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Reflection Assessment Writing Guidelines
Writing reflectively
The reflective writing assessment encourages you to think about your engineering degree and to reflect on how you have developed competencies. Reflect on events where your professional thinking or practices have transformed and describe this in terms of what you did, what you learned and how this learning will affect your future behaviour.
Writing structure
Reflections are personal so your writing should be relaxed and conversational as opposed to the more formal style of academic writing. Give examples or evidence to show on which basis you believe your statements to be true. Reflection is an exploration and an explanation of events – not just a description of them. Reflective writing often involves ‘revealing’ anxieties, errors and weaknesses, as well as strengths and successes. This is fine as long as you show some understanding of possible causes, and explain how you plan to improve. It is necessary to select just the most significant parts of the event or idea on which you are reflecting. It is often useful to ‘reflect forward’ to the future as well as ‘reflecting back’ on the past.
It is mandatory that you use the SEAL framework, outlined below, to ensure that you demonstrate development of each competency.
Situation: What was the new experience or challenge you faced and what happened to you? In this paragraph, state the activity you are referring.
Effect: What impact did it have on you and what were the consequences of this impact?
Action: What action did you take to deal with the new situation and any challenges, and why did you do this?
Learning: What did you learn from the experience and how will you apply this in the future?
Reflections examples (SEAL format)
Situation: The most significant learning experience from my work placement at Rio Tinto as an Undergraduate Mechanical Engineer was a presentation I had to give towards the end of the placement. I had to talk about the project that I was working on at a staff meeting. I had thought that I was quite confident, as I had spent quite a bit of time preparing it in the way that I have seen others make similar presentations. I was still quite nervous as the student in the team rather than the professional. When it came to the presentation, I wanted to do well.
Effect: My efforts to be calm failed and my voice went wobbly. I persevered despite being nervous and unhappy with my performance. Afterwards, I talked things over with my supervisor and we identified where I could improve. I was a little bit embarrassed about having to talk to my supervisor but I felt it was the best way to learn and improve. Presentations in a professional environment are much harder than at university.
Action: The debrief with my supervisor was really helpful and I realise that I need to structure my presentations better to help me present in a more logical way and I need to get a handle on my nerves by taking a deep breath before I start speaking and practising beforehand. From this experience, I learned that it is important to ask for help when you need it and even though criticism can be hard to take sometimes if you can use it to improve then it is well worth it.
Learning: In the future, I will seek help before I get to the point of near disaster and will take on board feedback. Overall, the experience has made me more confident about presenting in a professional situation. My communication skills have improved and I feel like facing a challenging situation has made me more resilient and able to bounce back after something has not gone the way I liked.
Reference:
Text extracted from The University of Queensland, “Engineering Professional Practice Reflection Assessment Writing Guidelines”

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