Reflective writing allows you to explore your own life experiences, knowledge, thoughts, feelings, values and assumptions through an informal writing process.

In relation to your learning as a student at Curtin, your reflective writing exercises and assignments will enable you to explore how you are experiencing and responding to your life as both a Curtin student and as an individual outside of University. Reflective writing prompts you to ask questions and explore topics deeply, therefore building upon your critical thinking skills.

How to write reflectively

Good reflective writing is not about pure description or listing information. Good reflective writing presents the full story: it captures the essential aspects of a particular event or topic through the five W questions: who, what, where, when and why, countered by how.

Real reflective practice invites you to examine your feelings towards your learning as it happens. It requires confidence and honesty in sharing your experiences and expectations. It means acknowledging your successes as well as your failures, and identifying what you might do differently in future.

Reflective writing is one of the rare forms of academic writing that allows you to write in first person — it is all about YOU and YOUR experiences. It is considered a more informal style of academic writing, but may still require formal language and references to relevant texts.

Reflective writing structure

The structure of your reflective assignment may be in the form of an essay, or more of a journal style. As with any assignment, you should make sure your reflective writing flows logically, and explores each point in full before moving onto the next one. Your tutor will outline the type of assignment they want you to write, or may allow you to decide for yourself what format you would like to use. Check your marking rubric if you’re unsure.

Models for Reflective Writing

Gibbs Model of Reflective Practice

Description: What happened?
Feelings and thoughts: What were you thinking and feeling before, during and after the event?
Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience?
Analysis: What explanations might there be for the situation? Why did it happen the way it happened?
Conclusion: What have you learnt?
Action Plan: In a similar situation in the future, what would you do?

What? So what? What now? Model of Reflection


  • What happened?
  • What did you do?
  • What did you expect?
  • What was different?
  • What was your reaction?
  • What did you learn?

So what?

  • Why does it matter?
  • What are the meanings of the experience?
  • What are the consequences of the experience?
  • How does the experience and what you have learnt relate to what you are learning at university?
  • How does the experience and what you have learnt relate to what you do, or will do professionally?

What now?

  • What are you going to do now?
  • How will you use what you have learnt?

Reflective writing scenarios

Listed below are topics or scenarios you may be required to reflect upon throughout your studies.

  • Your learnings while undertaking a clinical or teaching placement
  • Your experiences while on a faculty placement or internship
  • The events of a field trip and how they shaped your understanding
  • The challenges and learnings you experienced while working on a group project.

  • Your personal views of what you are learning in relation to the unit content
  • Comparing and making links between what you are learning and the knowledge you bring with you
  • An evaluation of your own beliefs, assumptions and values and how they are changing through your studies.

  • Explaining your understanding of the main ideas
  • Describing what ideas you agree or disagree with and why
  • How the main ideas are significant in relation to other texts you are reading or examining
  • How the text is challenging your own thinking and assumptions.

  • What are my beliefs about life in general?
  • What are my ethical values?
  • What are my social/cultural attitudes?
  • How does my upbringing impact my view of the world?