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Reflective Writing on Marketing Essay

During your time at university you will spend a lot of your time thinking – thinking about what people have said, your reading, your own thinking and how your thinking has changed. The thinking process involves two aspects: reflective thinking and critical thinking. Rather than being two separate processes they are closely connected. (Brookfield 1987) Reflective thinking

Reflection is a form of personal response to experiences, situations, events or new information. It is a ‘processing’ phase where thinking and learning take place. There is neither a right nor wrong way of reflective thinking; there are just questions to explore. The reflective thinking process starts with you. Before you can begin to assess the words and ideas of others, you need to pause and identify and examine your own thoughts. This involves revisiting your prior experience and knowledge of the topic you are exploring. It also involves considering how and why you think the way you do. The examination of your beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions forms the foundation of your understanding. Reflective thinking demands that you recognise that you bring valuable knowledge to every experience. It helps you therefore to recognise and clarify the important connections between what you already know and what you are learning. It is a way of helping you to become an active, aware and critical learner.

What is Reflective writing?
Reflective writing is:
* Your response to experiences, opinions, events or new information * Your response to thoughts and feelings
* A way of thinking to explore your learning
* An opportunity to gain self-knowledge
* A way to achieve clarity and better understanding of what you are learning * A chance to develop and reinforce writing skills
* A way of making meaning out of what you study
Reflective writing is not:
* Just conveying information, instruction or argument
* Pure description, though there may be descriptive elements *
Straightforward decision or judgement (e.g. about whether something is right or wrong, good or bad) * Simple problem-solving

* A summary of unit notes
* A standard university essay
Why you are asked to do this type of assignment
* To make connections
The idea behind reflective writing is that what you learn at university builds on your prior knowledge, whether it is formal (education) or informal (gained through experience). Reflective writing helps you develop and clarify the connections between what you already know and what you are learning, between theory and practice and between what you are doing and how and why you do it.

* To examine your learning processes
Reflective writing encourages you to consider and comment on your learning experiences – not only WHAT you’ve learned, but HOW you did so.

* To clarify what you are learning
Reflecting helps you to clarify what you have studied, integrate new knowledge with previous knowledge, and identify the questions you have and what you have yet to learn.

* To reflect on mistakes and successes
Reflecting on mistakes can help you avoid repeating them. At the same time, reflecting on your discoveries helps identify successful principles to use again.

* To become an active and aware learner

* To become a reflective practitioner once you graduate and begin your professional life

How to write reflectively
What to discuss
* Your perceptions of the course and the content.

* Experiences, ideas and observations you have had, and how they relate to the course or topic.

* What you found confusing, inspiring, difficult, interesting and why.

* Questions you have and conclusions you have drawn.

* How you solved a problem, reached a conclusion, found an answer or reached a point of understanding.

* Possibilities, speculations, hypotheses or solutions.

* Alternative interpretations or different perspectives on what you have read or done in your course.

* How new ideas challenge what you already know.

* What you need to explore next in terms of thoughts and actions.

* Comparisons and connections between what you are learning and: * Your prior knowledge and experience;
* Your prior assumptions and preconceptions;
* What you know from other courses, units or disciplines.

Writing style
As it concerns your thoughts, reflective writing is mostly subjective. Therefore, in addition to being reflective and logical, you can be personal, hypothetical, critical and creative. You can comment based on your experience, rather than limiting yourself to academic evidence. * Reflective writing is an activity that includes description (what, when, who) and analysis (how, why, what if). It is an explorative tool often resulting in more questions than answers. * Use full sentences and complete paragraphs.

* You can usually use personal pronouns like ‘I’, ‘my’ or ‘we’. * Keep colloquial language to a minimum (e.g. stuff, guys) * A reflective task may allow you to use different modes of writing and language: * Descriptive (outlining how something is or how something was done) * Explanatory (explaining why or how it is like that)

* Expressive (I think, I feel, I believe)

Tips for your reflective writing process
1. Think of interaction, event or episode you experienced that can be connected to the topic. 2. Describe what happened.
3. What was your role?
4. What feelings and perceptions surround the experience? 5. How would you explain the situation to someone else?
6. What might this experience mean in the context of your course? 7. What other perspectives, theories or concepts could be applied to the situation?

Brookfield, S 1987, Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting, Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

Acknowledgement: The preceding material was adapted from The Learning Centre, The University of NSW. Used by permission.

