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Reflective Writing

Reflective writing is one aspect of critical thinking or analyzing.  In analyzing evidence, there are three types of connections you can make:

  1. Text-to-text
  2. Text-to-self
  3. Text-to-world

The text-to-self connection is where reflective writing happens.  When making this type of connection, it is important to still evaluate and explain the action, evidence, or feeling just as you would with the other two types.

Questions to Answer

In reflective writing, you answer three important questions:

  1. What? (Describe, Feel, and Evaluate)
    1. What is the evidence or experience?
    2. What did I feel/think?
    3. What went well/poorly?
  2. So what? (Analyze)
    1. What was important about this evidence or experience?
    2. What impacted my feelings or thoughts?
    3. What did I learn about myself?
  3. Now what? (Conclude)
    1. What can I do to improve my knowledge or skill?
    2. In the future, what would I do differently? Why?

Types of Reflective Writing

There are two types of reflective writing:

Personal Reflection

A personal reflection usually requires little or no scholarly research, but it does require an in-depth analysis of your personal experiences. In this type of reflection, it is important to show how those experiences are related to and have shaped your understanding of a particular issue.

Academic Reflection

An academic reflection requires you to analyze how your experiences relate to the researched literature or theories.  In this type of reflection, there should be a balance between research and personal experience.  It is important to show how the research connects to your experience and explain the importance of the connection.

Reflective Writing Checklist

  • Check your verb tense.

Reflective writing can have multiple verb tenses, depending on the context of your reflection.


  • Determine pronoun choice.

    Confirm with your faculty member whether you should use first person "I/we" or third person "it/he/she".

  • Describe one or a few main experiences.

    It is important to limit the amount of experiences.  This will help keep your reflection focussed and give you the ability to provide an in-depth analysis.

  • Evaluate the experience.

    This answers the "what" question.

  • Connect to the literature or theory if needed.

    This shows the reader how you have made text-to-self connections for academic reflection.

  • Analyse the importance.

    This answers the "so what" question.

  • Provide a conclusion that addresses future impact.

This answers the "now what" question.