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Critical Reflection Essay: Contemplating structure

It is always great to see a reflective essay as an assessment piece. Real world.

Developing Your Reflective Writing Voice

Throughout the essay you are making reference to your personal views, feelings, behaviours and decisions. It is critical that you link this lived experience to literature (i.e., start with class notes and assigned journal readings).

In this way, your reflections and links to research help you to be aware of what you believe, why and your reasons for taking a particular viewpoint (or carrying out an action).

You become much more transparent to yourself, as well as others. And that helps you to develop as a professional in terms of communication, representation, and networking resources and information.

Job ready graduates require confidence and competence in handling large amounts of new data, and then critically analysing information to apply with care plans/policies/projects/interventions etc. Your ability to cognitively and emotionally reflect will hone your professional skills to meet community and personal needs.

Reflection on Structure

The reflective essay follows a similar structure to a descriptive or critical essay (Intro, Body and Conclusion). The difference is in the ability to use 1st and 2nd person pronouns in your writing~ yah! me, my, I, our and we are go.

Attend to the word count, which will be noted in your subject outline for that assignment. Be aware that sometimes your lecturer or tutor will provide you with an Outline, perhaps even with a word count (it does happen ~:-) So check emails, Blackboard and word of mouth.

Here is a structure that is easy to expand or compress depending on your content needs:

1500 words: Critical Essay
[n.b. 1 page = 250 words]
Introduction: 250w
  • Open the topic

  • Define key words

  • Highlight models/theories/conclusions and research methods (that will be fleshed out in the Body)

  • This critical essay [will demonstrate that] ................ First, ................ presented. Second, .................. discussed. Next, .......... will be detailed. Finally a conclusion will [summarise that which came before]

Body (1000 words or 333 words per Point)
  • Point 1: define, highlight key research conclusions and methods

  • Point 2: rinse and repeat with regards to Point 1

  • Point 3: ditto with regards to Points 1 and 2

Conclusion (250 words)
Remind the Reader what you have told them, and the interesting or pertinent highlights across the literature you have critically reviewed.
Are there gaps in your understanding? Are there gaps for current models/theories/conclusions/research methods? Can you make/note others recommendations for future research/critical reflection in this field?
Tell the Reader who will benefit from more research/critical reflection in this field.
APA Formatting
Use APA formatting from your Outline or First Draft stages:
  • Your paper will look professional

  • Standardisation --> the assignment looking less confusing

  • You get practice --> saves Time = More Life!

  • Recognising professional literature = 'Knowing the club signs'

  • You will write a better argument

  • You will meet the word count effortlessly

I suggest that you create a separate document for References, to that you can toggle between windows rather than scrolling your Drafts. Leaving the polished formatting to last on my References list, I cut and paste all the details alphabetically (inc. a link where relevant).
Take Away ...
Use an Outline, plot your word count, apply APA formatting from the get-go, and challenge your considerations of yourself, the world and your learning experience at uni.

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