Reflective writing

What is reflective writing?

Reflection model: experience, reflect, action. What? So What? Now What?
Figure 1: Jasper’s (2003) ERA model & Driscoll’s (2007) questions combined.
  • A basic pattern (see above) involves describing what occurred, reflecting on why this might be significant and what has been learnt, and thinking about your next actions.
  • Focus on key events rather than trying to cover everything.
  • This could include positive or critical incidents ‘which we interpret as a problem or challenge’ (Bassot, 2016, p. 42).
  • You can learn more about reflective writing in the video below from Hull University.
Video on reflective writing

1. Reflective journals

  • Similar to a diary, it records your thoughts on a weekly or regular basis.
  • Gibbs’ (1888, cited in William, Woolliams and Spiro, 2016, p. 91) cycle can aid detailed reflection.
  • Description: What happened?
  • Feelings: What were you thinking or feeling?
  • Evaluation: What was good or bad about the experience?
  • Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation?
  • Conclusion: What else could you have done?
  • Action: If it arose again, what would you do?
Gibbs' reflective cycle: description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, action plan.
Figure 2: Gibbs’ reflective cycle


Set aside regular times for reflection; this will help you to remember events more clearly.

2. Sketchbooks

Example of a sketchbook page by Grayson Perry.
Figure 3: Grayson Perry’s Sketchbook
  • Sketchbooks may include initial drawings and ideas, design development, sources of inspiration, technical information, material samples and experiments.
  • Overall, they act as a space to ‘pause, record, reflect, move on’ (Greenless, 2005, p. 13).
  • As part of recording, use annotation to document process (what materials, processes or techniques were used), analysis (why you did it) and evaluation (how effective it was).

3. Evaluations

  • Evaluations reflect back on a completed project; this may include stages such as aims, research, experimentation and final outcomes.
  • They also involve considering both strengths and weaknesses.
  • Try the SWOT analysis framework to get started.
SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.
SWOT analysis example questions

The following sources were consulted:

  • Bassot, B. (2016) The reflective journal. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Driscoll, J. (ed.). (2007). Practicing clinical supervision: a reflective approach for healthcare professionals. Edinburgh: Balliere Tindall.
  • Greenless, K. (2005) Creating sketchbooks for embroiderers and textile artists. London: B. T. Batsford.
  • Jasper, M. (2003) Beginning reflective practice. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
  • Moon, J. (2006) Learning journals. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.
  • Stobart, J. (2011) Extraordinary sketchbooks. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • The Guardian (2016) Inside Grayson Perry’s sketchbook. Available at: (Accessed: 22 May 2019).
  • Williams, K., Wolliams, M. and Spiro, J. (2012) Reflective writing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Image to represent a list of eBooks available about reflection.


Try these resources available on Ebook Central: