to check your dataacross a variety of methods and a variety of sources’. (Nisbet and Watt 1984)Moon (2001) calls this multi– dimensionality and explores this in the context of studentteacher’s journals.Evidence of ‘multi-dimensionality’. Good journals will draw from and refer to awide range of types of material. For example, a journal that does not displaymultidimensionality might consider ‘what I see happening in the classroom’ andrelate it to one or two few standard references. A journal that is multidimensionalwill draw from a range of texts, quotations, pictures, relevant media items and soon. It may show evidence of the learner ‘standing outside the situation’ in orderto observe self. It may show evidence of understanding of there being differentviewpoints about an event. The opposite to ‘multi dimensionality’ is likely to be avery narrow journal mostly based on observation or expression of own feelings,with few references etc.As with presentation, most journals are likely to fall into a wide band of‘adequacy’ in respect to ‘multi-dimensionality’. A few will lose marks becausethey are exceptionally narrow and a few journals will attract extra marks becausethey are exceptional in this respect. ( Moon 2001 )You gain a more reliable picture if you are able to draw on information from differentsources. For instance, if you are considering the effectiveness of your organisation’scommunication systems you may have a variety of available evidence sources: companypolicy, newsletters, notice boards, minutes of meetings, staff surveys, customer surveys,etc. You need to find different perspectives, which can help to illuminate an issue:communication with your organisation may be seen differently by managers, supervisors,staff, or customers and clients.Continuing with the example of communication, for example, you may have consideredtheories of communication through your course, which will help you to interpret yourexperience in the work place.11The common factor in any piece of reflective writing is the individual perspective; yourpersonal reflections. The focus or topic can vary greatly. In a previous quotation fromMoon (1999) the differing purposes for reflection were identified, all of which couldprovide a framework for your reflective writing. Figure 2 below shows some ways ofconsidering the writing.Figure 2Possible sources of evidence for reflectiveOther things I knowPersonal aspirationsApplication to othermodules / learningExercise in Reflective Writing – 2Read the 4 different accounts of the same story below.Consider how are they written against factors discussed onpages 5 & 6.The Park (1)I went to the park today. The sun shone and clouds floated across the sky in a gentlebreeze. It was really quite hot – so much nicer than the day before when it rained. WhenI got there, I went over to the children’s playing field. There were several children thereand one, in particular, I noticed, was in too many clothes for the hot day. The childrenwere running about and this child became red in the face and began to slow down andthen he sat. He must have been about 10. Some of the others called him up again and hegot to his feet. He stumbled into the game for a few moments, tripping once or twice. ItSELF PLACEMENT PERSONAL UNIVERSITYREFLECTIONExperientiallearningtheoryMe as alearnerOrganisationalreviewWork-basedlearning and HEWork-basedissuesApplication of othermodules / learningto these ideas12appeared that he had just not got the energy to lift his feet. Eventually he stumbled downand did not get up but he was still moving and he shuffled into a half sitting and half lyingposition watching the other children and I think he was calling out to them. I don’t know.Anyway, I walked on after a few minutes. I had to get to the shop to buy some fresh chillipeppers for the chilli-con-carne that my children had asked for tonight’s party. The twinshad invited many friends round for an end-of-term do to celebrate the beginning of thesummer holidays. They might think that they have cause to celebrate but it makes a lotmore work for me when they are home. James, my partner, often says that we shouldcelebrate when they go back to school but I would not like to tell them that.It was the next day when the paper came through the door – in it there was a report of achild who had been taken seriously ill in the park the previous day. He was fighting forhis life in hospital and they said that the seriousness of the situation was due to the delaybefore he was brought to hospital. The report commented on the fact that he had beenlying unattended for half an hour before one of the other children decided to do somethingabout him. It said that that several passers-by might have seen him looking ill and thereport went on to consider why passers-by do not take action when they see thatsomething is wrong. The article was headed ‘Why do they ‘Walk on by’?The Park (2)The event took place in the park. There was a child playing with others. He looked hotand unfit. I watched the children for a while and walked on. Next day it was reported inthe paper that the child had been taken to hospital seriously ill – very seriously