Additional notes:
Steps for writing a reflective paper:
1.Start your self-reflection paper with an introductory paragraph. This introduction should help set the stage for the reader and should contain the main point of the paper. This would be a good paragraph in which to include information about how the subject and the material impacted your life, whether it reinforced your current views or caused you to change your way of thinking. 2.Write a paragraph or two about the impact the lecturer,
classroom/tutorial discussions or the textbook material had on you during the course. Describe emotions you felt you felt or changes you experienced in your personal life due to the topic or the subject. If your opinions on different subjects changed due to these factors be sure to provide your previous opinion and explain why you changed your stance. If your opinions did not change, explain why. 3.Describe a moment during the class that was the most eye-opening for you. One example would be if during a lecture/tutorial the lecturer/tutor used a specific story or analogy to help explain the material that made the lesson really clear for you. Reflect on how you felt when you finally understood the lesson and how that lesson might have impacted the way you think. 4.Write a paragraph explaining how the information from the subject has impacted the way you will think, act and feel in the future long after the semester is over. You may want to include how this subject has changed how you approach other subjects in your degree or life in general. 5.Give feedback in your paper and share your opinions and ideas about how the subject can be improved. Share what you liked about the subject and what material helped you learn the most. Finish the paper by writing a conclusion that summarizes the main points of the paper.

This is just one way of structuring reflective writing. Whichever approach to reflection you use try to bear in mind the following key points: * Reflection is an exploration and an explanation of events – not just a description of them. * Genuinely reflective writing often involves ‘revealing’ anxieties, errors and weaknesses, as well as strengths and successes. This is fine (in fact it’s often essential), as long as you show some understanding of possible causes, and explain how you plan to improve. * It is normally necessary to select just the most significant parts of the event or idea on which you are reflecting. If you try to tell ‘the whole story’ you will likely use up your words on description rather than interpretation. * It is often useful to ‘reflect forward’ to the future as well as ‘reflecting back’ on the past. Vocabulary aid (adapted from University of Portsmouth, Dept for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement) The following are just a few suggestions for words and phrases that might be useful in reflective writing. Obviously, using these words and phrases will
not in itself make you a good reflective writer. 1.Description

There is no suggestion of specific vocabulary for any descriptive elements of your reflective writing because the range of possible events, ideas or objects on which you may be reflecting on is so great. However, if you are describing an idea, for example a theory or model, it is usually best to use the present tense e.g. ‘Buyer behaviour theory recognises…’ (not ‘recognised’). Events, of course, are nearly always described in the past tense. 2.Interpretation

| | {aspect(s){elements(s){experience(s){issue(s)Idea(s)| Was (were)| For me, the [most]| {meaningful{significant{important{relevant{useful| | | | | learning| {arose from…{happened when…{resulted from…| Previously,}At the time,}At first}Initially,}Subsequently,}Later,}| I| {thought (did not think)…{felt (did not feel)…{knew (did not know)…{noticed (did not notice)…{questioned (did not question)…{realised (did not realise)…| | [Alternatively,][Equally,]| This| {might be{is perhaps{could be{is probably| {because of…{due to…{explained by…{related to…| | This| {is similar to…{is unlike…| because|

| [Un]like…| this| {reveals…{demonstrates…|

Having| {read…{experienced…{applied…{discussed…{analysed…{learned…| I now| {feel…{think…{realise…{wonder…{question…{know…| | [Additionally,]}[Furthermore,]}[Most importantly,]}| I have learned that…| | I have significantly} slightly}However, I have not [sufficiently]}| {developed{improved| {my skills in…{my understanding of…{my knowledge of…{my ability to…| | | This means that…This makes me feel…| | |

This knowledge {isThis understanding {could beThis skill {will be| {essential{important{useful| {to me as a learner [because…]{to me as a practitioner [because…]| | Because I| {did not…{have not yet…{am not yet certain about…{am not yet confident about…{do
not yet know…{do not yet understand…| I will now need to…| | | As a next step, I need to…| | |

More on Reflection
What is reflection?
A simple definition of reflection can be ‘consciously thinking about and analysing what you are doing and what you have done; thinking about what and how you have learnt. There is a lot of theory behind reflection that can be very complex. Most of the theory relates to seeing reflection as part of the cycle of learning (Figure 1). Initially students focus on knowledge, comprehension and application of subject matter. These three levels of learning are the easiest especially if the application is in a limited context e.g. worded problems from a text book. For higher levels of learning (application of knowledge in real world problems) you must be able to analyse, synthesise and evaluate as shown in Table 1. Reflection is a key part of moving into these higher levels of learning.

Figure 1. Leaning cycle and examples of each phase

Table 1 Six levels of learning
Increasing Difficulty| Process| Explanation|
| Knowledge| Recognition and recall of information and facts – describing events| | Comprehension| Interprets, translates or summarises given information – demonstrating understanding of events| | Application| Uses information in a situation different from original learning context -| | Analysis| Separates wholes into parts until relationships are clear – breaks down experiences| | Synthesis| Combines elements to form new entity from the original one – draws on experience and other evidence to suggest new insights| | Evaluation| Involves acts of decision making, or judging based on criteria or rationale – makes judgements about|

Why reflect – what are the benefits to the student?
Learning is both an active and a reflective process. If you look at the learning cycle in Figure 1 you can see that reflection or thinking about what you have done and how and why you did it, form an integral part of
learning. Because learning is often subconscious, we don’t realise that we have gained new knowledge or understanding until we stop to contemplate a particular activity. Reflection then, is a way for critical analysis, problem solving, synthesis of opposing ideas, evaluation, identifying patterns and creating meaning. Reflection will help you reach the higher levels of learning.

