Let's Talk About Reflective Writing

Let’s talk about REFLECTION.

The function of Reflective Writing in the classroom is to help students consider their own practical process as they learn. Often, reflective writing exercises can push students to new awarenesses of themselves as students, learners, scholars. Different from formal or academic writing, reflective writing is often ungraded writing that students do for themselves, and it can help them develop a deeper understanding of a topic and to make connections to other experiences and ideas.

Research shows us that metacognition is vital to learning. By metacognition, we mean awareness of one’s own thought process. You might even call this mindfulness. If we can get students to write about their own learning process as they are learning in our classes, to get a view of their own process, they can begin to see where they have been and where they are heading. Reflective writing helps students create new perspectives. As teachers, we also know that if we can disrupt our students' prior knowledge we can BUILD on that knowledge. Asking our students to write reflectively about larger aspects of the course itself, or prior courses, or their own experiences as learners helps to make a space for real critical thinking and learning.

Good reflective writing asks student to reflect on not only what they did but what thought while doing it. Self assessment can be a beneficial learning tool for students because it gives them perspective on their own learning process. Research shows that this perspective helps to facilitate the transfer of knowledge (from one course to another). So, the next time you assign a project or paper, you might take a few minutes after that project is complete to ask your students to write about their process. How did it go, writing this paper? Was it your best work? Why or why not? How is your writing process evolving? Why did you revise what you did, and how do you think that improved your paper? 

Feel free to contact WAC Director, Chris Salerno, at Salernoc3@wpunj.edu if you'd like to talk about ways to incorporate these or any other writing exercises into your course.