Critical Reflection Essay

Critical reflection essays are a key requirement for learners in different fields and disciplines.

Whether it is a reflective essay for nursing or social work, you are required to employ a particular language and writing style that aligns to your study area.

It is important to note that reflective writing should be linked to theories in your field.

This should ensure that the work adopts a formal tone.

As illustrated in all critical reflection essay templates, tones adopted could vary from one field to another.

Above said, it is imperative to clearly understand what a critical reflection essay entails before you embark on the writing process.

What is a Critical Reflection?

The first step on how to write a reflective essay is to understand what critical reflection is.

In simple terms, critical reflection can be defined as:

“The process that requires you to identify, question, and assess your deeply-held assumptions about our beliefs, knowledge, how we perceive issues and events, feelings, and actions”.

Accordingly, critical reflection requires you to use course materials such as readings, lectures, and discussions to search for triggers and causes, examine individual biases, compare current actions with theories, and identify actual problems.

As illustrated in critical reflection essay examples in nursing or social work, the main objective entails changing your thinking about specific issues and therefore changing your behavior.

Critical reflection as such should not be confused with an activity’s summary, a reading assignment, or an emotional outlet.

Aims of Critical Reflection

As illustrated by critical reflection essay examples, critical reflective writing seeks to serve numerous aims.

These aims are as highlighted below:

For the lecturer:

1. Appraise your growth as a writer by examining how you wrote a text and what guides your technical and artistic decisions.

2. Understand the origin of your work, intended aims, and how the work fits into the course.

3. Evaluate your ability to engage with issues on writing, techniques and themes acquired throughout the course.

For you:

1. Learn that writing is motivated by different issues or factors.

2. Learn that good writing develops from different decisions, failures, experiments, shift in ideas, and terminating preconceived notions.

3. Acquire skills in the use of correct critical and technical vocabulary necessary in the analysis of critical work.

4. Grow as a writer by learning from experiments, failures, and successes.

5. Identify strengths and weaknesses in individuals writing style and how to improve.

6. Place your writing style within the wider literary, theoretical, historical, social, cultural, and political context.

Reflective Questions to Ask

There are several reflective questions you could as to help critical reflective writing.

As demonstrated in critical reflection essay examples, these questions come in handy in critical reflection writing.

They include:

Questions to contextualize your writing

1. In what ways do your writing fit into the wider theoretical, literary, social, cultural, or political context (s)?

2. What form does your of writing assume? Script, short story, poem, creative non-fiction, etc.

3. In what genre does you work fit into? For example, nonfiction writing may include: memoirs, biographies, scientific writing, argumentative essays, expository writing, and historical work.

4. Which writers (authors, poets, or playwrights) write in similar way like you?

5. What was your influence when writing and redrafting. Note what things molded your writing by mind-mapping to help identify the currents and streams that shaped your work.

6. Is there a particular poem, novel, film, memoir, art or photography, piece of journalism or music, documentary, radio program, play, or TV show that influence your writing? How?

7. Were there any books, seminar discussions, or writing exercises on writing styles and approaches that inspired or guided you?

8. Did you conduct any research? Whether interviews, fieldwork, or visits to museums or galleries.

9. What other elements influenced your writing? For example, travel, childhood memories, family stories, overheard conversations, or lectures in other courses.

Questions to ask when analyzing a specific piece of writing

1. How was the work written? Meticulously sentence by sentence or one swift outpouring? Was revision and editing done along the way or at the end?

2. What was the initial spark for the idea covered in the work?

3. What were the original vision and goals for the work and to what extent were they achieved?

4. How did the work evolve during the writing process?

5. What technical decisions were made and why? Consider what a certain point of view, structure, voice, form, imagery, lines, layout, punctuation, or metaphor was adopted. For instance, whether you adopted a ghost’s point of view to illustrate what was familiar from an unlikely angle.

6. How were your feelings about the final work?

7. Are there areas that you feel require improvement even after redrafting?

8. What are the problems that you faced when writing and how did you address them?

9. What was the feedback from your peers or/ and instructor? Was the feedback incorporated or rejected, why?

10. How would you write the work in the future?

Questions to ask on the writing process and evolution as a writer

1. What writing aspects and styles work for you?

2. What did you discover about your writing process during this course?

3. What writing elements are you drawn to?

4. What elements of writing are the most challenging to you?

5. What areas could you improve your writing around?

6. What writing experiments did you test? What worked and didn’t? What were the lessons?

7. What were the key insights into the writing craft whether poetry, fiction, scripts, or creative nonfiction did you have?

