Writing the self and others: reflection as a learning tool

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Reflection through writing is an established praxis in higher education and a useful tool to enable students to go beyond superficial engagement with the subject matter of their courses to achieve deep learning. This paper analyses the results of reflections incorporated into formal assessment in a 'life writing' unit offered at Macquarie University, Sydney, in which students were learning profile and memoir writing. It also draws impressionistic conclusions from reflections by students who were not part of the study but were studying the unit. The author proposes that the reflective responses demonstrated: a) the students generally absorbed the lessons of the unit and were at least aware of the craft skills they were being taught, even if some were yet to be proficient in executing them; b) some students achieved wider learning experiences beyond the acquisition of craft skills - involving shifts in perspective - most likely attributable to the personal nature of the assignments within a context of critical reflection; and, c) there was a strong impression of an overall improvement in the standard of student work. The paper recommends incorporation into journalism curricula - particularly courses in literary journalism and creative non-fiction - of formal reflective assessment of students' learning experiences concurrently with their assignments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journalism Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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