Most students are focused on the lower levels of learning. “What do I have to know and demonstrate to pass the exam?” This is a very short-sighted approach to your time at university. You will not be able to remember all the facts and knowledge you have learnt in subjects unless you can fully understand, analyse and evaluate them. As you progress through your degree you will continually need information and knowledge from other subjects and this knowledge will build on previous knowledge. You must be able to attain the higher levels of learning in order to be successful in your degree and later in your professional life. Your learning and the need to learn will not stop with the end of your university degree.

Most aspects of learning are common to all disciplines but sometimes there are different emphasises on certain learning skills. For example, generally speaking at university more emphasis is placed on the understanding of the methodology and the processes of problem solving. In this context, reflection will help you to detach yourself from the facts and put them into a larger context. Higher level courses at university as a business student bring a closer interaction between academic work and practical experience. Reflective practice here is critical in providing opportunities to identify areas for improvement and evaluation of the overall outcome including your decision making processes.

Reflection can help bridge the gap between theory and practice and will enable you to understand your own thinking and learning. Another benefit is that it encourages you to look beyond your academic accomplishment and recognise the depth and range of other transferable skills. University is more than learning about facts and figures, it is a life experience. You will not learn everything that you need in your professional life at
university. Your learning will be life long, so take some time to think about what skills you bring with you to university and what you learn along the way. How do I ‘reflect’?

Reflection does not mean that you sit in the lotus position, humming meditative chants. Reflection can be active and need not take away from your ‘study time’. It is an important tool that can be used in all your university and professional work.

Opportunities for reflection should occur before, during and after activities. That way you can take note of your learning starting point, assess your progress through the project and critically evaluate your learning at the end of the activity. Look critically at what you have done, what you’re team did and what the outcomes were. You need to ask yourself the why, how and what type of questions.

Introducing Reflection

Reflection is an important part of your learning whether you do it consciously or not. But what exactly is it? An excellent description of reflection can be found in the Harry Potter novel ‘ The Goblet of Fire’. In the paragraph below Dumbledore, the chief wizard and head teacher, is talking to Harry about having excess thoughts!

‘Harry stared at the stone basin. The contents had returned to their original, silvery white state, swirling and rippling beneath his gaze.

“What is it?” Harry asked shakily.

“This? It is called a Pensieve,” said Dumbledore. “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

“Err,” said Harry who couldn’t truthfully say that he had ever felt anything of the sort.

“At these times” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “I use the Penseive. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into a basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.’ (Rowling 2000)

During the semester and in your reflective writing we are asking you to think about the process you have been through, how these events affected your behaviour, to think about what you have learnt, and to evaluate your performance. By writing these things down it will give you the opportunity to clarify your thoughts and to spot the patterns and links.

Reflective writing examples
As an example, look at the following two critiques – one is a better example than the other! [King (2002) Development of Student Skills In Reflective Writing, p 16, http://www.csd.uwa.edu.au/iced2002/publication/Terry_King.pdf ]

1.I woke up late because my alarm didn’t ring. My own fault, but there you are. By the time I had finished my breakfast (my usual bowl of cornflakes, and a cup of black coffee with three sugars), I had missed my bus (that’s the number 9a, picked up at the bus stop outside Halfords), which had left on time (just for a change).So I got to University, and by the time I had found the right room, I was over 30 minutes late for the OOPR2 Exam. Unfortunately, the invigilator wouldn’t let me take the exam because it was “against University regulations”. Didn’t he realise how important it was for me to pass that exam? My overall grade depends on it, and now I stand to have a resit in September when I wanted to have my holiday in Ibiza.| 2.I was over 30 minutes late for my exam, which meant I was not allowed to sit it. This will have repercussions on my degree mark, and on my holiday plans. This is the first time I have actually missed an exam, but not the first time I’ve actually been late to exams and important interviews. I have learned that:• I need to improve my time-keeping for critical events• The University has strict rules governing late arrivals at exams• I need to be better preparedThe reasons that I arrived late were:• My alarm clock didn’t ring because I forgot to reset its time after daylight saving on Saturday night (although I had reset all the other clocks in the house).• I totally rely on the alarm clock ringing – I have no back-up system• I rely on my bus – a break down or it leaving early would also cause me to be late• I did not know in which room the exam was; if I had, I would still have been a few minutes late, but at least I could have sat the exam.In order to improve the situation for next year, I plan to:• Have a process to check all the clocks in the house when the clocks are due to change• Make sure I have a back-up alarm system (using my digital watch) for all days when it’s important to get up early• On exam day, aim to catch the earlier bus … its only 20 minutes earlier.• Possibly consider missing breakfast, and buying a sandwich on the way from the bus to the exam room. I do believe that a good breakfast is important though!• Make sure I know the correct room well in advance of the exam, by checking each room number when I first get the timetable.I suspect I need to reflect more on my priorities – this degree is really very important to me.|

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