8. What can you do differently in the future?

9. What presented as the greatest learning moments during the course? What were your breakthrough moments?

10. What do you wish to write next?

Critical Reflection Writing

As demonstrated in critical reflection essay examples, critical reflective writing occurs in two main phases.

1. Analysis

This phase requires you to analyze the issue at hand as well as your role by asking the respective critical questions.

The phase is characterized by three questions that help conduct the analysis:

i. What?

ii. So what?

iii. Now what?

i. What?

This stage is where you should describe the issue being analyzed, including your observations, role, and reactions.

The stage should help observe what you think and feel about an issue.

Course readings and notes may not be really relevant at this stage.

You can use the below questions to navigate through this stage:

1. What happened?

2. What did you do?

3. What did you expect?

4. What was different?

5. What was your reaction?

6. What did you learn?

ii. So what?

As illustrated in critical reflection essay examples, this as the second stage requires you to in in-depth understand the reason why the issue under analysis is relevant or significant.

To do this, you should incorporate information from the first stage, previous knowledge and experience, and course materials to help view the issue from different angles.

Probable angles include:

a. Academic angle: This perspective reviews how the experience enhanced your understanding of a skill, theory, or concept.

You should examine whether the experience confirmed or challenged your understanding, or the identifiable gaps or strengths in your knowledge.

 b. Systems angle: The perspective should examine the sources of power, the beneficiaries and those harmed.

You should review the changes you view necessary, and how the experience helped understand the system or organization.

c. Personal angle: This perspective should look at why the experience matter, arising consequences, previous expectations or assumptions that were refuted or confirmed, and what was a surprise and why.

iii. Now what?

This is the third stage and seeks to explore how the experience shapes your future behavior and thinking.

Questions to ask include:

a. What should I do based on the resulting experiences?

b. What should I do differently?

c. How would I apply the learned lessons?

2. Articulation

As the second phase, articulation entails organizing notes developed in the analysis phase in one coherent story.

It is the phase where you develop an organized and clear argument on lessons learned and change in perspective.

The phase can be divided into 4 stages, including;

i. Developing a thesis statement

ii. Creating an outline

iii. Writing

iv. Revising

i. Developing a thesis statement

The stage entails coming up with a clear argument to build the story around.

Such an argument should factor in the different themes that form the main idea.

ii. Creating an outline

Creating an outline is a very important step.

The outline should be as illustrated below:



-Thesis statement


Paragraph 1

-Introduction of theme A

-Your previous position

-Learning moment

-Your new position

Paragraph 2

-Introduction of theme B

-Your previous position

-Learning moment

-New position

Paragraph 3

-Introduction of theme C

-Your previous position

-Learning moment

-New position


-Summary of the lesson/s

-Significance of the lesson/s to you and others

-Future behavior

iii. Writing

This stage entails building a coherent story.

You should ensure that the writing is formal.

iv. Revising

The stage entails going through the written story to ensure that it is devoid of grammatical and syntax mistakes.

Critical Reflection Essay Examples


Berkowitz (2016) observes that although patient experience is commonly associated with patient satisfaction, it is a remarkably complex concept. This complexity has led to the development of priority areas such as safer care, effective communication and care coordination, preventive care, affordability of care, and patient and families engagement in care delivery, that have all been closely linked to quality patient experience. Accordingly, among these priority areas, patient and families engagement is one of the key spheres where nurses are vastly involved. Such patient engagement is usually defined by the amounts of information flowing between patient and care provider (s), degrees of patient’s active role in care decisions, and levels of patient involvement in decision and policy making (Kristin et al., 2013).

Thesis statement

The above noted, in this essay, I seek to explore the assessment of patient and family engagement in care provision. This exploration encompasses reflections on the experiences acquired during care provision to a 50 year old patient. In view of that, I will share some ideas and questions these reflections provoke about assessment of patient and family engagement in care provision.

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