From journals to reflective essays

Sometimes a learning journal may be the basis for an essay. If you are doing a professional course - for example, in the area of health and social work - you will be required to write essays that bring together theory and practice: to relate what you have learnt from experience in the field to theories that you have learnt on your university-based course. You will need to relate 'doing' to 'book learning'. This produces assignments that are different from the standard essay. The reflective essay is a mixture of an academic and a professional approach. On the one hand, you may be expected to bring in your personal experience of what happened in a particular case, while on the other hand, you have to make reference to theory, as if you were writing a standard academic essay. So within one piece of work you have to move between different kinds of writing. The next section is designed to help you break down what is involved in writing a reflective essay. While the task is particularly relevant for professional courses, it may also be useful for any course that contains a practical element, such as a group project or fieldwork.

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