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Reflective Journaling is a tool to capture your deeper thinking, feelings and ideas and creates clarity to questions or help in making decisions or just create self awareness.

Reflective Journaling

Reflective Journaling

About The Course

Reflective journaling can offer added value for everyone. In both work and private life, it helps to stimulate critical thinking and improve decision-making skills. It also helps parents to think about how they can promote development in themselves and their children. Finally, it can help students develop their personal skills.

Reflective Journaling

After this experience you will be able to:

Optimise Your Learning with Reflective Journaling

Reflection is a natural part of life. You’ll find yourself mulling over something that’s happened to you or something you’ve observed. Or, after planning what to do and carrying out the plan, it’s normal to think back on whether the action was successful or not. You also wonder how to do things better next time.

You can reflect on a situation or event while it’s happening or when it’s over. You can also do it through diary entries or by discussing your thoughts and learnings with others. By sharing lessons from our experience, you can approach future challenges differently than you did the first time. In effect, reflection can align your next steps in life toward success or a desired outcome.

What is Reflective Journaling?

Reflective writing springs out of reflective thinking. In an academic setting, professors may require you to submit reflective papers on a piece of writing, artwork, experiment, or other activity. In the corporate world, employees may have to turn in a reflection about an issue or a completed project. But at its core, this type of writing goes beyond describing or stating your observations about an experience. You express how it affected you and how you plan to act on the new knowledge that you acquired along the way.

Common Characteristics of Reflective Writing

  • Subjective
    In reflective writing, you share your point of view—motivations and feelings—about a theory, writing, object, or incident.
  • First-person point of view
    Examples include “I realised that…,” “After this activity, I found _ to be significant because…,” and “For me, the (most) relevant/meaningful idea/learning arose when….”
  • Critical and analytical
    You write in an evaluative tone, but you’re not making a straightforward judgment, argument, or list of instructions. Instead, reflective writing involves challenging your assumptions as well as comparing and contrasting your beliefs with those of others.
  • Lessons
    You write about what worked and what didn’t work during the process and how you plan to apply these insights in the future.

Purpose Reflective Journaling

The practice of keeping a reflective journal can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • It boosts causal learning. Reflective writing helps you make connections between theory and practice. It also helps you process new knowledge considering your previous knowledge on the matter.
  • It develops self-awareness. You gain a more realistic image of yourself after recalling your thoughts and feelings when confronted by a situation and identifying your strengths and weaknesses at that moment. Acknowledging difficulties and being honest about what went wrong results in authenticity. You can also use a reflective journal to keep track of what you’re learning or doing to gauge your progress, speed, and output.
  • It promotes self-empowerment. The reflective journaling process stretches your communication skills from asking questions and recounting experiences to establishing insights and setting goals. Thus, you gain clarity and deeper knowledge about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how you’re doing it. Moreover, the problem-solving and decision-making insights you acquire help you respond better to circumstances in the future.

Reflective Writing Models

The focus and content of a reflective piece vary, depending on your intended reader or readers. There are several popular models for academic reflective writing, which you can use for self-reflective journaling. You’ll notice that they share a common structure:

DEAL (Dr. Patti Clayton)
  1. Describe the experience.
  2. Examine it from a personal, civic, and academic perspective.
  3. Articulate learning.
DIEP (David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker)
  1. Describe the event.
  2. Interpret what happened.
  3. Evaluate the usefulness of your realisation or insight.
  4. Plan how you can apply your new learning in the future.
Terry Borton
  1. What? (initial observation)
  2. So what? (meaning or opinion derived from the experience)
  3. Now what? (action to take based on lessons)
Graham Gibbs
  1. Description
  2. Feelings
  3. Evaluation (the good and bad aspects of an experience)
  4. Analysis (making sense of the situation)
  5. Conclusion Action plan
5Rs Framework (John Bain)
  1. Reporting (description of incident)
  2. Responding (emotional or personal response)
  3. Relating (making a connection between current personal and theoretical understanding)
  4. Reasoning (discussing factors behind the incident)
  5. Reconstruction (developing a plan for future action)

How to Write a Reflective Journal

You can start reflective journaling by taking the following steps:

1. Begin with free writing.
Free writing is jotting down or encoding your thoughts without worrying about your grammar, spelling, or style. Continuously write anything that enters your head. Avoid re-reading what you just wrote. When you get stuck, rewrite the last word a few times until you get a new idea for your next sentence.
This takes away perfectionism, which often hinders writing. Devote about 10 minutes or so for this exercise, guided by questions to serve as your writing prompts.

2. Record yourself.
The Fear Talking author Dr. Christopher Westoby recommends making audio recordings of yourself sharing your thoughts on a subject as it has worked with some of his students.

3. Choose your self-reflection journal prompts.
The topics for reflective journaling are limitless. Here are some you can try:

Personal values and emotions

  • What opinion have you held in the past that you have changed or questioned? What caused the shift?
  • Is there anything that can easily disrupt your good mood? What can you do to counter their effects?
  • What would you try if you knew you could not fail?

Love and relationships

  • How can you better show appreciation for your loved ones? 
  • Who is the person that you trust the most? Why?
  • Name three things that are working well in your current relationship and three things you can improve on.


  • What part of your workday do you enjoy the most?
  • Does your work overwhelm or drain you? Why and are there steps you can do to change this?
  • What are your career ambitions? What three things can you do today to start achieving them?
  • improve on.
4. Make and follow an outline.
As in any writing, your journal entry should have an introduction, body and conclusion. Each paragraph should emphasise one idea. You can refer to any of the reflection models discussed earlier to guide the flow of your ideas.

Reflective Journal Examples

Check out these reflection samples about one’s personal identity and another’s first clinical experience. By mastering self-reflective writing, you can position yourself for student and professional reflective journal writing success.

Sign up for our Reflective Journaling e-course today!


Arthur Lankester

Arthur Lankester is a passionate trainer and coach helping individuals and organisations in developing ‘transformational capabilities’. Simply said, Arthur help’s people to develop skills to go through complex personal or organizational changes’. Arthur is graduated (Msc.) Psychologist and Master of Business Administration.

We help organizations in developing ‘transformative leadership capabilities’

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    Our team has expertise you can count on. We’ve worked with small to the world biggest businesses, as well as some of the most niche.

  • Continuously Growing

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When can I start with the e-learning course?

This e-learning course can be started at any moment. The course contains video's and exercises which can be followed at your own speed.

What is the entry level for this course?

This e-learning course doesn't require pre-qualifications. This course is beginners level and everyone can start this course.

Do I get a certificate?

This is a short e-learning course where you don't receive a certificate.

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