Reflective writing: feelings & evaluation

time to complete: 20-25 minutes

Let’s now turn to the next two stages in Gibbs reflective cycle: feelings and evaluation. We are combining these sections of the reflective practice because these two aspects can and often are presented together.


The content of this section focuses on how you experienced the events internally. That is, the thoughts and feelings that were prompted by the situation. If you keep a personal diary, you might find this section a bit easier; but for many students this section may be difficult, especially if articulating thoughts and feelings may seem inappropriate for academic writing.

The following questions may help guide you:


It is perfectly acceptable – and even expected in many cases – to express feelings and thoughts that you may consider negative such as insecurity, frustration, lack of confidence, etc. That is not a bad thing because learning is often the result of reflecting on a negative experience and deciding to do something differently the next time. Remember that we are more likely to reflect on events that gave rise to negative feelings, rather than events dealt successfully. Below are some examples:

My lack of confidence meant that I had little communication with Joseph verbally but I was very conscious of my non-verbal communication as I did not want this to provoke the situation.

I was a bit worried when we did not get plenty of questions, and I felt that I had failed my group. I was concerned that we were not well prepared. 

Beginning my first third year placement I can honestly say that I felt more apprehensive and nervous than at any other time during my course.


To evaluate the events and accompanying thoughts and feelings means to think about what was good and bad about the experience. That may include thinking in retrospect what you could or would have done differently, or what worked well.

Here are some evaluative questions to help guide you:

You will notice that there may be some overlap between the content of these sections and description. This is normal. External events, including our actions, have an impact on our thoughts and feelings and, in turn, are influenced by them. As a result, it is very difficult to completely separate them in writing. You might need to repeat briefly here something you mentioned earlier.

What language do I need?

Like in the description stage, the language in the feelings and evaluation sections is focused on past events and their associated thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it will be marked by the following aspects:

In the beginning,  I felt that…

During our first seminar discussion, I felt…

When the group members argued about the presentation order, I felt…

I felt

I thought

I had assumed

I had never experienced such…

I found it very…

I was becoming more…

Evaluative language includes adjectives or nouns that give a positive or negative attribute to something.


For me, one of the most important / relevant / effective / critical / difficult / challenging / serious / problematic … was

To me, this seemed to be a(n) … issue / problem / challenge / barrier / solution / advantage / strength / limitation that …

I felt nervous

I was surprised at how…

I was content with…

This actually made me feel distressed

I suddenly become worried that…

The group did not seem happy with…

… was one of the most rewarding experiences in my…

Words/phrases that signal a cause/effect relationship are very important here because they justify your feeling/evaluation.


When I was asked to design a lesson plan on my own, I felt insecure about its quality as I had never designed one for a real lesson before.

At the time, I was very excited about the prospect of designing my first real lesson plan because I never had the chance to do that during my studies.

Let’s do some practice now. You will read an extract that focuses on the reflective practice in a social work degree. The writer of this reflection was asked to consider the role and responsibilities of a social worker in terms of power and diversity.

Task: Read the extract and answer the four questions.

Text adapted from Foote, Quinney and Taylor (2013)