ill. Thereport said that there were several passers-by in the park who had seen the child lookingill and who had done nothing.Reading the report, I felt very guilty and I have found it difficult to shift the feelings.I did not stop because I was on my way to the shops to buy food for a meal that I had tocook. Though I saw that the child was ill, I chose not to act. If I had realised that he wasso ill, I would have acted differently. I guess I did really know, but I did not want to doanything about it. I know that.I should have gone over and asked him what was wrong – and even got one of the otherchildren to call for help. I am not sure if the help would have been ambulance or doctor atthat stage – but it does not matter now. If he had been given help then, he would not befighting for his life.I guess this situation has really shocked me. It reminds me of when my uncle died – butthen again I don’t really think that that is relevant. He was going to die anyway. My badfeelings about that situation were due to sheer sadness at his death and some irrationalregrets that I did not visit him on the day before.This event has really shaken me to my roots – more than I would have expected. It ismaking me think about actions in all sorts of areas of my life. Maybe it is the culminationof many events that have been happening recently and I need to consider what is going onin my life in a big way. I need to think about how to sort out all the different things thatthis has made me think about in my life.The Park (3)13I went to the park today. The light reminded me of a time that I was walking on StDavid’s Head in Wales – when there was a hard and bright light and anything I looked atwas in silhouette. Unlike on that occasion, this time, things were generally verysatisfactory in my life I thought. In fact I was going to the supermarket to get some chillipeppers to make the chile-con-carne that I had promised the children. They were havingone of their end of term celebrations with friends. I always thought that they were unfairon me when they did this. I find that their holiday time makes a lot more work. If I wereto celebrate anything about their school terms, it would be the end of the holidays whenthey are about to go back to school. No – I joke (or do I? – I am not sure that I reallyjoke. How I could do with a little less pressure on my life just at the moment).Anyway, I was walking across the park and came to a group of children. I don’t knowwhy I stopped to look at them. I don’t usually look at other people’s children – I just did.Anyway there were a number of kids there. I noticed, in particular, one child who seemedto be very overdressed for the weather. His face was red. He was a boy of around 10 –not unlike Charlie. He was running around with the others but was beginning to lookdistressed. I felt uneasy about him but I did not do anything. What could I have done?Anyway, I remember thinking, I had little time and the supermarket would get crowded. Isuppose that in retrospect I wish I had acted – but I still do not know quite how, at thatpoint. Anyway he sat down, looking absolutely exhausted and as if he had no energy todo anything. A few moments later, the other children called him up to run about again. Ifelt more uneasy and watched as he got up and tried to run, then fell, ran again and felland half sat and half lay. Still I did nothing more than look – what was going on with me?Eventually I went on – it was to get to the shops, and to get the meal and all the otherthings I had to do, I told myself. It was the next day when the paper came through thedoor that I had a real shock. It made me feel as guilty as that awful trauma all those yearsago. I do not usually do wrong, in fact I think of myself as a good person. In the paperthere was a report of a child who had been taken seriously ill in the park the previous day.He was fighting for his life in the hospital and the situation was much more seriousbecause there had been such a delay in getting him to hospital. The report commented onthe fact that he had been lying unattended to for half an hour before one of the otherchildren decided to do something about him. One of my many reactions was to ask whythe other children had not been more responsible. However, it went on to say that severalpassers-by might have seen him playing and looking ill and the report considered whypassers-by do not take action when they see that something is wrong. The article washeaded ‘Why do they ‘Walk on by’?The event affected me for some days afterwards but I did not know where to go or whomto tell. I did want to own up. I assumed that the bad feelings would eventually fade andthey did – thank goodness. Next time I will not walk on by – I hope!The Park (4)I went past the park on the way to the shops. There were children playing there. Ithought I knew some of them. They are a gang of kids who are perpetual bullies to otherchildren who are younger or weaker than themselves. They have caused problems to mychildren quite recently. I stopped and watched them and I thought that they seemed tobecome a bit nervous – they must have realised who I was. I suppose there was a bit