Reflective Journal Essay
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A reflective journal is a way of thinking in a critical and analytical way about your work in progress. It shows how different aspects of your work interconnect.
The journal can record: • where your inspiration comes from • how you make use of your ideas to develop your work • your awareness of the cultural context (setting) in which you work This context includes: other artists’ work and their ideas; the ideas of critics and theorists; social, political, aesthetic and ideological contexts. The journal could include: • research notes • personal comments on your own work • notes/images from gallery visits • quotes • extracts from lectures, tutorials, books, journals • photos/sketches
Critical and analytical writing
Critical writing involves many of the same processes as when reading.
So what is Critical reading? To read critically is to make judgements about how a text is written and argued. This is a highly reflective skill requiring you to ‘stand back’ from the text you are reading. You might have to read a text through once to get a basic grasp of content before you launch into an intensive critical reading.
These are the keys: • don’t read only for information (surface approach) • do read for clues about views and opinions (deep approach) This means: • comparing the same issue from different points of view • identifying an argument (analysis of ideas/opinions) in the text • identifying conclusions and spotting how different people arrive at different conclusions • deciding what you think, based on the evidence available Then, in your own writing: • look at the subject from different viewpoints • show a clear line of reasoning • present evidence to support your reasoning • be clear what your conclusions are
Here are some ways to help you read critically: • read beginning and end of text to get an overview • colour code different viewpoints • underline key words, phrases, or sentences • write comments in the margins (use stickers if it’s not your book) • bracket important sections of the text • show links with lines or arrows • number related points in sequence
What is reflective writing?
Reflective writing is evidence of looking back at an event, idea, object, experience, process, etc It involves: • analysing and commenting on the object, process, etc from different points of view using contemporary ideas and theories • exploring and explaining the importance or relevance of the object, process, etc • considering things that went wrong as well as successes • saying what the object, process, etc means to you • saying how your learning will influence the way you work
How to structure reflective writing
1 2 Description (don’t make this too long) What is it? What happened? Why am I talking about it? Interpretation What is important, relevant, interesting, useful? How is it similar to or different from others? How can it be explored, explained using contemporary theories? Outcome What have I learned from this? How will it influence my future work?