Guide to Writing a Reflective Essay

What is reflection?

Our ability to reflect, or learn from our experiences, is an effective form of learning.   Learning takes place when we reflect on our personal experiences and try to make sense of them in terms of our prior understandings of the world (ie conceptual maps, values, theories and interests) or appraise them in terms of new concepts, frameworks, theories and experiences that we are exposed too.   An important aspect of reflective learning is that it allows us to plan better ways of dealing with similar experiences in the future.

"It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn.   Without reflecting upon this experience it may be quickly forgotten, or its learning potential lost.   It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated.   And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively." (Gibbs, 1988).

Why a reflective essay?

Reflecting on your communication experiences and linking these experiences to the communication concepts and theories you will learn in "Business Communication" (1016MGT) is a particularly effective way to learn about your own and other peoples' communicative styles (strengths and weaknesses).   These reflections will also guide you in more effective communicative experiences in the future. Reflective thinking is also a key step to critical thinking and analysis.

Overview of the reflective essay

You are asked to reflect on your own and your group members' communication during preparation of the oral presentation.   You also need to apply theoretical material introduced in the lectures to assist this analysis and plan for more effective future interactions.  

Hint 1: It might be useful for you to begin writing weekly reflective notes in a journal on your own and others' interactions to serve as source notes in the drafting of your assignment.   See the reflection worksheet at the end of this section.   This...