Reflective Writing

Find information on:

  • 3 reflective models: Jasper, Driscoll, Gibbs
  • Journals
  • Sketchbooks
  • Evaluations

What is reflective writing?

Reflective model adapted from Jasper (2003) and Driscoll (2007)

  • Reflective writing involves documenting, questioning and assessing your practice.
  • It is usually written in the first person (I, me, my) because it discusses personal experiences.
  • Focus on key events rather than trying to cover everything.
  • This could include positive or critical incidents ‘which we interpret as a problem or challenge’ (Bassot, 2016, p. 42).
  • A basic pattern (see above) involves describing what occurred, reflecting on why this might be significant and what has been learnt, and thinking about your next actions.
  • You can learn more about reflective writing in the video below from Hull University.


Where will I use reflective writing?

1. Reflective journals

  • Similar to a diary, it records your thoughts about events or experiences.
  • Think about highs, lows and future actions.
  • Reflective journals can track your progress and aid writing personal statements or CVs.
  • Gibbs’ (1888, cited in William, Woolliams and Spiro, 2016, p. 91) cycle can aid detailed reflection. See the sequence below.
  • Description: What happened?
  • Feelings: What were you thinking or feeling?
  • Evaluation: What was good or bad about the experience?
  • Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation?
  • Conclusion: What else could you have done?
  • Action: If it arose again, what would you do?
    Gibbs' Reflective Cycle

    Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle


2. Sketchbooks

Example of a sketchbook page

Example: Grayson Perry’s Sketchbook 

  • Sketchbooks may include initial drawings and ideas, design development, sources of inspiration, technical information, material samples and experiments.
  • Overall, they act as a space to ‘pause, record, reflect, move on’ (Greenless, 2005, p. 13).
  • As part of recording, use annotation to document process (what materials, processes or techniques were used), analysis (why you did it) and evaluation (how effective it was).


3. Evaluations

  • Evaluations reflect back on a completed project; this may include stages such as aims, research, experimentation and final outcomes.
  • They also involve considering both strengths and weaknesses.
  • Try the SWOT analysis framework (below) to get started.



Study Skills Toolkit
These study guides have prompt questions for reflective journals, annotating sketchbooks and writing an evaluation

E-book resources 

Try these resources available on Ebook Central :

The following sources were used for this page:

  • Bassot, B. (2016) The reflective journal. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Greenless, K. (2005) Creating sketchbooks for embroiderers and textile artists. London: B. T. Batsford.
  • Moon, J. (2006) Learning journals. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.
  • Stobart, J. (2011) Extraordinary sketchbooks. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • The Guardian (2016) Inside Grayson Perry’s sketchbook. Available at: (Accessed: 22 May 2019).
  • Williams, K., Wolliams, M. and Spiro, J. (2012) Reflective writing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.