Reflective writing is the evidence of reflective thinking and reflective thinking is part of the critical thinking process where people analyse, evaluate and make judgements about behaviour, events, experiences and outcomes to make sense of what happened and to learn how to do things differently in future situations. The practice of reflective thinking will be introduced in this assessment task along with critical analysis skills.
Reflective thinking is an intellectual exercise that not only requires people to think about past happenings, but to also identify and acknowledge how their personal bias, beliefs and assumptions impact the process. It is well known that effective managers are skilled in the process of reflection and reflective thinking. In this assessment task you are asked to write a reflective essay which is an exercise for you in developing your critical thinking skills. A reflective essay requires you to think about and write about your ideas in relation to a specific topic and it is important to clearly understand what you are being asked to reflect on and how you feel about the topic as part of the process.
For this critical reflection you are required to consider a specific personal example from your workplace that will allow you to write about and reflect upon an ethical issue that has left you feeling troubled, maybe asking yourself how and/or why the particular outcome happened and/or perhaps where you feel you learned a valuable lesson. At the conclusion of the reflection you are required to think back on the corporate ethics and governance material (the literature) you have covered in this semester and provide recommendations or suggestions for how this workplace (or other workplaces) could minimise or prepare for this type of issue or incident happening in the future. We can never remove these issues completely but we can prepare for and recognise them and react appropriately in the workplace. You are asked to make specific recommendations (supported by your reflection and discussion) for changes to policy, practice or procedures that you believe would help in this.
The three key elements of this assessment task are:
1. that the experience you write about has to be personal – something YOU experienced or that had an impact on YOU. Don’t reflect on issues, experiences or scenarios where YOU personally were not affected. Because a reflection exercise is quite personal you will need to explore your own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, prejudices and knowledge about the topic so that you can gauge the level and degree of bias that you will need to moderate throughout your essay;
2. it has to be a workplace issue, something that happened either in the workplace or as a result or consequence of your work actions; and
3. it has to be an issue that has ethical implications. Either your own personal ethical values and principals or a workplace ethical issue.
For example if the topic is something that you feel strongly about (gender issues, stereotypes or prejudices in the workplace or environmental destruction), then you need to be careful that your essay does not just confirm or validate your original beliefs and feelings. Recognise and discuss your personal beliefs and biases, look at how they may have effected your thinking, behaviour and/or actions. Question the validity and accuracy of those beliefs and biases now that you have more information (theory) or insight. You need to ensure that you have truly explored the different perspectives, taken note of new or contradictory information and what insights this exercise has given you about your own views, feelings and beliefs.
The resources provided in the reflective thinking material on the study desk in the assignment area will give you some great insights into reflective writing and thinking that you may also find helpful. This will be a
very different writing style for many of you and will take some practice and at least two or three drafts to get it right. Critical reflection writing differs from the typical academic essay writing in a number of key ways as follows:
1. A critical essay makes use of the first person (this is your reflection and your journey)
2. A critical essay considers the self as an object of inquiry (how do you feel?)
3. A critical essay incorporates experiences as a form of evidence (When I was faced with a similar problem I did…)
4. Both types of writing need to integrate secondary sources of evidence to defend propositions and conclusions (theory about gender stereotypes suggests that…)
5. Both types of writing need to incorporate conventional technical writing conventions (grammar, spelling, and structured logic)
6. Both types of writing follow appropriate academic citation and referencing guidelines (Harvard AGPS).
In summary, a critical reflective essay requires you to consider the topic or issue posed and then describe the experience with details that prompt this reflection; Examine and analyse the experience through the integration of personal experiences and academic content to explain what has happened and why it may have occurred, and then discuss or provide possible responses, actions, changes that need to occur or recommendations and implications for the future.
Format Your essay and critical reflection should be no more than 3,000 words in length and take the format as described below and should include these 5 sections. More information and guidance on how to write a critical reflection is available in the information provided in the relevant topic on the study desk.
1. Introduction – The first part of your essay should describe what happened, what did you do, what was your role and what was the role of others involved? In this section you also need to make clear what the ethical issue was and why it was an issue. This section should be short, concise and factual. There is no need for emotion or feelings at this point.
2. Feelings/emotions – This next section is where you describe how you felt about the issue. You should discuss what were you thinking at the time, and perhaps the emotional state you were in when taking the actions you took or after the event occurred.
3. Evaluation – This next stage requires you to step back from the issue, think about what happened, how you acted, who played what roles and deconstruct the event. This is where you also refer to the theory you have just been reading about workplace ethics to help you to explain WHY you believe the scenario unfolded as it did, WHY the players (yourself included) reacted and performed as they did and WHY the outcomes were inevitable. You may explore your own personal ethical perspective as part of this process and reflect on how this may have impacted your thinking and actions and how this differs from or is similar to others who were involved in this issue and the consequences of this.
This evaluation should take the form of hypothesises or best guess as to why you think this event or issue played out as it did. You would discuss the consequences for you and for others, what you were trying to achieve and whether you achieved it. You would comment on what other knowledge or values should/could have been used to inform you at the time, as well as whether and how your actions matched or didn’t match your beliefs and values and personal ethical perspective. You would comment on other factors that you believed influenced how you and others behaved and what you and others said or did. Finally you would incorporate other sources of knowledge to assist you to explain and understand the dynamics of what happened by both you and other parties involved.
4. Personal Conclusions/Application – This section is your learnings. In this section you would write about what you learned from this experience and from this post event reflection. How, now with the benefit of more knowledge (theory) and experience you may or may not act in the same way if faced with the same experience again. What would you do differently, how do you now feel about this situation and how can you support yourself and others better as a consequence of thinking about this event, what should be your next action?
5. Recommendations – This final section now requires you to extrapolate this experience and reflection to the wider workplace. What can/should be done in the workplace to help with this issue in the future (be specific), what theory have you read in this semester that could assist here is suggestions and recommendations?