ofintimidation intended on my part. I guess they were worried about what I might do.14They were running about. The sun was hot. One boy – probably a bit older than Charlie’sage – seemed more bothered and nervous than the others – rightly too – he was the maintrouble-maker from what I recalled. He seemed to fall over – faking it in front of me Iguessed. The others left him there anyway. That made me think even more that his wasacting – I think he wanted me to feel sorry for him. I did not. Eventually the others calledto him and he got up slowly – still faking it – then he fell again and I got fed up with hisacting and went on to do my shopping. I felt cross. Thank goodness he was not comingto the party that my children were planning – though I am surprised that he had notmanaged to play-act his way into their sympathy given his current performance ofmanipulation.Well yes – there was a bit more to the story. The next day’s paper said that a child hadbeen taken ill in the park the previous day – and that he had been lying there for sometime and he was very ill. It did also mention that there had been passers-by who had seenhim there and had not done anything about it. Even the headline refered to that – ‘Whydo they ‘Walk on by’?’ – what a silly headline!Well what could I have done? I thought things were different – he couldn’t still be fakingit at the hospital could he – or maybe the paper is short of news today and is exaggerating.Maybe he fell asleep on the ground and got cold and the other children eventuallypanicked – and maybe he decided to go on with his play-acting at the hospital. Knowingthe family he comes from, I wouldn’t be surprised.—That is how I thought about it on the day afterwards anyway. I wrote it all down in myjournal – but I was a bit plagued by it. It kept coming back in my mind and gradually –over the next few days – I begun to think of him differently. Maybe he was ill when I sawhim. Maybe I was caught up in the anger that the bullying activities of those kids hadcaused among some of us other parents and I could only see the boy in that light.Thinking of it in that way makes me realise that I should perhaps have acted differently.Bully though he might have been, I think now that he was ill – and maybe he was evencoming near me in the hope that I might take pity on him.But of course, I do not know the truth of the situation. I am sure that I would have acteddifferently if I had seen the situation as I did later. My reactions the next day would havebeen different and I would not be plagued as I am now by the feelings of irresponsibility.I guess I just hope that other parents don’t misconstrue my children’s actions in the way Imisunderstood his – if I did.This has all made me thing about how we view things. The way I saw this event at thetime was quite different to the way I see it now. It is a year later. The story ran in thepaper for some time because the boy was very ill indeed and he nearly died and the paperkept going back to the theme of people who do not take action and just stand and starewhen there is an incident.Thinking back to the time, the bullying was on my mind – mainly because we had beentalking about it at breakfast. It had actually happened a while before – but theconversation had brought all the anger and upset to my mind – and then seeing them there– well I thought they were the same children – it is even possible that they were not. Itwas just so much on my mind at the time.So I can see how I looked at that event and interpreted it in a manner that was consistentwith my emotional frame of mind at the time. Seeing the same events without thatbreakfast conversation might have led me to see the whole thing in an entirely different15manner and I might have acted differently. The significance of this whole event ischilling when I realise that my lack of action nearly resulted in his death. But how could Ihave seen it differently when I was caught up in that set of emotions? What mechanismcould I have used in order to see if there were any other ways of construing it? How can Iknow that my perceptions in respect of some event are not distorted in such a way that Iact in an inappropriate manner?The Park: comments on the quality of reflectionThe Park (1)• This piece tells the story. Sometimes it mentions past experiences, sometimesanticipates the future but all in the context of the account of the story.• There might be references to emotional state, but the role of the emotions on action isnot explored.• Ideas of others are mentioned but not elaborated or used to investigate the meaningof the events.• The account is written only from one point of view – that of Annie.• Generally ideas are presented in a sequence and are only linked by the story. Theyare not all relevant or focused• In fact – you could hardly deem this to be reflective at all. It is very descriptive. Itcould be a reasonably written account of an event that could serve as a basis onwhich reflection might start, though it hardly signals any material for reflection –other than the last few wordsThe Park (2)• In this account there is a description of the same events. There is very little additionof ideas from outside the event – reference to attitudes of others, comments.