Types of reflective writing assignments
Journal: requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content.
Learning diary: similar to a journal, but may require group participation. The diary then becomes a place for you to communicate in writing with other group members.
Log book: often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. You note down or 'log' what you have done. A log gives you an accurate record of a process and helps you reflect on past actions and make better decisions for future actions.
Reflective note: often used in law. A reflective note encourages you to think about your personal reaction to a legal issue raised in a course.
Essay diary: can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes).
Peer review: usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback.
Self-assessment: requires you to to comment on your own work.
Some examples of reflective writing
Social Science fieldwork report (methods section)
The field notes were written by hand on lined paper. They consisted of jotted notes and mental triggers (personal notes that would remind me of specific things when it came to writing the notes up). I took some direct observational notes recording what I saw where this was relevant to the research questions and, as I was aiming to get a sense of the culture and working environment, I also made researcher inference notes   .
 I found the notetaking process itself helpful, as it ensured that I listened carefully and decoded information. Not all the information I recorded was relevant, but noting what I found informative contributed to my ability to form an overview on re-reading. However, the reliability of jotted notes alone can be questionable. For example, the notes were not a direct transcription of what the subjects said but consisted of pertinent or interesting information.
Rarely did I have time to transcribe a direct quotation, so relied on my own fairly rapid paraphrasing, which risks changing the meaning. Some technical information was difficult to note down accurately  . A tape recorder would have been a better, more accurate method. However, one student brought a tape recorder and was asked to switch it off by a participant who was uneasy about her comments being directly recorded. It seems that subjects feel differently about being recorded or photographed (as opposed to observers taking notes), so specific consent should be sought before using these technologies  .
1. Description/ explanation of method.
2. Includes discipline-specific language
3. Critical evaluation of method
4. Conclusion and recommendation based on the writer's experience
Engineering Design Report
Question: Discuss at least two things you learnt or discovered – for example about design, or working in groups or the physical world – through participating in the Impromptu Design activities.
Firstly, the most obvious thing that I discovered was the advantage of working as part of a group  . I learned that good teamwork is the key to success in design activities when time and resources are limited. As everyone had their own point of view, many different ideas could be produced and I found the energy of group participation made me feel more energetic about contributing something  .
Secondly I discovered that even the simplest things on earth could be turned into something amazing if we put enough creativity and effort into working on them  . With the Impromptu Design activities  we used some simple materials such as straws, string, and balloons, but were still able to create some 'cool stuff'  . I learned that every design has its weaknesses and strengths and working with a group can help discover what they are. We challenged each other's preconceptions about what would and would not work. We could also see the reality of the way changing a design actually affected its performance.
1. Addresses the assignment question
2. Reflects on direct experiences
3. Direct reference to the course activity
4. The style is relatively informal, yet still uses full sentences.
5. Relating what was learnt.
Learning Journal (weekly reflection)
Last week's lecture presented the idea that science is the most powerful form of evidence  . My position as a student studying both physics and law makes this an important issue for me  and one I was thinking about while watching the 'The New Inventors' television program last Tuesday  . The two 'inventors' (an odd name considering that, as Smith (2002) says, nobody thinks of things in a vacuum) were accompanied by their marketing people. The conversations were quite contrived, but also funny and enlightening. I realised that the marketing people used a certain form of evidence to persuade the viewers (us?) of the value of the inventions  . To them, this value was determined solely by whether something could be bought or sold—in other words, whether something was 'marketable'. In contrast, the inventors seemed quite shy and reluctant to use anything more than technical language, almost as if this was the only evidence required – as if no further explanation was needed.
This difference forced me to reflect on the aims of this course—how communication skills are not generic, but differ according to time and place. Like in the 'Research Methodology' textbook discussed in the first lecture, these communication skills are the result of a form of triangulation,  which I have made into the following diagram:
1. Description of topic encountered in the course
2. The author's voice is clear
3. Introduces 'everyday' life experience
4. The style is relatively informal, yet still uses full sentences
5. Makes an explicit link between 'everyday' life and the topic
Brookfield, S 1987, Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Mezirow, J 1990, Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Schön, DA 1987, Educating the reflective practitioner, Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.
The Learning Centre thanks the students who permitted us to feature examples of their writing.
