Learners are often asked to write a great deal during a course of professional education. They may be asked to write to demonstrate knowledge, to express an opinion, or to evaluate a theory. For many learners expressing themselves in the written word is a challenge, and for some it can provoke intense anxiety. Learners also have to learn that different styles of writing are appropriate in different contexts. The highly structured format required within an agency report, is different from the scholarly writing of an academic assignment.
Reflective writing is different from formal academic writing, or structured agency report writing — although it underpins both. Reflective writing is a form of writing that can be beneficial to learners throughout their professional career. Developing this style of writing can add depth to the process of reflection and enhance the effectiveness of professional practice and the service offered to clients.
A common tool used to develop skills in reflective writing is the use of a reflective journal. A reflective journal can help learners process their thoughts, feelings and actions. By committing reflections to paper the learner can stand back from them and create another opportunity to reconstruct knowledge, awareness and practice.
Writing reflectively is a skill developed over time and so needs practice and perseverance. For many learners using a struture or framework to guide their reflective wrting can be of considerable assistance. Jenny Moon (1999) has suggested that using a structure can enable learners to "…reflect on the appropriate issues and help them 'move on' in their thinking".