• The account is more than a story though. It is focused on the event as if there is a bigquestion to be asked and answered.• In the questioning there is recognition of the worth of exploring the motives forbehaviour – but it does not go very far. In other words, asking the questions makes itmore than a descriptive account, but the lack of attempt to respond to the questionsmeans that there is little actual analysis of the events.• Annie is critical of her actions and in her questions, signals this. The questioning ofaction does mean that Annie is standing back from the event to a small extent. Thereis a sense that she recognises that this is a significant incident, with learning to begained – but the reflection does not go sufficiently deep to enable the learning tobegin to occur.The Park (3)• The description is succinct – just sufficient to raise the issues. Extraneousinformation is not added. It is not a story. The focus is on the attempt to reflect onthe event and to learn from it. There is more of a sense of Annie standing back fromthe event in order to reflect better on her actions and in order to be more effectivelycritical.• There is more analysis of the situation and an evident understanding that it was not asimple situation – that there might be alternative explanations or actions that couldbe justified equally effectively.16• The description could be said to be slightly narrow (see The Park (4)) as Annie is notacknowledging that there might be other ways of perceiving the situation – otherpoints of view. She does not seem to be recognising that her reflection is affected byher frame of reference at the time or now. It is possible, for example, that herexperience with Charlie (last paragraph) – or her question about knowing the boyhave influenced the manner in which she reacted. It might not just be a matter oflinking up other events, but of going beyond and checking out the possibility that herframe of reference might have been affected by the prior experiences.The Park (4)• The account is succinct and to the point. There is some deep reflection here that isself-critical and questions the basis of the beliefs and values on which the behaviourwas based.• There is evidence of standing back from the event, of Annie treating herself as anobject acting within the context.• There is also an internal dialogue – a conversation with herself in which sheproposes and further reflects on alternative explanations.• She shows evidence of looking at the views of others (Tom) and of considering thealternative point of view, and learning from it.• She recognises the significance of the effect of passage of time on her reflection –egthat her personal frame of reference at the time may have influenced her actions andthat a different frame of reference might have lead to different results.• She notices that the proximity of other, possibly unrelated events (the dinner-timeconversation) have an effect either possibly on her actual behaviour and hersubsequent reflection – or possibly on her reflective processes only. She notices thatshe can be said to be reconstructing the event in retrospect – creating a story aroundit that may not be ‘true’.• She recognises that there may be no conclusion to this situation – but that there arestill things to be learnt from it.• She has also been able to reflect on her own process of reflecting (actedmetacognitively), recognising that her process influenced the outcome.Practising reflective writing• Be aware of the purpose of your reflective writing and state if it is appropriate• Reflective writing requires practice and constant standing back from oneself.• Practice reflecting writing on the same event /incident through different people’sviewpoints and disciplines• Deepen your reflection / reflective writing with the help of others through discussingissues with individuals and groups, getting the points of others.• Always reflect on what you have learnt from an incident, and how you would dosomething differently another time.17• Try to develop your reflective writing to include the ethical, moral, historical andsocio-political contexts where these are relevant.ReferencesBloom, B, 1964, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives : Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain.Longman.Gibbs, G, 1988, Learning by Doing. A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. FEUHatton,N. Smith,D. (1995) Reflection in teacher Education. Teaching and TeacherEducation. Vol 11 p33 – 49Kolb, D. 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning andDevelopment, Prentice Hall, New JerseyMoon, J, 1999, Learning Journals: A handbook for academics, students and professionaldevelopment. Kogan Page.LondonMoon, J.2001. The development of assessment criteria for a journal for PGCE students.Unpublished. University of Exeter.Nisbett, J and Watt,J Case Study in Bell, J, Bush,T, Fox, A, Goodey, J and Goulding, S,1984 Conducting Small-scale Investigations in Educational Management. ChapmanRowling,J.K (2000) Goblet of Fire . 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