Prepared by The Learning Centre, The University of New South Wales © 2008. This guide may be distributed or adapted for educational purposes. Full and proper acknowledgement is required. Email: email@example.com
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A big thank you to student, Daniel Baxter of Bournemouth University for sending us his work placement report. We are so chuffed, we added it to the Strawberry website. Grab a cuppa and have a read…..could you join the team?
At the end of my first year of Fda Marketing I carried out a work placement at Strawberry Fields RePresents for a period of 6 weeks in order to help me gain an insight into the marketing world and to understand the demands of working life. Some of the intended aims of my placement were to;
· Experience real working environments
· Understand operational issues
· Acquire a professional outlook
· Build contacts for my future career
These factors are things that I should make a conscious effort to ensure that I achieve as they are key to ensuring that I get the most out of the placement.
As well as aims, there were also intended learning outcomes to be gained as a result of the placement which could be described as;
· Come to an understanding of the day to day running of a marketing organisation
· Deploy their professional skills in the workplace
· Adopt a professional attitude to creative and practical work
· Analyse and evaluate the experience
These learning outcomes were made so that I was able to understand prior to entering the placement what I should be gaining from it. This means that I am able to consciously make an effort to ensure that I get from the placement the most important factors.
The placement started theoretically with the interview. I was nervous for it as it was the most important interview I have had to go to. I ensured that I dressed or the occasion, in smart attire and prepared some insight into the company Strawberry Fields RePresents. The interview went really well, Suzy Wheeler, the company owner, gave me a short presentation and the interview was more informal than I expected. My first experience of an interview for a marketing job was nerve racking, but from it I learnt a few things such as preparation is key, to talk in a calm polite but confident manner and to ensure that you absorb all the information that the interviewee is giving thus allowing you to give a good response to what they are saying.
From this interview I was waiting for a phone call which when it came told me that I had been successful and to attend my first day of work there. When I arrived for work the first thing that Suzy said was that I did not need to wear smart clothes but casual and comfortable clothes would be fine from now on. This made me feel at ease straight away and meant that I was no longer nervous about it being my first day.
Suzy then went over again what her role is and informed me that I would be shadowing her for the duration of my placement. On the first day she set up a space next to her on her desk for me and delegated a few tasks for me to complete. These at first were only administration tasks such as filing and sorting but I did appreciate that I should have a go at every aspect of the job so that I can gain the most from the placement. The first day went really quickly and I was glad to get it out the way and ready to start the second day.
On the second day of placement I had to go for a business meeting with Suzy to see one of her clients Left and Right Clothing. They were a small clothing company from Bournemouth who wanted some help and guidance with their business in order to make any actions effective and to help push the business forward. This was my first ever business meeting and I thought I gained a lot from it. The meeting itself could be described as group work.
The very calm and fluent exchanges of information were more like a conversation than a meeting. This may just be the personal style of Suzy but I could see that this made brainstorming very easy for everyone there. In the meeting we discussed sponsorship. As they are a new company people need to see their brand in order to build a relationship with it. We then said that we could get Left and Right involved in one of our events so that they could increase the exposure of their brand which they were very pleased about.
Tasks kept getting sent my way, such as looking at the website statistics and try and identify weak parts of the website. This I felt was good as I was aware that in the second year of my course one of the units is digital marketing so I took interest in this. I also had to draw a table using excel for a clients Friday night shows for one of the clients. In order for me to fully appreciate the importance of this Suzy asked me to go and deliver it to Hot Rocks restaurant and to go through it with them. This helped as I could directly see what the effect was of the work that I had carried out.
The days went passed and the tasks there were being assigned to me were becoming second nature to me very quickly. I was learning at a fast rate and this could be put down to the fact that the support that I was receiving from my mentor was very good. If I had any problems then Suzy would help and explain things to me straight away and I felt that I could ask questions without being seen as a hindrance. Also, the fact that I was stationed on the same desk as her meant that help was never too far away. Despite the unquestioned support, I wanted to try and be as independent as possible and only ask for guidance when absolutely necessary. This I felt meant that I learnt a lot more a lot quicker due to the fact that I was solving problems myself. This in turn helped me to understand the marketing environment better.
After 2 weeks I was pretty comfortable with my role in Strawberry Fields. I felt as it is a relatively small company it meant that there was no loss of communication from top to bottom so instructions were very easy to follow.
