Reflective writing: analysis

time to complete: 20-25 minutes

The previous example from Feelings & Evaluation featured some analysis and sources (see in-text citations). The sources in that section generalised the individual experience of the writer and provided the theoretical context for their evaluation.

This colour blind approach arose from my inability to see the power I possessed through my skin colour, and the consequent lack of power experienced by ethnic minority groups. Reflection has stirred strong emotions of guilt, feelings of ignorance and anger at myself, as Dominelli (1997) argues this approach contains aspects which endorse white supremacy. Tatum (1994) suggests that white students learning about racism experience feelings similar to my own and this, she suggests, leads many to resist learning. Applying the knowledge I gained from reading academic texts and reflecting on my practice enabled me to acknowledge my oppressive ways however painful this was and to change my practice as a result.

Text adapted from Foote, Quinney and Taylor (2013)

When you analyse the experience, you try to make sense of it. That means, you place the event(s) within the context of knowledge in the field – you try to explain the reasons behind what happened using sources from your research and studies and you compare it with other similar events in literature. This section is the most ‘academic’ part of your reflection. Therefore it is likely to include referencing, and to be written in a more formal, academic style.


As you dig deeper into the meaning of your experiences and their effect on you, you will need to draw from the wider context of knowledge to put them into perspective, both for yourself and for your reader. Depending on your assignment guidelines, you can do the following:

specific general

My experience of designing a lesson plan for cover may be a common situation with other teaching assistants and raises the question of how well an undergraduate degree in education may prepare new teachers for the actual demands of a job.

issue: perspective 1 vs perspective 2

There is a wider debate as to the role of university education. Is the goal to provide the learner with theoretical knowledge, as Smith (2010) has argued? Or, as many education experts argue (cf. Johnson 2013; Lee 2015; Agarwal 2015; Bankole 2019), is it to equip learners with practical skills that will be useful in their professional career, especially in light of rising unemployment?

issue + link to theory/research

Fostering lifelong learning as well as teaching employable skills, which are in line with the Bologna structure (Siwne and Alves 2010), should be key aspects of any graduate program, and especially an education degree.

What language do I need?

The language of this section is largely the same language you would use in a research-based paper (e.g. essay, report, literature review, etc.) in combination with reflective language seen in the sections earlier.

This means that you are most likely to use the following:

Let’s do some practice now.

Task: You will organise an extract from the analysis section of a reflective. Pay close attention to the language in order to identify the rhetorical purposes and order.

Text adapted from SMILE, Glasgow Caledonian University (no date)

Task: Read the extract again. This time you will identify the various linguistic features that can be found in the analysis section of a reflection. If needed, to use the Fullscreen button (click on blue arrow).

Text adapted from SMILE, Glasgow Caledonian University (no date)

Do you need more practice? You can identify a few more examples in the same extract.

Text adapted from SMILE, Glasgow Caledonian University (no date)