The third week came and my employer informed me that she was going on holiday for one week but that she had set up some work for me to do over the week that she would be gone. I was quite daunted by the prospect of having to go and meet a client by myself, however I thought I would embrace the opportunity and treat it as a great opportunity to work in the industry independently.
I went to meet the client which was Champions, sound recording studios and event hosting company located in Bournemouth. I introduced myself and asked how we could assist his business. After a discussion about what their needs were, using the experience I had gained from a meeting earlier with Left and Right Clothing it emerged that they needed a business report on how to target students better.
Using my business report writing skills that I had gained from my first year at Bournemouth University I was able to write a report detailing how Champions could target students better. I was very intrigued as to how they would take my advice as it was the first report that I had written for a real world company to put into practice.
After they looked at what I had written they decided that they would go with a few of the recommendations I had made and were appreciative of the points I had highlighted as weaknesses. They decided that flyering, targeted directly to student accommodations was a good idea and ordered 700 flyers to be printed and distributed. Furthermore, I also recommended that they set up a stall at the next years Fresher’s Fair and distribute ‘goodie bags’ with advertisements of their company in them in order to make the students aware of the company.
The week went well with 3 meetings taking place on my own with them. I was unable to contact my mentor during that week as she turned off all communication systems as she was on holiday but still felt that I coped well. On her return Suzy informed me that Champions had contacted her and that they had asked her to say thanks for all my work, which I was really pleased about as this meant that they thought I done a good job and was a real confidence boost going into my further weeks with Strawberry Fields.
When tasks were being assigned to me now I was approaching them with a new point of view. Instead of being anxious about them I was getting on with what needed to be done, I could understand were Suzy was coming from more now due to the fact that I had been in the company for 3 weeks now so had a good understanding of what the company was about, what they did, how they did it and why they did it.
Learning the marketing aspects of the job was all I really thought I was going to learn from this work placement. However, Suzy mentioned to me that she needed to chase up some of the bills that were outstanding; this made me intrigued as to how she goes about setting her prices for her service, an intangible thing that seemed to be based on advice rather than her actually directly changing a business. Learning about this I thought was brilliant as I didn’t have much knowledge about it before and she went on to tell me about something completely new. She told me that some of her clients didn’t pay her any money at all, which I was very shocked to hear as I was thinking how can she be making money? The way that the company gained from this was called a contra-deal. Rather than exchanging money you exchange the goods or services that your company offers.
So we would offer the company marketing advice and they would offer us their product/service for example clothing, printing, etc. There are many different things that can be beneficial to a business to help reduce outgoing costs.
I carried on my work at Strawberry Fields and was a lot more independent than in previous weeks. I was assigned more tasks as Suzy was very keen to ensure that I was kept busy and always had something to do so that I benefited from this placement as much as she did. By now I was asked to do presentations to her pitching ideas for different events. Such as the Trouville Hotel in Bournemouth wanted ideas on how to attract more people to their Christmas dinners. Allegoric, a design company who had great work also needed ideas for their business.
I was also asked to carry out and make databases of companies in specific areas. This would involve using the internet to find contact details and company names of whatever area necessary in order to have your target market in one place to assist with mailing lists.
When we went to the BIC in Bournemouth for a meeting with the marketing managers about their new events that they were going to be running I was very surprised when Suzy asked me to be responsible for updating their mailing list. I had to ring and confirm names, emails and numbers and update any out of date information to ensure that the BIC didn’t lose contact with important people to their business.
The whole experience of my first marketing placement was all very exciting. I received help from the placements lecturer in order to help find a placement to a certain level and advised how to go about and approach the placement. This helped me because it meant that I was more prepared than I would have been going into it which made it easier to settle in.
Looking back on it all I feel that I gained majorly from it. I experienced the full working week for the first time which made me realise not only how lucky I am to have so little lecture time compared to it but that hard work gives good results. Being in the working environment meant that I gained more practically than I could ever in a class room die to the fact that actually being there, carrying out the tasks meant that I could take it in better and appreciate what I was learning better than it being written on a computer.
I am glad that I done my placement as it adds to experience I can show to future employers and also because it enables me to understand more things first time in the class room after doing the placement as I can use examples from my experiences there and use them to explain the rationale behind marketing theories.